Norma McCorvey--the “Jane Roe” in Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision that legalized abortion--recently announced that she has become a born-again Christian and is opposed to abortion.
Operation Rescue and other anti-abortion groups tout this as a devastating blow to those who support reproductive freedom. Their political posturing about McCorvey’s decision is a clear indication that they have never truly understood the meaning of the pro choice movement.
McCorvey’s decision to personally oppose abortion is a validation, not a condemnation, of the pro-choice movement.
We respect the right of every woman to make an individual choice about abortion based on her religious, moral and ethical beliefs. The decision whether to terminate a pregnancy or to carry a pregnancy to term is a private one that should be left to the woman in consultation with her family and her doctor, without government intrusion.
In 1973, McCorvey made her decision to terminate a pregnancy based on her personal situation. The government of Texas said that she had no right under state law to make that decision. Thus, Roe vs. Wade began.
But Roe vs. Wade isn’t about any single person. It is about the freedom of all women to make reproductive decisions. Roe empowered women and enabled them to make family planning decisions that had not been available at that time. During these past 22 years, women have had access to accurate family planning information and quality reproductive health care. This could not have happened without Roe, and Roe could not have happened without McCorvey.
Anyone in the pro-choice movement must respect McCorvey’s courage during a difficult time in her life that paved the way for American women. But people’s political and religious views change. So we must also respect her right to change her position 22 years later. Many women who have been anti-abortion have changed their views when they or a loved one has faced a crisis pregnancy.
Under Roe vs. Wade, McCorvey has the right to support or oppose abortion, just as all women have. Her view on abortion today is a personal one. That is the true meaning of the pro-choice movement.
With so many men heading anti-choice organizations, Operation Rescue and others have been searching for a woman to display. In McCorvey, they may have found someone to exploit for political gain.
I hope that in her new belief, McCorvey will respect the emotional plight of other women who face crisis pregnancies and choose to exercise their rights to have an abortion. I hope that she will remember that 22 years ago, a government refused to understand her plight and took control of her body out of her hands. I hope that she does not become a pawn in the radical right’s attempts to erode women’s reproductive freedom.