Norma McCorvey, the once-anonymous “Jane Roe” in the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case, revealed she only switched sides to oppose abortion rights because she was being paid by anti-abortion groups.
“I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money and they put me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say. That’s what I’d say,” McCorvey, who died in 2017, admitted in FX’s upcoming documentary “AKA Jane Roe.” “I did it well, too. I am a good actress. Of course, I’m not acting now.”
In 1970, McCorvey filed a lawsuit requesting that she have the right to safely and legally end a pregnancy in Texas. The case ultimately made it to the Supreme Court and, in 1973, the court ruled 7-2 that citizens had the constitutional right to an abortion.
Though she was the anonymous “Jane Roe” at the time, McCorvey revealed her identity in the 1980s and shocked abortion-rights activists when she publicly reversed her stance in 1995 and became a vocal anti-abortion proponent. From that point on, she wrote about her conversion as a “born again Christian” in a second memoir, actively worked to overturn Roe v. Wade and participated in demonstrations involving the burning of the Quran and the LGBTQ flag.
But with her “deathbed confession” — as McCorvey put it in the documentary filmed in the last year of her life — the woman behind Jane Roe pulls back the curtain on decades of public discourse surrounding abortion. “If a young woman wants to have an abortion, fine. That’s no skin off my ass,” McCorvey said. “That’s why they call it choice. It’s your choice.”
Her confession is replayed to figures like Gloria Allred, McCorvey’s former attorney; Charlotte Taft, an abortion-rights activist and founder of the Routh Street Women’s Clinic in Dallas; and Rob Schenck, a former leader of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue who admitted that the group paid McCorvey.
For Allred and Schenck, their initial reaction to McCorvey’s confession is contained in one word: “Wow.”
“I had never heard her say anything like this. Never. But I knew what we were doing and there were times I was sure she knew. And I wondered, ‘Is she playing us?'” Schenck, who has since distanced himself from American evangelicalism and the anti-abortion movement, continues. “What I didn’t have the guts to say was, because I know damn well we’re playing her. What we did with Norma was highly unethical. The jig is up.”
But for Taft, the truth behind McCorvey’s betrayal of the abortion-rights movement leaves her gasping. “That really hurts,” Taft said. “It’s big stakes, is all. It’s just really big stakes.”
Watch the trailer for “AKA Jane Roe” below:
“AKA Jane Roe,” directed by Nick Sweeney, is currently available for streaming on Hulu.