May 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Roe v. Wade plaintiff said she was paid to support anti-abortion movement

Norma McCorvey testifies before a Senate subcommittee on the 25th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 2003. She told the panel she believed the case was wrongly decided. Photo: Chris Kleponis/AFP via Getty Images

Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that protected women's abortion rights, told a documentary crew in a 2017 "deathbed confession" that she was paid to support the anti-abortion movement during the later years of her life, the Los Angeles Times reports.

What she said: "I was the big fish. I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money and they’d put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. That’s what I’d say," McCovey told the makers of "AKA Jane Roe," which premieres Friday on FX.

  • "It was all an act. I did it well, too. I am a good actress."
  • "If a young woman wants to have an abortion, that’s no skin off my ass. That’s why they call it choice."

The big picture: McCorvey was never fully embraced by abortion-rights activists after she revealed herself to be the named Roe plaintiff in the 1980s due to inconsistencies in her account.

  • She claimed that her pregnancy that kicked off the case was a result of rape before later saying that she had lied.

The other side: Rob Schenck, an evangelical minister and former leader of anti-abortion rights group Operation Rescue, confirmed McCorvey's account, saying the group paid her out of fears "that she would go back to the other side."

  • "What we did with Norma was highly unethical. The jig is up," Schenck told the filmmakers.
  • "There were times I wondered: Is she playing us? And what I didn’t have the guts to say was, because I know damn well we were playing her."
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