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Norma McCorvey, Roe v. Wade Plaintiff, Dies Aged 69

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Norma McCorvey, best known as ‘Jane Roe’ of the milestone supreme court case Roe v. Wade, has died in her home state of Texas, at the age of 69. The cause of death was heart failure. Her daughter Melissa and several grandchildren were present at the time of death.

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When she was just 23 years old and pregnant for the third time, McCorvey became the anonymous lead plaintiff in a historic class-action lawsuit which challenged the law prohibiting abortions, except to save the life of a pregnant woman. McCorvey herself was mostly interested in terminating the pregnancy; in the three years it took for the case to reach the Supreme Court, she never attended a single trial. During that time, her baby girl was born and eventually adopted.

As we know, the Supreme Court eventually handed down its infamous 7-to-2 ruling, affirming the legality of women’s right to have an abortion under the 14th Amendment. In the eighties, McCorvey went public with her identity and claimed she was used by two ambitious lawyers who were looking for a suitable plaintiff. Shortly thereafter, she wrote a book titled ‘I am Roe,’ in which she described the details of her tough upbringing. For a while, she continued to campaign in support of abortion clinics.

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In 1995, McCorvey came to meet Flip Benham, the leader of an anti-abortion group called Operation Rescue. After getting to know Benham and attending a church meeting, McCorvey abruptly converted to Christianity. She was later baptized on national television, at which point she switched allegiances and started working for the anti-abortion movement. In a strange turn of events, she became a fierce proponent of the very ruling that made her famous.

In 1998, McCorvey wrote her second book, titled ‘Won by Love.’ In it, she explained the reasons behind her conversion to Christianity and stated that she was now 100% pro-life. She formed her own ministry called Roe No More, and started traveling around the country and speaking out against abortion. Over the years, she was involved in other legal challenges to Roe; despite that, most of her activism was closely tied to religious groups opposing Roe.

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Travis Lindquist/Getty Images

In 2008, McCorvey publicly endorsed Ron Paul for president, stating that they both wanted to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision. In addition to that, she was very vocal in protesting against Obama. On one occasion, she was arrested for disrupting the proceedings during a Supreme Court hearing.

McCorvey’s life and career were the subject of a 2006 pro-choice documentary named ‘Lake of Fire.’

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