For more than two decades, one of the most outspoken opponents of abortion rights was Norma McCorvey, a.k.a. the “Roe” in Roe v. Wade. She had been the plaintiff in the lawsuit that legalized abortion throughout the country, but in 1995, she stunningly announced that she was now opposed to those very rights. She went in front of cameras for years and spoke out against abortion. It was an incredible coup for the Christian Right.
But now, in a new documentary filmed before her death in 2017, McCorvey says she didn’t really believe any of that stuff.
Christians just paid her to lie about it.
The LA Times‘ Meredith Blake explains:
“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 says in “AKA Jane Roe,” which premieres Friday on FX. “It was all an act. I did it well too. I am a good actress.”
In what she describes as a “deathbed confession,” a visibly ailing McCorvey restates her support for reproductive rights in colorful terms: “If a young woman wants to have an abortion, that’s no skin off my ass. That’s why they call it choice.”
The groups that paid her include Operation Rescue (now Operation Save America), once led by Pastor Rob Schenck, who now also regrets his anti-abortion past.
Schenck confirmed the payments:
[Schenck said] she was paid out of concern “that she would go back to the other side,” he says in the film. “There were times I wondered: Is she playing us? And what I didn’t have the guts to say was, because I know damn well we were playing her.”
It’s unclear how much she was paid, how often she was paid, or how long she was lying to reporters. It’s possible she was briefly anti-abortion, then stopped caring about the issue entirely, but kept the charade going to get cash. Either way, Schenck was well aware she didn’t really feel that way. How many other Christians were in on the con?
For a Christian-led movement that been built on telling lies about abortion — the process, the supposed consequences, what Planned Parenthood does, etc. — this is one of the biggest. And no one should expect the right-wing Christians who paraded McCorvey around for years as their biggest trophy to ever apologize for their role in the deception. They thrive on lying to people in the name of their cause. They’ve brainwashed plenty of people to go along for the ride. They’ve accumulated a lot of political power. Simply put, they’ve gotten too far to give a damn about taking advantage of yet another woman.
***Update***: The Daily Beast notes that the documentary shows how McCorvey received $456,911 in “benevolent gifts” from anti-abortion groups. They also include this line from Operation Rescue’s Rev. Flip Benham reacting to her confession:
Reverend Benham then blurts out, “Yeah, but she chose to be used. That’s called work. That’s what you’re paid to be doing!”
“She chose to be used.” That’s some serious Christian Right victim-blaming rhetoric for you.
(Screenshot via YouTube)