Who Was Jane Roe?

Congress recently dropped the Freedom of Choice Act, but abortion now looms as one of the biggest battles in the health care debate. Yet abortion is not just about laws and legal rights. Most of all, it's about people. To put a human face on the issue, let's look at the two Supreme Court cases-Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton-that drew the battle lines in the abortion war. Jane Roe's real name was Norma McCorvey. Married as a teenager, Norma was abandoned by her husband. She began to sleep with other men, became pregnant, and decided to abort-a fateful decision that spawned the infamous Roe v. Wade. But before the case was resolved in favor of legalized abortion, Norma's baby was already born and put up for adoption. Where is Norma McCorvey today? She has given up on men, it seems, and lives in a lesbian relationship. She's a fanatical defender of abortion, proudly referring to Roe v. Wade as "my law." The baby girl that she put up for adoption is grown up now-and, ironically, has become a committed prolifer. When she learned that her birth mother was the infamous "Jane Roe," the daughter was horrified and refused even to meet her. The companion case, Doe v. Bolton, involved another young woman: Sandra Cano. Like Norma, Sandra married as a teenager; her husband refused to support their three children, and they were placed in foster care. With her fourth pregnancy, Sandra decided to straighten out her life. She went to the Atlanta Legal Aid Society to regain custody of her children. But there she was talked into making a deal: They would help her, the lawyers said, only if she would join in a class-action suit they were planning. Only later did Sandra discover that the suit was another abortion case. Sandra didn't want an abortion-she didn't even believe in abortion-but now she had already committed herself to be a litigant in the case. Meanwhile, her baby was born and put up for adoption. Today Sandra is a strong prolife advocate who says, "I was just plain used." She has tracked down the daughter she gave up for adoption and discovered to her delight that she, too, is prolife. Today mother and daughter live together, and Sandra has the joy of watching her grandchildren grow up. These are the two faces behind the court cases: the heart-breaking stories of two young women, married to men who abandoned them or refused to support them, left to their own impoverished resources. Sandra Cano, of Doe v. Bolton, wasn't seeking an abortion-and she's still opposed to it. Today she has overcome her rough start in life and lives happily with her family. But Norma McCorvey, of Roe v. Wade, had children she didn't want by men she wasn't married to. Today she has no family; every night she goes to bed knowing that the daughter she tried to abort despises her. What a vivid illustration of the destructive effects of living outside God's law. So in the endless abstract debates over abortion, why don't you bring the focus back to real people, making real choices, with real consequences. Norma McCorvey has certainly suffered the consequences of her choices. And thanks to what she calls "my law," so have 27 million unborn babies.


Chuck Colson


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