Norma McCorvey’s death highlights Jane Roe’s conversion to life

She founded ‘Roe No More’ two decades ago to expose abortion lies.

Just last month, two major marches in Washington DC drew hundreds of thousands of Americans to public demonstrations on both sides of the four decade long battle over the ‘right to abortion’ on demand legalized by the infamous Supreme Court Roe decision. It’s probably safe to say that the vast majority of activists on both sides don’t know who or what Roe was.

Norma McCorvey was the woman named Jane Roe in a 1969 Texas court case challenging that state’s abortion law, a case that went to the Supreme Court as the vehicle to overturn all US state laws in 1973 and ensconce abortion as a right. But McCorvey wasn’t all that involved in the case as even this New York Times article admits.

McCorvey, five months pregnant with her third child, signed an affidavit she claimed she did not read. She just wanted a quick abortion and had no inkling that the case would become a cause célèbre.

Four months later, she gave birth to a daughter and surrendered her for adoption. (Her second child had also been given up for adoption, and her first was being raised by her mother.) She had little contact with her lawyers, never went to court or was asked to testify, and was uninvolved in proceedings that took three years to reach the Supreme Court.

Something most people who even know who she was probably don’t know is that Norma McCorvey never had an abortion. This Times article reports that her mother raised her first child, Norma ‘gave her second child up’ for adoption, and “surrendered” her third child for adoption while her court case was still being heard. But she gave them life. As tough as her life circumstances had been, she gave life to three children and families have grown as a result. She admitted to a local radio station “I think I have always been pro-life. I just didn’t know it.”

Another point coming out of accounts of Norma McCorvey’s life and death is that her conversion from abortion backer to pro-life advocate, from seeker to Christian to baptized Catholic, came as a result of the friendship first encountered with minister Flip Benham, whose “humility disarmed her”, according to this Washington Post piece. She worked in an abortion clinic, he worked next door in a pro-life office.

As McCorvey stood outside smoking…Benham sat down beside her. He apologized for calling her names: “I saw my words drop into your heart, and I know they hurt you deeply.”

McCorvey was taken aback. She excused herself, went inside and cried, she wrote (in her book Won By Love)…

“The war in front of our clinic became a war of love and hatred,” McCorvey wrote in her book.

Love won. Her longtime friends at Priests for Life know her fuller story personally, from working with her in the pro-life movement for over two decades, and receiving her into the Catholic Church. Here’s an account by Fr. Frank Pavone, who knew her best.

She was used for a time as an icon by those in the “pro-choice” movement, but they were plagued by her straightforwardness. On one occasion, when she was being shown a new abortion device, she shocked the clinic administrator by bluntly asking, “Is that what you guys use to suck the children out of their mothers’ wombs?”

Then she began flirting with the truth, a little here and a little there. As St. Peter was brought to repentance at the moment he heard the cock crow, Norma heard several cocks crow. In many instances. it was a normal human event that became a deep interior summons to life. Rev. Flip Benham, the founder of Operation Rescue, apologized to her one day for some unpleasant things he had said on a previous occasion. His admission to her that he, too, was a sinner, opened her eyes to the fact that pro-lifers were not self-righteous.

On another occasion, she was moved by the hug of Emily, the little girl whose invitations to Norma to come to Church finally prevailed upon her. This is significant. Many in the abortion industry fail to recognize the value of the unborn child’s life because they fail to recognize the value of their own lives. The hug and invitations of this little girl gave Norma a message that many others in her life had denied: You are lovable; you are good: your life is valuable.

Conversion is not an easy road. Norma began realizing many things she didn’t like, such as how cold and callous the abortion industry really is, being more concerned for itself than the good of the woman. She even began persuading women not to have the abortions for which they were calling to make an appointment. Little by little, truth drew her in and proved itself more attractive than the abortion industry. Her rediscovery of the value of her own life helped her rediscover the value of the unborn.

That is what the pro-life movement has been about, since Roe v. Wade, it will continue to be the mission of the pro-life movement to be a whole life message of love and care for mothers and their children, and Norma McCorvey dedicated the last decades of her life to ending what Roe wrought, and spreading what she knew from firsthand experience. Which wasn’t abortion.

Pro-life movement spreads its message

The mission is to protect all vulnerable human lives.

So the old, unworkable claim that being “anti-abortion” (speaking of old terminology) is ‘single-issue’ activism about just saving babies is as incoherent as the claim that being “pro-choice” is wide-reaching activism about comprehensive care for women in need and their families. You can’t stand for the right to healthcare, free or low-cost contraceptive drugs, the personal right to ‘consult your doctor or minister’ (all of which is so often claimed) or the right to anything else if you can’t or won’t guarantee the right to live in the first place.

That is self-evident. But too may people have deluded themselves in the abortion movement, along with willing and compliant facilitators in media, politics, academia and other opinion shaping positions, it’s now a rescue mission for them as well as babies, mothers, their families and society.

This has gone on for too long to comprehend. The anniversary of Roe v. Wade just passed the 43rd year mark, and the toll is beyond breathtaking. When I see a television special, or coverage of the Washington DC March for Life, and the screen has a ticker in the corner upping the number of babies aborted since the start of that program alone, I panic and want someone to do something to stop this madness that’s so rapidly spiraling out of control. But the only difference between that moment and every other over these decades is that the ticker is right there, on the screen, in full sight, digitally ticking up the numbers to tally the latest toll as fast as abortions are happening.

Here’s a screen full of numbers. Look at any box, especially the one tallying the number of abortions since you loaded the page. From the time I opened it to link it here, to mere minutes later, it showed nearly 700 new abortions worldwide. Watching it tick up is horrifying. Every number is a human life. When I started these last few sentences, I refreshed that page and that one number went back to zero with the reload. On quick glance, it’s already up to 154 and I don’t want to look again at what it’s up to since this sentence was started. (Okay,  I just did, 207.)

I just closed that page, not to have to look again. But see, that’s exactly the point. Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has always said “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.” Out of sight, out of mind. Multiply that toll exponentially by the countries that have legalized abortion (hence the worldwide counts on that abortion ticker page) and the genocide of unborn boys and girls is horrific. And not so out of sight anymore, since the trial of notorious late term abortionist Kermit Gosnell in 2013, and the series of undercover videos documenting Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby body parts that emerged in 2015.

Just about every sentence here calls for further elaboration, and that will come in the days, weeks and months ahead. This is a prominent issue in the American presidential election this year, one among many but a very important one for many candidates still in the race in the GOP, their supporters, and  citizens who may be holding out on politics at the moment, but holding stronger views on protecting innocent, vulnerable human life. Democrats have no candidate running for the presidency who holds pro-life views, and Democrats for Life have to hold their own in the party that has forced their numbers to dwindle.

Amazing, the irony of noting the analogy to The Emperor’s Clothes and calling it obvious.

The 2015 March for Life in DC chose the theme ‘Pro-Life and Pro-Woman Go Hand In Hand’. Fr. Pavone explains:

The real difference between those in the pro-life movement and those in the “abortion rights” movement is not that we love the baby and they love the mother.

The real difference is that they say you can separate the two and we say you can’t.

We love them both. And we are convinced that you cannot serve the mother while destroying her child, and that you cannot save the child without helping the mother.

Much more to come on that.

The new ‘Freedom Rides’

What a good time to recall the hard won victory of human dignity over degradation that the civil rights movement struggled for in the South and ultimately, nationwide, in the ’60’s.

And what a noble way for the new civil rights movement to show the coherence of the cause.

As the civil-rights movement was simmering in the early 1960s, black men and women, often accompanied by white sympathizers, boarded buses in the American South and sat wherever they wanted. These “freedom riders” challenged local and state laws and customs that kept the races separate on public transportation as well as in waiting rooms and restrooms.

This Friday, a new kind of freedom rider will take to the road…

‘Freedom Rides for the Unborn’. Led by Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, and Dr. Alveda King, director of PFL’s African-American Outreach, this undertaking is more than symbolic.

Linking the Freedom Rides for the Unborn to the concept and method of the 1961 Freedom Rides for civil rights was the result of a conversation Father Pavone and King had while attending a March for Life.

“This is the civil-rights movement” of this century, King concluded.

“I always see the pro-life effort and my own involvement as a striving for freedom,” said Father Pavone. “We’re talking about real people who are really enslaved, oppressed. And the whole ministry of the Gospel and priesthood is what Jesus said about his ministry: ‘I come to proclaim liberty to captives.’”

Ride on

Tax day in America

Lots to talk about. I’ll be guest-hosting the Drew Mariani Show on Relevant Radio Thursday, and hope you can join in as much of it as you can, whether on dial or online, because we’ve got some great guests lined up!

Looking forward to talking with the founder of the Tea Party movement; Ambassador Alan Keyes; Heritage Foundation’s healthcare policy expert Dr. Robert Moffit; Acton Institute’s Fr. Robert Sirico’ Liturgical Institute’s Dr. Denis McNamara; and Fr. Frank Pavone, the legendary warrior behind Priests for Life.

Time flies, always. It’s going to be a particularly fast three hours. Take time to join the conversation. Open forum!