Norma McCorvey was just 21 years old when she learned she was pregnant for a third time in 1969. She sought an illegal abortion, and her case made its way to the Supreme Court more than three years later. In the now-infamous case Roe v. Wade, McCorvey used the pseudonym Jane Roe. She never obtained the abortion she sought, and the child was instead adopted. Later in life, she quit her job at the abortion clinic, converted to Roman Catholicism, and became a staunch pro-life advocate. McCorvey died on Feb. 18 at the age of 69.
For all of the horrors that have resulted from legalized abortion nationwide in all stages of pregnancy for any reason, McCorvey’s role in Roe shouldn’t be considered the beginning of the pro-life movement. The principles the movement stands for have been around long before McCorvey’s fated desire, and they will endure far into the future. The story of McCorvey’s conversion is heartening. It is the quintessential meaning of the pro-life movement: that all life has value, regardless of race, gender, age, or ability. Her life was inherently valuable, and she used the better part of it to courageously defend the lives of unborn children. “I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name,” she said in a pro-life advertisement.
In a greater sense, McCorvey was exactly the kind of woman to which the pro-life movement offers hope. By her own admission, she was a confused and misguided young woman dealing with great distress. These are among the women the pro-life community serves. There is always a hand reaching to help a mother in need or a child seemingly unwanted. The pro-life movement knows that no one is perfect. It doesn’t expect anyone to be. Instead, it welcomes with open arms all human beings, irrespective of their past or prospective future.
Norma McCorvey wasn’t at home when she was mired in a lengthy legal battle for an abortion. She was at home in the pro-life movement, where she adopted the timeless truths of human value and dignity. She embodied the pro-life cause by epitomizing the truth that everyone can find a home in the right to life crusade.
Perhaps McCorvey’s most perfect embodiment of being pro-life was the fact that her involvement was the culmination of a life mixed with struggle and dedication. Activists today should look to her as an example of countering hardship with perseverance and as a guide in carrying the pro-life torch into the coming years.
McCorvey’s life wasn’t pretty, easy, or painless. Despite all of the reasons she had to withdraw from the public eye after regretting her involvement in Roe, she not only held a newfound belief, but she acted on it. For her, it wasn’t enough to know that abortion was wrong and that she could find forgiveness. Instead, she committed to doing everything she could to undo the travesty she was involved in creating.
Regardless of our respective pasts, or the pasts of any post-abortive women, we should be brave enough to speak out loud against injustice and defend those who are defenseless. Norma McCorvey, the woman whose pseudonym has ushered in more than four decades of abortion, stood up to make a difference. So can you. It is never too late.
Mr. Grime is a freshman studying the liberal arts.