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Ministry News Pro-Life

Norma McCorvey Documentary Arouses Pro-Life Ministries

The FX network will air a documentary on Norma McCorvey on Friday night that pro-life activists say misrepresents her life, her beliefs, and her work.

Norma McCorvey was the anonymous “Jane Roe” in the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.  She later converted to Christianity.  A famous video shows her being baptized in a swimming pool by evangelist and pro-life activist Flip Benham.  She became a pro-life activist and her spiritual journey ultimately led her to the Roman Catholic Church.  She died of heart failure in 2017 at age 69.

The FX program says she made a “deathbed confession” that she was not pro-life and that pro-life organizations paid her nearly $500-thousand during the decades she spoke out for the pro-life cause.  However, the document doesn’t make it clear that many of these payments were fees for speaking engagements, as well as travel and lodging reimbursements.  These payments were spread out over more than 20 years.

Fr. Frank Pavone, the leader of Priests for Life, said he “received her” into the Catholic Church and ministered to her as she neared death.  He said in a series of Tweets:

The mainstream media has been running a smear campaign against pro-lifers, peddling the false idea that McCorvey never really became pro-life and in fact, was always pro-choice. The campaign took off after trailers for the new FX documentary, ‘AKA Jane Roe’ included McCorvey seeming to say she was paid to be pro-life. In fact, that’s not the most reasonable interpretation of what she said.

Media outlets ran with headlines blaring that McCorvey was ‘paid to be pro-life.’ But that’s not what she said.  The most reasonable interpretation is that she became a pro-life Christian and was being helped by pro-life groups to tell her story. She may have had trouble formulating her thoughts and emotions and so pro-life groups helped her figure out the best way to tell her story. And if she worked for a pro-life group or spoke to pro-life groups, being compensated for her time isn’t incredibly novel; the media knows that organizations pay speakers, right?

Pavone also wrote:

So #abortion supporters are claiming Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe of Roe v Wade, wasn’t sincere in her conversion. She was I was her spiritual guide for 22 years, received her into the #Catholic Church, kept regular contact, spoke w her the day she died, & conducted her funeral.”

So #abortion supporters are claiming Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe of Roe v Wade, wasn’t sincere in her conversion.

She was.

Pavone and others who knew her admit that she was a complicated and conflicted person.  Pavone said, “You don’t fake the kind of pain she went through.  She was constantly striving for peace.”

Kristan Hawkins leads Students for Life America, knew McCorvey, and worked with her often.  She said, “Norma McCorvey felt responsibility for abortion, for the 60 million babies aborted.  It was a terrible burden.”

Hawkins tweeted: “Jane Roe (Norma McCorvey) always spoke w/ passion about her pro-life convictions, which represented a huge & public shift from how she had been seen for so long.  The woman that I personally knew lived a painful & complicated life, but spoke directly about how she felt about it.”

The Catholic News Agency has reported, Norma McCorvey made a long and difficult journey but ended her life as a pro-life Catholic.

“In 1998, McCorvey was confirmed and entered the Catholic Church.  McCorvey continued to practice Catholicism throughout her life, and received the anointing of the sick before her death.  After her baptism, McCorvey was an outspoken opponent of abortion. She also spoke about struggles with substance abuse and mental health issues.”

Gregory Cox of Liberty Counsel said, “In observing the many years of Norma McCorvey’s interactions with the pro-life community, three things were obvious: Her struggles with her inner challenges in her desire to follow Jesus, her anger toward the pro-abortion machine who used her to advance their agenda and abandoned her when she was no longer useful, and the authenticity of her commitment to the sanctity of human life. Regardless of any “deathbed” confessions, Norma’s pro-life activities were driven more by conviction than compensation. If individuals within the pro-life community used Norma to advance their own personal agenda, that’s a matter between them and their conscience.”

Mark Harrington, president of Harrington noted as well, “Soon after her conversion to Christ and the pro-life view, Miss Norma stayed at our home and we conducted outreach efforts together with Operation Rescue and Flip Benham. Norma was won by love to Jesus and spent the remainder of her life attempting to reverse the very Supreme Court decision that bears her name – Jane Roe.”

Joe Scheidler is a long-time pro-life activists.  In a statement, he said, “I met Norma McCorvey when she was still promoting abortion,” at a 1989 meeting of abortion advocates he attended. “And I met her again shortly after her conversion. She testified at our fifth ‘Meet the Abortion Providers’ conference in 1996 and was a witness on my behalf in the NOW v. Scheidler trial in 1998. We had many conversations over the years and I am convinced that her conversion and pro-life commitment was one hundred percent genuine.”

“I got to know Miss Norma, as she liked to be called, after she became a Catholic,” said Ann Scheidler. “She was proud to call herself Catholic and worked so hard to get Roe v. Wade overturned. She wanted to undo the damage done by the Supreme Court decision that bore her pseudonym.”

Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine, and Vice President of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 25 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.