Norma McCorvey

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Norma Leah McCorvey (née Nelson; September 22, 1947), better known by the legal pseudonym "Jane Roe", was the plaintiff in the landmark American lawsuit Roe v. Wade in 1973.[1] The U.S. Supreme Court overturned individual states' laws against abortion by ruling them unconstitutional. Later, McCorvey's opinions on abortion changed, and she is now active in pro-life causes.[2]


Personal life

McCorvey was born in Simmesport, Louisiana, and raised in Houston, Texas as a Jehovah's Witness. McCorvey's father left the family before she was old enough to remember;[3] her parents subsequently divorced and she was raised by her mother Mildred, a violent alcoholic. McCorvey's father died on September 27, 1995. She is of partial Cajun and Cherokee ancestry.[1] She dropped out of high school at the age of 14.[4] Two years later, she married Woody McCorvey, but claimed he was abusive towards her. Subsequently, McCorvey left him during the pregnancy with her first child, Melissa (born 1965). The following year, McCorvey again became pregnant, eventually giving birth to a baby that was placed for adoption. She then returned to live with her mother, who disowned her after her daughter confided that she was sexually attracted to women, and took custody of Melissa.[1]

Roe v. Wade

In 1969, at the age of 21, while working low-paying jobs and living with her father, McCorvey became pregnant a third time. She returned to Dallas, where friends advised her to assert falsely that she had been raped, as she would then be eligible to obtain a legal abortion (with the understanding that Texas's anti-abortion laws allowed abortion in the cases of rape and incest). Due to lack of police evidence or documentation, the scheme was not successful and McCorvey would later admit the situation was a fabrication.[5][6] She attempted to obtain an illegal abortion, but the respective clinics had been closed down by authorities. Eventually, McCorvey was referred to attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington.[7] The case took three years of trials to reach the United States Supreme Court. In the meantime, McCorvey had given birth to the baby in question, who was eventually adopted.[1]

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