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The Plaintiff In Roe v. Wade Said She Was Paid To Become An Anti-Choice Activist

Norma McCorvey, who died in 2017, has been a source of intrigue for decades since she became a Christian anti-choice activist in the ‘90s.

Attorney Gloria Allred and Norma McCorvey during Pro Choice Rally, July 4, 1989 in Burbank, California/ Getty Images

Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, said in a forthcoming FX documentary that she was paid by anti-choice groups to publicly oppose abortion rights after the Supreme Court case, the Los Angeles Times reported.

McCorvey, who died in 2017, has been a source of intrigue for decades since she converted to become a Christian anti-choice activist in the ‘90s. She was an impoverished woman experiencing homelessness in Texas during the 1970’s when she became pregnant with her third child and challenged the state’s law that prevented women from having an abortion. She later became known as “Jane Roe” in the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. 

While McCorvey played a titular role in expanding access to abortion, she never herself had the procedure.

The decision in Roe v. Wade has been widely regarded as the historical turning point for women’s right to terminate a pregnancy. The case’s outcome has been especially relevant after last year saw state legislatures pass a wave of anti-abortion laws, and the future of reproductive rights remain in the crosshairs. Anti-choice activists have also long argued without data that people experience negative emotions or regret their decision after having an abortion. 

In the FX documentary film “AKA Jane Roe,” premiering on May 22, McCorvey said it was her “deathbed confession” to admit that her conversion was “all an act,” the LA Times reported. The Daily Beast reported that the documentary cites documents that claim McCorvey was paid at least $456,911 by the anti-choice groups she worked with. Evangelical Rev. Rob Schenck, formerly an anti-abortion activist who worked with McCorvey, said she was paid and coached for her appearances, while another leader Reverend Flip Benham denies the allegation. 

“If a young woman wants to have an abortion—fine,” McCorvey said in the documentary. “That’s no skin off my ass. You know, that’s why they call it ‘choice.’ It’s your choice.”

Karen Blumenthal, author of “Jane Against the World: Roe V. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights,” told NowThis in March that McCorvey’s complicated legacy has shown that “people are messy.”

“[McCorvey] had a history of not telling the truth and making up stories and trying to appeal to people by saying what she thought they wanted to hear. And that was true for all of her life,"  Blumenthal said. “She's a very, very complicated person in that way. Her relationships were all kind of fraught, even her long-term ones.”

States including Ohio, Texas, and Mississippi have attempted to temporarily ban surgical abortions during the coronavirus outbreak, claiming they  are “non-essential” procedures. These latest bans have drawn criticism from doctors and galvanized providers to file lawsuits.

While some Americans might point to recent appointments of conservative justices including Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch as the nail-in-the-coffin for the constitutional right to abortion, anti-abortion advocates have been ramping up their offensive — stacking the courts, door-knocking, focusing on down-ballot candidates and state legislation — since the early ‘90s and during the Reagan administration.

The documentary will also be available on Hulu on May 23.

Here are some reactions to the news on Tuesday of McCorvey’s revelation: