Norma McCorvey, otherwise known as the Jane Roe in Roe v. Wade, can add “actress” to her wide-ranging resume, with a small role in the psychological thrilled Doonby. Described as a cross between It’s a Wonderful Life and Crazy Heart, Doonby is about a drifter and the citizens of a small Texas town. McCorvey plays one of the townspeople, who tries to convince another woman not to have an abortion.
Despite her association with the pro-choice side of one of this country’s most famous court cases, it’s actually quite fitting that Norma McCorvey is playing an anti-choice woman. After all, that’s the role that she has chosen in real life, too. For years, McCorvey and her long-time partner, Connie Gonzalez, were harassed by anti-choicers; at one point, the harassment—which included shots being fired at her house—got so bad that McCorvey had to move out of state. In a 1994 New York Times profile, McCorvey is open not just about the harassment and fear, but her relationship with Gonzalez, her thoughts on Sarah Weddington, and her role in Roe. Her candor and resolve make what happened later that year and the next all the more surprising.
At a signing for her book I Am Roe, McCorvey was confronted by Flip Benham, who was then working for Operation Rescue. (Benham is currently the director of the anti-chioce organization Operation Save America.) Benham told McCorvey that she was responsible for the death of 33 million children; several months later, he opened OR’s national headquarters next door to the women’s clinic where McCorvey then worked. Benham and McCorvey eventually became friends, and in 1995, he baptized McCorvey. Following the baptism, McCorvey announced that she was anti-choice.
Since her conversion, McCorvey has publicly stated that she is no longer a lesbian, and she has been very vocal about her opposition to Roe. In 2005, she petitioned the Supreme Court to re-open, and overturn, her case; the justices declined to hear the case, as had two lower courts. She currently runs the Roe No More ministry, which is, naturally, against abortion but doesn’t offer any tangible alternatives—there is no information on the website about adoption or social services, or education about contraception. Rather, Roe No More appears to exist to tell McCorvey’s story, share information on how to book McCorvey as a public speaker, and sell her most recent book, Won by Love.
What Norma McCorvey decides to do with her life is up to her. Still, I can’t help but observe that while McCorvey has never had an abortion, she has experienced unplanned pregnancies and had to make some very difficult and personal choices. To now devote her life to taking away other women’s choices—much like another prominent anti-choicer—is hypocritical and disappointing, but most of all, it’s just sad.
Sarah's first book, Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement, will be out March 2013. For more information, follow her on Twitter @saraherdreich, or check out saraherdreich.com.