Since 1973, Roe vs Wade has been one of the most controversial legal decisions made by the Supreme Court of the United States. This landmark case legalised abortion in the country, and it was named after the pseudonym of a woman who challenged the constitutionality of Texas laws that prohibited abortions, except to save the mother’s life. Despite the significance of the case, many people still do not know who Roe is. This article explores the identity and story of the woman behind Roe vs Wade.
Early Life of Norma McCorvey
The woman known as Roe was born as Norma Leah Nelson in 1947 in Simmesport, Louisiana. She grew up in a difficult environment, with parents who separated when she was young. Norma experienced abuse from her mother’s boyfriends and was placed in state custody at the age of ten.
After running away from various foster homes, Norma ended up living with her mother once again. At the age of 13, she was raped by a relative of her mother’s, and she was sent to the state reform school for girls. Norma escaped from the school and ended up living with her father in Houston, Texas.
Unfortunately, her father was abusive as well, and he kicked her out of the house when she was 14 years old. Norma then began to live on the streets and got involved in petty crimes.
At the age of 21, Norma became pregnant for the third time. She had given up her previous two children for adoption, and she did not have any financial or emotional stability to raise a child.
Norma attempted to find a doctor who would perform an abortion, but her efforts were unsuccessful due to the laws in Texas that prohibited abortions except in cases where the mother’s life was in danger. She then sought the help of two lawyers who were interested in challenging the constitutionality of the Texas abortion laws.
Norma was represented in court as Jane Roe by Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, two lawyers who had just graduated from law school. The case was filed against Henry Wade, the district attorney in Dallas County, Texas, who was responsible for enforcing the state’s abortion laws.
The case went through several levels of litigation before it reached the Supreme Court in 1973. The court ruled that a woman had a constitutional right to choose abortion, within certain limits, and that the state could not prohibit women from seeking an abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy.
After the Case
Norma did not have an abortion, as the case was ongoing, and she ultimately gave up her baby for adoption. She struggled with drug and alcohol abuse after the case and led a difficult life.
However, she later found religion and became an advocate for the pro-life movement. She wrote a book in 1994, “I am Roe,” which expressed regret for her role in the landmark case and advocated for overturning the decision.
The story of Roe vs Wade is complex and tragic, reflecting the struggles of a woman who led a difficult life, and a society grappling with issues of women’s rights, privacy, and the value of human life. While the ruling has been debated and contested for almost half a century, it remains a landmark decision in American law and a powerful symbol of the ongoing debate over abortion.
- Jones, J. W. (2006). Roe v. Wade: The untold story of the landmark Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal. Copley Publishing Group.
- McCorvey, N., & Meisner, A. (1994). I am Roe. HarperCollins.
- Taylor, L. (2020). Norma McCorvey, ‘Jane Roe’ of Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, dies at 69. The Washington Post
Frequently Asked Questions about Norma McCorvey and Roe vs Wade
- Q: Was Norma McCorvey paid for her participation in Roe vs Wade?
- A: No, Norma was not paid for her participation in the case. She sought the help of lawyers who were interested in challenging the constitutionality of the Texas abortion laws.
- Q: Did Norma McCorvey have an abortion?
- A: No, Norma did not have an abortion. She gave up her child for adoption.
- Q: What did Norma McCorvey feel about abortion later in life?
- A: Norma became an advocate for the pro-life movement later in life and expressed regret for her role in the landmark case.
- Q: Who was Henry Wade?
- A: Henry Wade was the district attorney in Dallas County, Texas, who was responsible for enforcing the state’s abortion laws. He was the defendant in the Roe vs Wade case.