How Far People will go for Personal Gain: The Story of the Plaintiff Whose Values were Ambushed


Photo Source: J. Scott Applewhite, The Associated Press

Hannah Linehan, Writer

The Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case has been recently brought back into the public eye as the documentary, AKA Jane Roe, has stirred up new details regarding the woman behind the landmark court decision made in 1973. A shocking confession by Norma McCorvey, better known as Jane Roe, has provided insight into the corrupted decision making and politics of the case.

Roe v. Wade is the famous case regarding abortion rights in America. The clash between pro-choice and pro-life groups peaked during the 1970s and citizens fought to create more structured guidelines.

On the pro-choice side stood McCorvey, a woman from Texas, who had been raped and sexually abused, knew she could not care for a child, and wanted an abortion. Texas, and many other states, made it illegal for women to seek abortions, denying women of their reproductive rights. She and a group of female lawyers then took Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas at the time, to court. 

There was a hard fight that ultimately changed the course of American history and granted women the right to choose how to handle their own bodies. After the case came to a close, the battle for abortion rights continued and McCorvey joined pro-choice groups to appear and speak at various events around the country. It made perfect sense that, as the leading face of the pro-choice movement, McCorvey would advocate for these groups. However, there was a sudden switch in her beliefs in 1995.

McCorvey was baptized by the Catholic Church and then joined anti-choice groups, which seemed very uncharacteristic seeing that she had never believed in religion before and had famously fought on the pro-choice side in court. Many people took this as a sign that abortion is wrong and that the pro-life side is superior. However, no explanation was ever offered regarding these events until now. 

McCorvey passed away in 2017, but the “deathbed confession” she made in her final days has changed the way people now view the case and how powerful plaintiffs can be. 

McCorvey finally revealed that her heart was never in this switch, she was actually paid by anti-abortion groups to join their side. She felt trapped and did not know how to deal with the situation she had gotten herself into. McCorvey told The L.A. Times that “I took their money and they’d put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say… It was all an act. I did it well too. I am a good actress.” 

The AKA Jane Roe documentary has noted that roughly $500,000 in cash and gifts from anti-abortion and Christian groups was given to McCorvey. 

According to USA Today, Rob Schneck, the man who dealt with the money in this operation, said that “there was some worry that if Norma wasn’t paid sufficiently, she would go back to the other side.” Seeing that the money was never properly tracked and McCorvey would demand checks at random, totaling hundred to thousands of dollars at a time, Schenck claims no one really knows how much she was paid. Nevertheless, McCorvey was granted a significant amount of money, so much so that her core beliefs and values were corrupted and pushed aside.

This news is incredibly shocking and is now raising questions about the corruptness of government-backed organizations and how twisted the media and politics can be.

Photo Source: Saul Loeb, Associated Press Files/Getty Images

Both sides of the abortion debate feel cheated and lied to, neither knowing whether to rest assured because the truth has been let out or grieve for the struggle that McCorvey went through. It has been made clear that McCorvey’s beliefs were mangled because the aspect of money corrupted her. Now it is up to the people to decide whether to count McCorvey as a criminal for fighting solely for money, or as a hero who got stuck in a scheme she never really wanted to be a part of.

Although pro-lifers and pro-choicers cannot agree on what reproductive rights should be granted to women, they can collectively express that the corruption and mistreatment of McCorvey were unjust and that no plaintiff’s values should ever be corrupted for personal gain.