Lessons from the Life of Norma McCorvey, “Roe” in Roe v. Wade

Norma McCorvey, better known by the pseudonym “Roe” in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, passed away this week due to heart failure. She was 69 years old.1

McCorvey was the plaintiff in a case that challenged Texas’ anti-abortion laws in 1971. By the time the Supreme Court decided the case, it was too late for McCorvey to have an abortion, and she had given up her baby for adoption. But the Roe v. Wade decision legalized elective abortion in the United States, and has led to the murder of over 50 million innocent babies.

Ironically and thankfully, this very woman, whose pseudonym was used in the legalization of elective abortion, later learned that abortion is murder and does great harm to women. Norma McCorvey confessed Christ and publicly fought against abortion. She spent the last years of her life speaking out on behalf of the preborn, unprotected children of America, writing a book about her transformation and founding a nonprofit advocacy group called Roe No More. She even filed a motion in Dallas in 2003 to have Roe v. Wade overturned. (Unfortunately this motion was dismissed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004.)

Here are two important, biblical lessons we can learn from McCorvey’s fascinating story:

  1. Even those most opposed to the truth today may change tomorrow. If Norma McCorvey can make a 180-degree turn on an issue as fundamental as the sanctity of all human life, do you suppose that your neighbor or friend can make a 180-degree turn toward Christ? “The Lord is … patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The anti-Christian Saul of Tarsus can become the great apostle Paul (see Acts 22).
  2. We may be unable to fully reverse the impact of our choices tomorrow, so we must serve Christ today. While McCorvey’s change from pro-death advocate to pro-life advocate is laudable, we cannot help but be saddened by the fact that she could not change the outcome and many effects of the Roe decision in her lifetime. Undoubtedly the pro-death movement would have found another plaintiff to use in the fight for abortion rights if McCorvey had not been there, and yet she did play a role. Many effects of her influence were irreversible, and the effects of our sins today may not be reversible tomorrow. Recall that Judas threw the blood money back at the chief priests and elders, but could not reverse the betrayal of Jesus (Matthew 27:3-10).

  1. Details from this article taken from Eliza Collins, “Norma McCorvey, ‘Roe’ in Roe v. Wade, is dead at 69,” USA Today (2017); Nicholas Frankovich, “What Motivated Norma McCorvey to Defend Unborn Children,” National Review, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/445095/norma-mccorvey-dies-roe-v-wade-christian-catholic-conversion-abortion-prolife-dignity-human-person (2017). 

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- 2017