Norma McCorvey (Norma Leah McCorvey)

Norma McCorvey

Norma McCorvey was born in Simmesport, Louisiana. She was briefly raised at her family’s residence in Lettsworth in Pointe Coupee Parish. Later in her childhood, the family moved to Houston, Texas. McCorvey’s father left the family when she was 13 years old and her parents subsequently divorced. She and her older brother were raised by their mother Mildred, a violent alcoholic. McCorvey’s father died on September 27, 1995. She was of partial Cajun ancestry. McCorvey had entered a Catholic boarding school prior to her minor troubles with law enforcement that started at the age of ten, when she robbed the cash register at a gas station and ran away to Oklahoma City with a friend. They tricked a hotel worker into letting them rent a room, and were there for two days when a maid walked in on her and her female friend kissing. McCorvey was arrested and brought to court, where she was declared a ward of the state and sent to state-run institutions. Later, Norma McCorvey was sent to the State School for Girls in Gainesville, Texas, on and off from ages 11 to 15. She said this was the happiest time of her childhood, and every time she was sent home, would purposely do something bad to be sent back. After being released, McCorvey lived with her mother’s cousin, who allegedly raped her every night for three weeks. When McCorvey’s mother found out, her cousin claimed McCorvey was lying.

While working at a restaurant, Norma met Woody McCorvey (born 1940), and she married him at the age of 16. She later left him after he allegedly assaulted her. She moved in with her mother and gave birth to her first child, Melissa, in 1965. After Melissa’s birth, McCorvey developed a serious drinking problem. Soon after, she came out and began identifying as a lesbian. She went on a weekend trip to visit two friends, and left her baby with her mother. When she returned, her mother replaced Melissa with a baby doll and reported her to the police as having abandoned her baby, and called the police to take her out of the house. She would not tell her where Melissa was for weeks, and finally let her visit her child after three months. She let McCorvey move back in, and one day woke Norma up after a long day of work. She told her to sign insurance papers, and Norma did so without reading. However, she actually signed adoption papers, giving her mother custody of Melissa, and was then kicked out of the house. The following year, McCorvey again became pregnant and gave birth to a baby, who was placed for adoption.

In 1969, at the age of 21, Norma McCorvey became pregnant a third time. She returned to Dallas. According to McCorvey, friends advised her that she should assert falsely that she had been raped and that she could thereby obtain a legal abortion under Texas’s law which prohibited abortion; sources differ over whether the Texas law had such a rape exception. Due to lack of police evidence or documentation, the scheme was not successful and McCorvey would later admit the situation was a fabrication. 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, who were looking for pregnant women who were seeking abortions. The case took three years of trials to reach the Supreme Court of the United States, and Norma never attended a single trial. In the meantime, she had given birth to the baby in question, who was eventually adopted. McCorvey revealed herself to the press as being “Jane Roe” soon after the decision’s issuance and stated that she sought an abortion because she was unemployable and greatly depressed. In the 1980s, McCorvey asserted that she had been the “pawn” of two young and ambitious lawyers (Weddington and Coffee) who were looking for a plaintiff with whom they could challenge the Texas state law prohibiting abortion.

In her first book, the 1994 autobiography, I Am Roe, Norma McCorvey wrote of her sexual orientation. For many years, she had lived quietly in Dallas with her long-time partner, Connie Gonzales. “We’re not like other lesbians, going to bars,” she explained in a New York Times interview. “We’re lesbians together. We’re homers.” That same year, she became a Christian and voiced remorse for her part in the Supreme Court decision. McCorvey worked as part of the pro-life movement, such as Operation Rescue. At a signing of I Am Roe, McCorvey was befriended by evangelical minister and National Director of Operation Rescue Flip Benham and later baptized on August 8, 1995, by Benham, in a Dallas, Texas, backyard swimming pool, an event that was filmed for national television. Two days later she announced that she had quit her job at the abortion clinic she was working at, and had become an advocate of Operation Rescue’s campaign to make abortion illegal. Shortly thereafter, Norma McCorvey released a statement that affirmed her entrance into the Roman Catholic Church, and she was confirmed into the church as a full member. Later in life, McCorvey stated that she was no longer a lesbian. On August 17, 1998, she was received into the Roman Catholic church by Father Frank Pavone, the International Director of Priests for Life and Father Edward Robinson in Dallas. Norma McCorvey died of heart failure in Katy, Texas, on February 18, 2017, at the age of 69.

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Born

  • September, 22, 1947
  • USA
  • Simmesport, Louisiana

Died

  • February, 18, 2017
  • USA
  • Katy, Texas

Cause of Death

  • heart failure

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