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Crossing Over: How Jane Met Jesus - The Story of the real “Jane Roe” By John Lanier, Posted January 27, 2012


For 22 years, her life was a battlefield. She worked inside abortion clinics. She promoted legalized abortion. But she was tormented by what she saw and felt. In the summer of 1995, her life changed forever.

This is the story of Norma McCorvey - the real “Jane Roe” of the infamous Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade that ultimately legalized abortion in America in 1973 - igniting a battle that continues today.


McCorvey, the name Norma took as a result of her short-lived, teen-age marriage, grew up poor and felt unloved by her mother. She has a ninth-grade education, was a drug and alcohol abuser, and has taken jobs as a carnival worker and house cleaner.


In June of 1969, at the age of 21, Norma was pregnant with her third child. She had already given her other two children up for adoption and did not want to say goodbye to a third. So she decided to have an illegal abortion, but the Dallas clinic she went to had been recently raided and shut down.


Poor, pregnant, and desperate, McCorvey fell into the hands of two young and ambitious lawyers. They were looking for a plaintiff with whom they could challenge the Texas state law prohibiting abortion. Falsely telling her doctor and the lawyers that she had been raped, she signed an affidavit on condition of anonymity, and the lawsuit began. As “Jane Roe,” she became an icon in the national abortion debate.


Because of the time it took for the case to make its way through the courts, the decision did not come in time for Norma to have an abortion. She gave birth to her third child.


Though she was touted as a symbol of everything women could gain by being free to choose an abortion, the real Jane Roe was an embarrassment to the image that the Ivy League feminists tried so hard to project. Norma was uneducated, unskilled, a drug user, and an alcoholic.


In a 2001 World Net Daily interview with Julie Foster, McCorvey described how she was viewed by the pro-abortion community. "Plain and simple, I was used. I was a nobody to them. They only needed a pregnant woman to use for their case, and that is it. They cared, not about me, but only about legalizing abortion. Even after the case, I was never respected - probably because I was not an ivy-league educated, liberal feminist like they were."


Nonetheless, Norma says her life was inextricably tied up with abortion as the plaintiff of Roe v. Wade. “I could out-cuss the most crass of men and women; I could out-drink many of the Dallas taverns' regulars; and I was known for my hot temper. When pro-lifers called me a murderer, I called them worse. When people held up signs of aborted fetuses, I spit in their face. Though I had never had one, abortion was the sun around which my life orbited. I once told a reporter, ‘This issue is the only thing I live for. I live, eat, breathe, think everything about abortion.’”


Yet, as the Roe v. Wade trial progressed up the judicial ladder, the plaintiff never saw the inside of a courtroom as "Roe." She says she was told she didn't need to be there. It was only after the Supreme Court made its decision in 1973 that she began to follow the ramifications of the case.


Having remained the anonymous “Roe” for so many years, McCorvey made news headlines when she broke her silence to a Dallas television reporter in 1980. After revealing her identity, she encountered severe harassment and violence…people yelling at her in public places, and even shooting at her house.


In other interviews that followed, she also admitted she had lied about the rape. The rape story was of little consequence to her lawyers, because they wanted to establish a right to abortion for all women, not just those who had been raped.


It was also through subsequent interviews that McCorvey revealed her homosexual lifestyle. Though she had been pregnant three times, she had relationships with women as well, including one partner she lived with for nearly two decades.


By the early 1990s, McCorvey began to show signs of emotional distress and mental anguish. She told the New York Times in a 1990 interview that she had become “terribly depressed.” “I had to lie all the time. And the depression periods got deeper and longer until the night I cut my wrists.” After several suicide attempts, she eventually received psychiatric help.


No longer anonymous, Norma had aligned herself with the pro-choice movement, even speaking at the U.S. Capital in Washington, D.C. and working in several clinics where abortions were provided. Co-authored with Andy Meisler, she chronicled the events that led her to the role of “Jane Roe” and the twenty years that followed in a 1994 book release entitled, I Am Roe: My Life, Roe V. Wade, and Freedom of Choice.


But the final chapter of I Am Roe would not mark the end of Norma McCorvey’s story. She would soon meet love and grace in the most unexpected places, eventually leading her to healing and redemption.


In 1995, the pro-life organization Operation Rescue moved in next door to a Dallas abortion clinic - where McCorvey happened to be working at the time. It was there she met Operation Rescue leader Rev. Philip “Flip” Benham. “I called him ‘Flip Venom,’” she remembers, “and he called me ‘responsible for the deaths of 35 million children.’”


Occasionally, their clashes in the parking lot would collapse into conversation. During one friendly banter, Norma goaded Flip, “What you need is to go to a good Beach Boys concert." Flip answered, "Miss Norma, I haven't been to a Beach Boys concert since 1976."


“The seemingly innocuous response shook me to the core,” Norma recalls. “All at once, Flip became human to me. I saw him in a new light.”


She continued the teasing. "Come on, Flip, I didn't know you were ever a sinner."


"Miss Norma," Flip said, "I’m a great big sinner, saved by a great big God.”


“Of all the things I expected Flip to say, this wasn't one of them,” Norma says.


As they chatted outside on the bench between offices, however, Flip began sharing some stories of his past and out of this vulnerability an unlikely friendship was born. Soon, other O.R. volunteers began reaching out to her, dropping scriptures and snippets of the Gospel whenever she seemed willing to receive them.


As her mind was challenged to consider the truth of the Gospel, McCorvey says God began working on her heart through an eight-year-old girl named Emily, the daughter of O.R. volunteer Ronda Mackey.


Understandably, McCorvey admittedly had difficulty relating to children. She explains, “I had given birth to three, all of whom had been placed for adoption (one of them against my will). And because I worked in an abortion clinic, I was fearful of bonding with anyone so young. It was part of my denial. When you know what is happening to the children behind closed doors, it's difficult to become attached to them outside.”


But Emily's blatant affection, frequent hugs, and direct pursuit disarmed her. The little girl's interest was all the more surprising considering Emily made it very clear to Norma that her acceptance of her wasn't an acceptance of her lifestyle. Early on in their relationship, Norma explained to Emily, "I like kids and wouldn't let anyone hurt little kids," to which Emily responded, "Then why do you let them kill the babies at the clinic?"


On another occasion, Norma invited Emily into her office. As she made appointments, Emily kept herself occupied. During one phone call, Norma lost her temper and said to a caller, "I'd just as soon see you in hell as see you in here," and Emily responded, "You don't have to go to hell, Miss Norma. You can pray right now and Jesus will forgive you."


According to Norma, it was this childlike faith that cut open her heart, making her receptive to the truth being shared by the adult volunteers at O.R. “I wasn't won over by compelling apologetics,” she says, “I had a ninth grade education and a very soft heart. While the O.R. adults targeted my mind, Emily went straight for the heart. And over time, Emily began to personify the issue of abortion - especially when Ronda broke down and told me that Emily had almost been aborted.”


“Shortly after Ronda told me her story, I was walking outside a furniture store, shopping with her and the girls,” Norma continues. “I was stunned when I saw Ronda's bumper sticker, "Abortion Stops a Beating Heart," which has a vividly red heart on the side. All the sudden, I saw Emily's heart in that sticker and it just about destroyed me when I realized that "my law" (as I once fondly referred to Roe v. Wade) had almost snuffed out young Emily's life. I asked to be taken home immediately, but later that afternoon, I spent over an hour on the phone with Ronda and a deep friendship was solidified. I was forever changed by this experience. Abortion was no longer an "abstract right." It had a face now, in a little girl named Emily.”


Noticeably, McCorvey was becoming increasingly alienated from the abortion movement. Most of the abortion advocacy movement was afraid of her blue collar, tough-talking and unrefined ways. She spoke her mind, and the abortion movement's leadership kept as wide a hedge around her as possible. She wasn't asked to address the huge 1989 march in Washington, nor was she even invited to the 1993 twentieth anniversary celebration of Roe v Wade, held at the White House. As her friendship with Flip drew national attention, she started receiving even more ridicule from her abortion advocate ‘friends.’


Ronda heard her eight-year-old daughter pray every morning, “Dear God, please don't let any babies be killed and make it so that abortion will end. And help Miss Norma to come to Jesus."


Ronda didn't want Emily to be disillusioned about God not answering her prayers, so she explained, "God always answers our prayers, Emily, but Miss Norma has a choice to make here. She probably won't choose to follow Jesus. That's Miss Norma's fault, not God's. I don't want you to think God isn't listening to your prayers simply because Miss Norma doesn't become a Christian." Emily smiled. "She's going come to know Jesus, mama." And with the faith of a child, Emily kept asking Norma to go to church with her.


After gently declining numerous invitations, Norma finally said yes - not because she suddenly felt a need for God in her life, but because she grew tired of telling Emily no. “Whatever my reasons for going, one sermon was all I needed,” affirms Norma. “Pastor Morris Sheats of Hillcrest Church ended his sermon with a compelling evangelistic call from John 3:16 asking, "Is anyone here tired of living a sinner's life?" Immediately I felt overwhelmed with my need to respond.”


Describing her life-changing experience, Norma recalls, “How could I say no? I had been tired of it for years, but it was the only life I knew! I cautiously raised my hand, then opened my eyes and looked up to see if that really was my hand raised up high. It was. I couldn't believe it. I walked forward, leaning heavily on Ronda for support. When I reached Pastor Sheats, I saw Jesus in his eyes. It made me feel so incredibly sorry for all my sins, especially for my role in legalizing abortion. I just kept repeating over and over, "I just want to undo all the evil I've done in this world. I'm so sorry, God. I'm so, so sorry. As far as abortion is concerned, I just want to undo it. I want it all to just go away." Finally, I stopped crying and broke into the biggest smile of my life. I no longer felt the pressure of my sin pushing down on my shoulders. The release was so quick that I felt like I could almost float outside.”


Shocking the world, the picture of McCorvey’s baptism made headlines in international newspapers. "The poster child for abortion just jumped off the poster," one pro-lifer said, "and into the arms of Jesus Christ.” She also renounced the homosexual lifestyle, and has since lived as a single, Christian woman.


The political ramifications of her conversion to Christianity soon followed. Many found it hard to believe that Jane Roe could be saved by grace. Leaders in the pro-abortion movement saw it as a cry for attention. Pro-lifers were skeptical, and the media was all over it. McCorvey had indeed become a new creature in Christ. But, as with any new believer, she had a lot of learning and growing ahead of her.


She disappointed many in the Christian community and pro-life movement when, even after her salvation experience, she maintained her belief that a woman should be allowed to have an abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. The media used this to downplay the sincerity of her conversion, saying she typified the “general ambivalence” of our culture over abortion. But just a few weeks after becoming a Christian, she says she came to a new realization when she noticed a fetal development poster displayed in the offices of Operation Rescue.


“The progression was so obvious, the eyes were so sweet. It hurt my heart, just looking at them. I ran outside and finally, it dawned on me. "Norma," I said to myself, "They're right." I had worked with pregnant women for years. I had been through three pregnancies and deliveries myself. I should have known. Yet something in that poster made me lose my breath. I kept seeing the picture of that tiny, ten-week-old embryo, and I said to myself, that's a baby! It's as if blinders just fell off my eyes and I suddenly understood the truth - that's a baby!”


“I felt "crushed" under the truth of this realization,” she continues. “I had to face up to the awful reality. Abortion wasn't about 'products of conception.' It wasn't about 'missed periods.' It was about children being killed in their mother's wombs. All those years I was wrong. Signing that affidavit, I was wrong. Working in an abortion clinic, I was wrong. No more of this first trimester, second trimester, third trimester stuff. Abortion - at any point - was wrong. It was so clear. Painfully clear.”


For two years after her conversion, McCorvey worked with Operation Rescue. In 1997, she left to establish her own pro-life outreach, “Roe No More,” with the assistance of her friend, Ronda Mackey.


The following year, in 1998, Thomas Nelson publishers released McCorvey’s second book, Won By Love. In this book, she details the definitive inside story about the Roe v. Wade decision - the truth, the lies, the pain - and the ultimate victory she found in Christ. It is the complete, compelling true story of “Jane Roe” and Norma McCorvey.


McCorvey’s story was also told in the 2002 documentary film, Reversing Roe: The Norma McCorvey Story. In 2007, she appeared alongside Joyce Zounis, who had seven abortions, in another film entitled, I Was Wrong - a moving documentary that captures the changed hearts of two women forever altered by abortion.


In December of 2003, Norma changed the name of her outreach to Crossing Over Ministry to symbolize both her being “Roe no more” and her “crossing” to a new and exciting step in her life - a life no longer defined by her involvement in the Roe v. Wade case.


Through her Crossing Over Ministry, Norma strives to spread the hope that is found in the salvation of one of the abortion industry’s most famous supporters - Jane Roe, herself. She speaks out publicly about abortion from a pro-life/Christian perspective. Having worked on both sides of the issue, Norma shares her knowledge and experience to educate women with the truth about abortion and the pro-choice movement.


Crossing Over Ministry also serves as a catalyst to assist other pro-life organizations in their particular areas of expertise. Norma is aware that there are many lesser known - and yet significant - organizations dedicated to helping unborn children and their mothers. She attempts to use her leverage to promote some of these organizations and further their development.


Norma also has a special passion for crisis pregnancy centers. These organizations - which now outnumber abortion clinics nationwide - assist women who become pregnant in difficult circumstances.


Since surrendering her heart to Jesus Christ, Norma McCorvey has been committed to the fight for life. For the past sixteen plus years she has traveled throughout America and several foreign countries sharing her testimony, educating women, defending the right to live for the unborn, and promoting the sanctity of human life. She has ministered in a variety of venues ranging from church congregations to civic organizations. She has shared her story on major television news shows and has testified before different congressional committees. She has supported and actively co-labored with various pregnancy resource centers and pro-life organizations. Even today, at age 64, she works tirelessly to overturn Roe v. Wade.


Norma McCorvey’s conversion is one for the ages. With an endearing humility and gratitude that is reflected in her voice and demeanor, Miss Norma, as she likes to be called, says, “It wasn't until I had a regenerated heart that the truth of what abortion does could find a place in my intellect. Once that truth took hold, there was no turning back. I'm one hundred percent sold out to Jesus and one hundred percent pro-life. No exceptions. No compromise."



*Special thanks to news journalist Julie Foster and World Net Daily for their generous resource contributions. (www.wnd.com)


*Special thanks to Miss Norma McCorvey for her time and efforts in presenting this story, and for allowing us to share it with our readers.


*Special thanks to Mr. Allan Parks of The Justice Foundation, Dallas, TX, for his invaluable input, assistance and additional resources.

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