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Hillsdale stu­dents at the ‘March for Life’ in Wash­ington, D.C. Josephine von Dohlen | Col­legian

Forty-four years later abortion is still legal, but the woman who helped make it so has died. Norma McCorvey, better known as Roe, died Feb. 18, at the age of 69. Ms. McCorvey is known for the role she played in the landmark case Roe v. Wade, which insti­tuted federal pro­tec­tions for abor­tions across the United States. In con­tem­plating Ms. McCorvey’s life and death, it is hard to say whether she was a hero for the left or the right — or not one at all. This is an important question to con­sider as both pro-choice and pro-life activists grasp for gods and heroes to help them gain victory in a cul­tural war over abortion that is only increasing in intensity since the election of Donald Trump.

Ms. McCorvey was 22 and pregnant for the third time when she sought an abortion in Texas. Unable to get one, she turned to two lawyers, Linda Coffee and Sarah Wed­dington, who were looking for an unhappily pregnant woman to use as a plaintiff in an anti-abortion lawsuit. Though the lawyers won abortion rights for mil­lions of women in America they didn’t win the right for their own client. The case took three years to make it through the court system and thus Ms. McCorvey never got her abortion, a fact she resented. “I don’t require that much in my life,” she claimed in 1994. “I just never had the priv­ilege to go into an abortion clinic, lay down, and have an abortion.”

Roe v. Wade defined McCorvey’s life almost as much as it defined the cul­tural and political land­scape that fol­lowed it. She revealed her real name to the public in the 1980’s and came out as a stark defender of abortion rights. McCorvey spoke at abortion rallies and worked at an abortion clinic. She wrote a memoir in 1994 about her role in Roe v. Wade entitled, I Am Roe.” She was, for a time, the hero of abortion rights advo­cates. Ms. McCorvey never felt like she could live up to their stan­dards, however.

In an astounding about-face, McCorvey became a Christian and joined the pro-life movement. McCorvey’s con­version came about after Flip Benham, the head of a pro-life group named Oper­ation Rescue, opened an office next door to the abortion clinic she was working at. Wearing a shirt that read “100% Pro-life, Without Exception, Without Com­promise, Without Apology,” Ms.  McCorvey would often attend pro-life rallies. In 1997, McCorvey wrote another book, entitled “Won by Love,” in which she described her con­version story. She explained how those in Oper­ation Rescue protested outside her abortion clinic and how she reg­u­larly cursed at them — only to receive affir­ma­tions in return.

“The war that went on in front of our clinic became a war of love and hatred,” she wrote. “They never backed down from calling what I was doing sin, but while they showed a rock-hard oppo­sition to every­thing I stood for, at the same time they dis­played an incredible openness to reach out to me as a person.”

On the 25th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, McCorvey told CNN, “I’m very sad [about the anniversary]. But this year, I’ve got so much to do, I don’t have time to sit down and be sad.” Some regard Ms. McCorvey’s con­version as more of a career move than a change of heart. According to a 2013 Vanity Fair profile, she charged a $1,000 interview fee and took an annual salary of $40,000 from her pro-life non­profit, Roe No More.

The left’s degra­dation of their former hero is under­standable. Ms.  McCorvey does not fit into their fem­inist liberal typology and thus self-interest, they claim — not the truth about the horrors of abortion — must drive her. This is not to say that Ms. McCorvey is a can­didate for sainthood or that the right should hold her up as a trophy. Her role in Roe v. Wade is to be lamented, just as her work to undo some of the harm is to be praised. She was a broken woman who made some hor­rible deci­sions, one of which has dic­tated the battle line between con­ser­v­a­tives and lib­erals for the past 44 years. Her death comes at a time when the sword of par­ti­sanship is drawing ever deeper and ever wider lines.

Just one day after Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the most pro-life vice pres­ident we have ever had, were sworn in, mil­lions of women flooded cities all over the country in an attempt to protect what Ms. McCorvey helped give them — the freedom to extin­guish the life of their unborn children. Just seven days after the inau­gu­ration, mil­lions of people gathered in D.C. to protest this so called freedom — just as McCorvey had done herself for 20 years. In another move, likely to cause ire among liberal activists, Pres­ident Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his pick for Supreme Court Justice. Gorsuch is a pro­ponent of defunding Planned Par­enthood and is  widely expected to follow Justice Scalia’s lead in opposing abortion, While Trump’s election has deflated the progress of abortion activism, it has enlivened the hope of the pro-life movement. In the future, this year might not only be known for the death of Norma McCorvey, but for the death of one she fought so hard against — that of Roe v. Wade.