This interview first appeared in the June 2006 issue of Think magazine.
I was pushing her over to recover. She saw the wall phone and she said, “Can you take me to the phone? I need to call my mom.” I said “sure.” I took her there and she called her mother, and she just started weeping. Her weeping turned into wailing. And that turned into something that I’ve never heard before. I mean it came from here [points to lower abdomen], not from her arms or her chest.
And I’ve never felt so sorry for anyone in my whole life as I did for that girl in that moment. When I wheeled her away I kind of felt that I was responsible. And as I was wheeling her away she cried out: “Tell him to stop!” I had stood there in procedure with her, and had held her hand during the whole procedure. And so I looked down at her and said: “Honey, the procedure is over. There is no baby.”
And this monstrous wailing erupted. Once you’ve heard it you’ll never forget it. I advised her about the usual things you tell a woman after you have an abortion procedure, and she just laid there. Very non-responsive; I mean, every now and then I would touch to see if she was O.K., and she would just flinch a little. I probably stayed at the abortion clinic until 2:00 that morning trying to get her to come out. Because you could tell that she was going in. She had so much frustration, so much grief, that it was penetrating her soul. When ‘Helen’ came in she was full of vitality and joy; afterward there was no ‘Helen’ left.
Those were the words of Norma McCorvey—better known as Jane Roe of the infamous Roe v. Wade case. She went on to lament the fact that no one is reporting the psychological damage that is being done to young women who are “choosing” abortion. “Roe” was the anonymous name given to Norma, lead plaintiff in a court case that would forever change her life. “Wade” was Henry Wade, the District Attorney of Dallas County who was fighting to keep abortion illegal in this country.
We recently spent several hours with this remarkable woman who had gone from working in abortion clinics to now protesting outside their doors. Jane Roe is truly “Roe no more.” She is an active defender of life. The truths she shared were raw and mind-shattering. We invite you to learn more about this lady who signed her name on the affidavit, and went down in history as “the woman who made abortion legal.”
Changing the Course of History
FP: How did you get involved initially? Did they contact you or did you seek them out?
NM: I found myself pregnant for the third time, second time out of wedlock. I went to one doctor, and told him I wanted an abortion. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know what it meant, but I wanted one. Kind of like he could just put it in a package and I’d be outta there…. I just knew I didn’t want to have the baby. I took a bunch of drugs. I threw myself down a flight of stairs. I’d thrown myself in front of moving traffic. I mean, I did not want to have this child. I even went to a place they called an illegal abortion clinic. I don’t know if it was an abortion clinic or not, because I didn’t stay around that long.
Realizing that her child was going to be born into this world, she finally talked her physician into giving her the name of an attorney that dealt in adoptive/foster cases. This lawyer listened to Norma and then introduced her to two people who would change her life forever.
NM: To make a long story short, I met with Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, and they—how do I say this, they upset me. They said, “Oh Norma, don’t you realize that women drive cars, Oh Norma don’t you realize that women get to smoke in public. Oh Norma don’t you know that women get to vote.” I finally told them, “Hey look, I just came for the pizza and beer, because I was hungry.” I met with them three or four times. I signed the affidavit that brought Roe. Vs. Wade into being on March 17, 1970, and I found out about Roe. Vs. Wade just like everyone else did. I read it in the newspaper.
FP: Excuse me, are you telling me you were not aware that it was going on—that it had been sent to the Supreme Court?
NM: I was a paint contractor. I worked for HUD properties, so I was busy making a living. I didn’t care about women voting. I didn’t care about them smoking in their cars and driving, or climbing the glass ceiling.
FP: Did you ever attend courtroom sessions?
NM: No. Never.
Many people believe that Jane Roe was a devout feminist—a fighter for women. She is often portrayed as a radical feminist who expanded the borders for women’s rights. The truth was she was simply trying to make a living. She told us: “I was more involved with the Vietnam War efforts than I was equal rights or ERA or anything like that.” Having indulged in the free pizza she signed her name to an affidavit, and forever changed the course of American history.
Life at an Abortion Clinic
Norma conveyed to us that she was a big believer in tough love. She noted: “I used to stand in abortion clinics and run blood tests and pregnancy tests. And I would stand there with the patients to my back and they would tell me why they were having this abortion. And I would just turn around and say: ‘You owe me no excuses. You came here of your own free will.’” But seeing it day-after-day, Norma quickly realized that abortion was not just a medical procedure used during incidents of rape or injury to the mother. It was being used extensively for birth control.
NM: I’ve had women come up to me and thank me for their abortions. I say: “What do you mean? How many abortions have you had?” “Oh seven or eight, who counts?” I had another woman who came into a doctor’s office. She said she had had some sort of test and she found out she was going to have a little girl and she wanted a little boy. So why have a baby at all?
FP: So, because she didn’t get the right gender….
NM: Yeah, that’s gender selection. You know, you hear about these things. You read about these things, but you never think you are going to meet it face-to-face.
FP: What did you see in your experience with women, as far as changes, depression, mental, etc.?
NM: You have to understand that I had them right before their abortion.
FP: So they’re O.K., the world is still rosy.
NM: Some of them are nervous. Some of them are scared. Some of them don’t really care. But mostly what I would see, after they came out of procedure is limp, vegetated human beings, in which the lights are on but nobody’s home.
FP: Norma, would you mind telling us what you saw when you were working? Most people who are going to be reading this have no idea what goes on.
NM: Have you ever just taken a whole fryer chicken and cut it up? And put all the pieces in a bag and place some of those pieces back in the freezer. What’s left on the counter? That’s what an aborted baby looks like. I mean that’s the nicest way I can explain it without getting too graphic.
FP: Did these clinics dispose of the babies in a responsible way?
NM: We had a truck that would come once a week. And they would take arms, and legs, and heads and torsos. Sometimes someone would think that they were doing something really funny and put all the hands together, all the feet together, all the legs together, or all the heads together. This was a very sick guy.
FP: Were these placed in a bag or something?
NM: In jars, or a freezer bag or whatever we had handy. I’ve seen children’s tiny little bodies cut up and sloughed on the floor like cord wood. And the stench was awful.
FP: What impact do you feel like this debate is having in our society today?
NM: No one debates abortion anymore—not that I know of, or the circles that I know.
FP: Do you feel like the pendulum is swinging back?
NM: Yeah, the pendulum is swinging back in our direction. There’s no doubt about that….
FP: Just for the record, and I’m sure you’re asked this all the time, but what is your view on abortion today?
NM: Well, sitting here on May 17th, 2006, I am ultimately pro-life. I don’t believe in abortion.
Those are amazing words given that it was her signature that caused legalized abortion to land on the Supreme Court’s docket.
Making the Change to Pro-Life
Norma’s change to pro-life is primarily attributed to a perseverant seven-year old girl named Emily. At the sound of her name, Norma’s eyes lit up as she began telling us how Emily’s parents worked for a pro-life organization and they moved into the office next to the abortion clinic where she was working. Every single time Emily saw Norma she would invite her to church with them. Norma said that initially she would make excuses— but pretty soon she ran out of excuses, and so she decided to go. Thanks to the repeated invitations of a seven-year old she walked into a church building [and she would add that “thankfully the roof did not cave in!”], and her life has never been the same.
FP: What are the milestones as you see them in your life? Things that as you look back you say: “Yes, that was a turning point.”
NM: There have been so many things that it would be hard to name just one. I do remember having lunch with Rhonda (Emily’s mom)—and Emily and Chelsea were there. And we were going to look for furniture for the CPC (crisis pregnancy center— FP) that Rhonda was running. So we went over to this business place where I used to go get all of my furniture and things. Rhonda had already told me her story of being pregnant out of wedlock, and her parents and her finance’s parents encouraged her to have an abortion. So she made the appointment. When she realized what she was about to do she realized that what she was about to do was the same thing that some of her high school girlfriends had done—and she recalled how different they were …
She canceled her appointment and decided to have Emily. She had Emily six weeks premature. So you have to picture that we were standing in front of this early Orange Crate furniture store. And I went out to the street and was looking at some wingback chairs. They looked pretty original. So, just as I was turning around, Emily was coming around the side of the van like this, and Rhonda had a bumper sticker in the back of the van that said “Abortion stops a beating heart.” And it just blew my mind.
FP: Wow. So you get to see not only her child who was almost aborted, plus a bumper sticker reminding you of life?
NM: I told Emily to come run to Nana real quick. And she never questioned me. She came running. And I just hugged her, and I thought “I never want to let her go.”
A Call to Action
Norma now spends every waking moment trying to “undo” what was done over thirty years ago. She has dedicated her life to trying to stop this holocaust.
FP: What should Christians do? What should we be doing?
NM: Well everyone needs to be active. I think we need to hear it from the pulpit first. We have a lot of preachers out there who still won’t talk about abortion. It’s beginning to have a real effect on their church lives. They go to church and they want to hear about Jesus, and about His miracles. But we have to face reality. There are issues out here like abortion and euthanasia that have to be dealt with.
FP: And to young people or the average Christian sitting in a pew?
NM: Well, they can be responsible for themselves by being respectful to young women. They can volunteer at crisis pregnancy centers. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
FP: Do you think we should be teaching abstinence or offer birth control to young people. Do you feel like ‘schools offering birth control’ is taking us in the wrong direction?
NM: Well, see you’ve got Planned Parenthood—who I call Planned Death, because when you really stop and think about it how many parents have you ever seen that have come out of Planned Parenthood? Ironically, Consumer Reports demonstrated that Planned Parenthood supplies the least effective condoms—the ones with the worst performance.
We have so many incidents in the pro-life movement that have kind of soured people’s minds. Like chaining themselves to clinic doors, blowing them up.
FP: Or shooting people…
NM: A lot of church people don’t want to get involved. I’ve been told if you hadn’t been with Operation Rescue we would have asked you to come speak at our church. I told them “rescue” was my testimony. I’ve been spit at, nearly run over. I’ve been cussed at. I’ve been cussed out in several different languages.
But Norma insists that we need to “get active”—even in the face of persecution. Because lives are at stake. We must ask ourselves (and our neighbors), what is ultimately more important—the idea of “choice” or obeying Jehovah God? If we put “self” and personal wishes over the tenants of God, then we indeed live in a society which has abandoned His instructions on the sanctity of life and no longer deserves His blessings. It’s like David Kupelian wrote in his excellent book on America’s societal ills, The Marketing of Evil:
In America today, the unborn baby is the obvious victim of the abortion holocaust. But there are other victims. Vulnerable young women are deceived by manipulative and unscrupulous “health professionals” into believing their unborn babies are not human, only to find out too late, in the recovery room or shortly thereafter, that they ended the lives of their children. What crueler trick could one play? In truth, millions of people who think of themselves as pro-choice are victims of sophisticated marketing campaigns designed to appeal to their deepest feelings about freedom and equality while simultaneously hooking them through powerful appeals to their selfishness (page 208).
Our time with Norma was a short couple of hours, but her words and the experiences she shared with us will stay with us for a lifetime. However, the efforts she’s making to change hearts and minds will have the limited results that only one person can produce.
It’s time we all get involved. With some 48 million innocent, tiny lives ended with such calloused barbarism in the last 36 years its little wonder we are where we are in today’s society. Forty-eight million children we will never know have been killed and millions of young women have been psychologically wounded – women who made the “choice” to destroy a life with a doctor’s help.
As a nation we will be forever scarred by this “legalized” atrocity. The time is now for us to begin educating the masses on the value and beginning of life. We must break the spell our society finds itself under by speaking up and pointing to the facts. Who will stand in the gap on behalf of children, life, and the women who have themselves suffered as a result of horribly wrong Supreme Court ruling and the fiendishly clever marketing of the sin we call abortion?