Norma McCorvey, who was 22, unwed, mired in addiction and poverty, and desperate for a way out of an unwanted pregnancy when she became Jane Roe, the pseudonymous plaintiff of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that established a constitutional right to an abortion, died Feb. 18 at an assisted-living facility in Katy, Tex. She was 69.
Her death was confirmed by Joshua Prager, a journalist currently at work on a book about Roe v. Wade. The cause was a heart ailment.
Ms. McCorvey was a complicated protagonist in a legal case that became a touchstone in the culture wars, celebrated by champions as an affirmation of women’s freedom and denounced by opponents as the legalization of murder of the unborn.
She had a troubled, difficult life, but eventually renounced her pro-abortion views and converted to Catholicism, as she wrote a few years ago:
My Mom was a Roman Catholic, and she would often take me to Catholic Churches and leave me at Mass alone. There aren’t many good memories from my childhood, but this is one of them. I liked it so much and was often moved to tears. I felt the presence of God. There was something very moving about the Catholic ritual and symbolism — the procession with the priest and altar boys, the incense, cross, and candles, the statues and the music. I knew God was everywhere, but in Catholic Churches I always felt especially close to Him. When I asked my Mom why she would take me there, she said, “Remember, the Catholic Church was the first Church.” I knew I couldn’t take communion, but I was content.
The thing that I found out about church is that no one bothers you — you’re just praying and being with God, His Son, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. There’s nothing else on your mind. I find peace in that. Mass is a time for cleansing your soul. You’re in His house and everything is quiet except for the priest saying the Mass. It’s a time to spend only with God.
The practice of going to Mass occasionally continued into my adult life. After my baptism, my friend Connie Gonzales and I would worship regularly at Hillcrest Bible Church on three Sundays out of the month. There was one Sunday each month, though, that we called “God’s Sunday,” on which we would go to Catholic Mass.
So the Catholic Church, and the idea of formally joining it, was never that far from my mind. Several events and the answers to a few key questions brought me to the definite decision to do so.
After I was baptized by Rev. Flip Benham, his friend Fr. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, visited me to bring me the best wishes of the Catholic Community. Fr. Frank, who is based in New York, comes to Dallas regularly as part of his nationwide travels, and on one of those visits I told him I was interested in joining the Catholic Church. He invited me to attend one of the Masses he offered at a Dallas parish, and answered some of the many questions I had about the Mass.
I then told Fr. Frank I would like to have my house blessed, and he readily agreed. “Do you happen to have any holy water?” he asked me. “No, how do we get some?” I responded. He asked me to fill a large container with water, and he blessed it. Then, after he sprinkled it around the house, he told me that I could use the large quantity of water to bless myself each day. This was wonderful, I thought. About a month later, I was on the phone with Fr. Frank and he asked me how my supply of holy water was holding up. “I need more,” I told him, “but don’t laugh at the reason why. My friend and I forgot it was holy water, and we drank it!” We’ve both laughed about that for years.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her…
Photo: Virtue Media.
UPDATE: Check out the video Norma McCorvey made several years back, and hear her explain her defense of life in her own words:
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