The plaintiff in Roe v. Wade was a young woman named Norma McCorvey, who is now a born-again Catholic pro-life activist. Joshua Prager at Vanity Fair has an eye-opening profile of her. Here’s a taste:
Young Norma McCorvey had not wanted to further a cause; she had simply wanted an abortion and could not get one in Texas. Even after she became a plaintiff, plucked from obscurity through little agency of her own, she never did get that abortion. McCorvey thus became, ironically, a symbol of the right to a procedure that she herself never underwent. And in the decades since the Roe decision divided the country, the issue of abortion divided McCorvey too. She started out staunchly pro-choice. She is now just as staunchly pro-life.
But in truth McCorvey has long been less pro-choice or pro-life than pro-Norma. And she has played Jane Roe every which way, venturing far from the original script to wring a living from the issue that has come to define her existence.
“I almost forgot i have a one thousand dollar fee,” she texted in August in response to a request for an interview. Told she could not be paid, she texted back: “Then we wont speak.”
The cliche of breaking eggs to make omelettes is never used in the article, but I think it describes the role McCorvey played in the Roe case, especially in relation to her lawyers. The case that eventually went to the Supreme Court was, to put it bluntly, not exactly Norma McCorvey’s idea. It was the work of her lawyers, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, who chose her as their ideal plaintiff. McCorvey at the time was dealing with an unwanted pregnancy and wanted an abortion, but she had little agency in bringing the case to the court system. Coffee and Weddington wanted to make an omelette—in this case, abortion rights for Texan women—and the egg they broke was giving Norma McCorvey a platform.
The whole article is worth a read.