In 1995, Norma McCorvey became the face of anti-abortion when she spoke out against abortions, amid the Roe vs. Wade case. She was presented as the anonymous plaintiff in the historical case, which ruled that the “Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.”
McCovey became involved with anti-abortion after she became friends with Flip Benham, who was the leader of the pro-life group, Operation Rescue. After being baptized in a pool backyard, McCovey spent the next 20 years of her life protesting for anti-abortion.
Now, in a documentary that was filmed in the months prior to McCorvey’s death in 2017, she revealed that she was paid to advocate for pro-life.
“I was the big fish. I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money, and they’d put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. That’s what I’d say,” she said in AKA Jane Roe.” It was all an act. I did it well too. I am a good actress.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, McCorvey never had an abortion in her life, although she assisted in making them legal. She had given birth to three children, two of which she gave up for adoption and one that was raised by her mother. The same year that McCovey was pregnant with her third child, she had signed a proclamation to challenge the laws in Texas that did not allow a woman to have an abortion unless to save the mother’s life.
“I know how I felt when I found out that I was pregnant and I wasn’t going to let another woman feel that way… cheap, dirty, and no good,” McCorvey stated in the documentary. “Women make mistakes, and they make mistakes with men, and things happen.”
“It’s just Mother Nature at work. You can’t stop it. You can’t explain it. It’s just something that happens […] If a young woman wants to have an abortion, that’s no skin off my ass. That’s why they call it choice.”
In the 1980s, after the verdict, McCorvey went public, granting interviews about her story. But almost 15 years later, the woman, once known as Jane Roe, switched sides.
In 1995, when McCorvey was working at a Dallas abortion clinic that was often targeted for demonstrations by Operation Rescue, she met Flip Benham, and the rest was history, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The man behind McCorvey’s documentary is director Nick Sweeney, who describes his objective as wanting to paint the picture of an interesting woman who felt like a puppet for both groups in the case while altering history.
“The focus of the film is Norma,” Sweeney said. “That’s what I really want people to take away from the film […] who is this enigmatic person at the center of this very divisive issue. With an issue like this, there can be a temptation for different players to reduce ‘Jane Roe’ to an emblem or a trophy, and behind that is a real person with a real story. Norma was incredibly complex.”
AKA Jane Roe premieres Friday, May 22, at 9 p.m. on FX.