The Legacy of Jane Roe and the Landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Case That Changed America

In 1970, the woman at the heart of Roe v. Wade — Norma McCorvey --- was a self-proclaimed confused 21-year-old mother who found herself pregnant. Three years later, she would take on the pseudonym “Jane Roe,” and become the prominent plaintiff in the history-making Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade. After the landmark Supreme Court decision, McCorvey dedicated her life to overturning it, and became a notable pro-life advocate.

On Saturday, McCorvey died as a pro-life advocate at the age of 69.

"So McCorvey's child was over two years old and had been adopted by the time the Supreme Court actually came out with its ruling. She said, at the time I fought to obtain a legal abortion, but truth be told, I have three daughters and never had one, which is something that is left out of the story often," Co-host Stu Burguiere said on The Glenn Beck Program.

Of her role in the landmark court case, McCorvery had this to say in 2012:

I’m Norma McCorvey, the former Jane Roe of the Roe vs. Wade decision that brought "legal" child killing to America. I was persuaded by feminist attorneys to lie; to say that I was raped, and needed an abortion. It was all a lie. Since then, over 50 million babies have been murdered. I will take this burden to my grave.

Enjoy the complimentary clip above or read the transcript below for details.

PAT: The reason we have abortion on demand today is because of someone named Norma McCorvey, just a young woman who had an unwanted pregnancy and she decided to have an abortion.

STU: Just 21 years old.

PAT: Yeah, just 21.

STU: She herself said she was very confused at the time.

PAT: Right.

STU: She had gone through sort of crazy relationship issues.

PAT: And she was only pushed toward abortion when she went for help. She was pushed toward abortion. And from just about the minute she had the abortion, she regretted it. Actually, did she have the abortion?

STU: No.

PAT: I don't think she even wound up having the abortion, now that I think of this. She didn't even have an abortion.

STU: Yeah. That's the interesting part of the story.

PAT: She actually wound up having her child.

STU: Because the court case took too long.

PAT: That's right.

STU: She had birthed before that. And it wasn't immediately after. She had a period where she was still on board.

PAT: Still okay with it. That's right. That's right. Took a few years.

STU: And advocated for abortion and eventually turned around. One of the interesting things about it is, in the abortion debate, you always hear this: Well, what? So if the life of the mother is in danger, you want there to be no abortion. That's what you want when you say you want Roe vs. Wade repealed.

PAT: And, by the way, first of all, thing one, that almost never happens.

STU: No. Almost --

PAT: If this were 1783, it would happen all the time.

STU: Yeah, yeah, very important in 1700s.

PAT: It isn't the 1700s anymore. Or even the 1800s or even the 1900s. It's 2017. And doctors will just tell you that just doesn't happen. I've talked to doctors who have delivered thousands, tens of thousands of babies. And they've told me it's never happened.

STU: I will say particularly with partial-birth abortion, they say it never happens. You know, a pregnancy can complicate a lot of different things, obviously. And so it's not -- you know, the earlier it is, the more common. But, still, the issue with this particular thing, which I find to be so interesting is that when row -- Jane row, also known as Norma McCorvey, went to the doctor back in the day -- at that time in Texas, abortion was legal in the case of the mother's life being endangered.

PAT: Hmm.


STU: That was the only exception they had at the time. But they had that exception before Roe vs. Wade in the state where Roe went to get the abortion. That is how ridiculous this has been twisted.

PAT: Uh-huh.

STU: That has always been an exception. It is a pre Roe vs. Wade exception. And honestly like an understandable one in that at the very least you're making some decision -- it's at least justifiable in that you might make the decision based on -- you're essentially choosing one life over the other at that point.

PAT: Oh, if it's between my wife and the unborn baby --

STU: Of course.

PAT: -- you're choosing the mother of your children every time. The love of your life.

JEFFY: You have to, right? You have to.

STU: So McCorvey's child was over two years old and had been adopted by the time the Supreme Court actually came out with its ruling. She said, at the time I fought to obtain a legal abortion, but truth be told, I have three daughters and never had one, which is something that is left out of the story often.

She -- the case went on for a long time. It wasn't until the mid-'90s that she became a born-again Christian and was received by the Catholic Church. I think she was Catholic for a while. I think she converted from that too. But she remained Christian. She said that she became a real -- a real outspoken opponent of abortion. I mean, think about this. You know, think about -- like what if Rosa Parks was, "You know, I was wrong about those buses." This is a big change. You know what, we should be sitting in the back. I got to be wrong on that one.

That would be a story, I feel like.

PAT: Yes, it would be a story.

STU: I don't think that would have ever happened. But it's an interesting thing in that this is the case, the name that everyone knows, Roe, this is the woman who came out and advocated against this procedure for two decades.

PAT: If it was Wade, you wouldn't have minded as much.

STU: No.

PAT: Because Wade was the person trying to allow her to have the abortion, right?

STU: No.

PAT: Or actually Wade didn't want her to. She was fighting for --

STU: Roe was the one. Yeah.

PAT: But, I mean, it's never talked about that even the person who got this law overturned, all through America and legalized abortion, even she was a very staunch abortion opponent.

STU: So she went as far as to work for an abortion clinic. Okay? She was working at an abortion clinic. And she had an anti-abortion group move in next door to her. I mean, think about this. They always say, "Oh, you shouldn't be able to protest out in front of one of these clinics." Think of this story: They moved in next door. During smoke breaks -- during smoke breaks, someone from Operation Rescue, which is Reverend Philip Benham said she was completely pro-abortion.

They started talking. Slowly, they became friends. And that was kind of the genesis of her conversion. And, I mean, it's an incredible story.

If this was the opposite -- like, for example, you know, some terrible ruling that the person who was involved in it recanted and went the other way. And I say a terrible ruling as far as the left's perspective. This would be the ultimate movie. This woman's story would be an incredible movie telling this incredible conversion.

JEFFY: Conversion.

STU: Yeah. I mean, I'm trying to think of a good example of one. But there's been many of those stories, where the person comes out and at first advocates for the wrong side of the policy. And then history proves that they wound up being on the right side in the end because they converted in the middle and took a tough stand and couldn't believe what they previously had stood for. That's this story.

PAT: Right.

STU: It's just a policy they don't like, so almost no one knows it. And --

PAT: You're right. She would be celebrated. I mean, there would have been many, many major motion picture movies released about her.

JEFFY: What's interesting that too is that she began her conversion just by talking, you know, out back, smoking a graduate with the people that were against it next door. Didn't have anything to do with burning cars, throwing signs, hollering, dragging crosses across the street. It was just --

PAT: Killing abortion clinic doctors. None of that extremism.

JEFFY: Right. None of that. None of that.

PAT: How old was she?

STU: She was only 69. And she was in an assisted living facility.

JEFFY: At 69?

STU: Yeah, really -- really sad. Because, you know, was an important voice. The voice, really.

PAT: Yeah.

STU: And an incredible thing -- an incredible turn of events. And I still think to this day -- and I've said it before on the air that I think this is going to be looked back in whatever -- 100, 200 years -- I don't know what the time line is, as the slavery of our day. The type of thing that people who believe and advocated for it will be trashed by future generations, the way they trashed the Founders for having slaves. And, again, a lot of that is unfair. And you have to view it in the period of the -- you know, you have to view it in the context of the time where it occurs. But it's the type of thing that will be so unthinkable, particularly as technology advances.

We're to the point now -- we showed a video on Pat and Stu the other day of a new type of ultrasound.

Thank you, Jeffy.

A new type of ultrasound where you can see the baby doing baby things. This is not like it's blurry and you can kind of see the face. They had the 3D ultrasounds that came out, you know, within the last, what? Fifteen years. And now they're kind of common. You can get them. They're more expensive.

But it's like to the point of basically you see the baby playing and turning around and doing all sorts of things that you'd recognize from a baby. And this is at 20 weeks.


STU: This technology is going to prove to people that this is a crazy process.

PAT: And you think, wow, that's an active piece of broccoli in there.

STU: No, it's not broccoli, Pat. No, it's going to be a baby. Yeah, it's a baby.

PAT: Wow.

JEFFY: My heart must be working on that carburetor for that Buick moving around.

STU: No, it's not a Buick. It's not a Buick. It's a baby.

PAT: Are you sure?

STU: And over time, technology is working against the, quote, unquote, pro-choice argument here. The more we see these little pieces of broccoli as babies, the harder it is for people to justify this decision.

PAT: Yeah. And it's interesting because Beyonce is being celebrated right now because she's so very, very pregnant. And she's not pregnant with tissue or a Buick. She's pregnant with twin babies. Babies. And they've said it. And she says it. And, well, okay. Then how is it that nobody else is pregnant with babies? They're pregnant with tissue or a fetus or you don't want to say the word.

JEFFY: It's really strange that she's --

PAT: It's a weird phenomenon.

JEFFY: I mean, Beyonce is celebrated for -- because, well, she's the queen. But, I mean, over the past few years, they've really celebrated several -- numbers of celebrities for having babies, that it's this wonderful thing.

Like, what are you talking about?

STU: Well, and that's, of course, because they all know it's true.

PAT: Sure they do.

STU: They all know it.

PAT: They do.

STU: They all realize.

PAT: And that's why I cut them no slack for the time period. Because the time period is 2017. They know what's growing inside the woman and it's a human baby. They know that.

STU: Understood. However, I will say, it's a legal process. Society has decided --

PAT: Still.

STU: And really, the courts have decided that this is a legal process. So it should be viewed within that context. I think there are a lot of people who look -- you know, I'm not thinking about the thinkers. I'm not talking about people who are involved in this debate. You know, the debate as currently constructed is debating about whether it should be allowed before -- or excuse me, only before 20 weeks. I mean, there's -- we're talking -- we're giving you a five-month window to figure out whether or not you're going to keep this thing or not. And that's still considered too restrictive. It's not considered too restrictive in Europe. But it's too restrictive here. So that's completely different.

I think a lot of people who go to an abortion clinic, who grow up in a family where this is approved of, they just don't go into deep thought about it. It's a legal thing. They have a problem. They eliminate the problem.

And that is what -- you know, why it's important for us to continue blabbing about it. I mean, there have been hosts that have banned abortion talk on the air. We didn't talk about it all that often for a decent amount of this show's history. And we've talked about that before. It is important to talk about. It needs to be thought about.

You don't get the pass of, well, I don't know, it's legal, and it would solve my current problem as is. It needs to be considered thoughtfully.

JEFFY: And being against abortion is not hating women.

STU: No.

PAT: It's just the opposite. Just slightly over half of the people born will be women.

STU: Yeah, 27, 28 million would be alive under our policy.

PAT: Yeah.

STU: That would not be alive under the left's policy.

PAT: The hateful thing is to terminate all of those women, all of those females. That's the War on Women right there. You know, in Australia -- an Australian politician just said that -- because I guess in Queensland, Australia, they're -- it's still a criminal offense to have an abortion in some circumstances. And some MPs have said they won't support the legislation to decriminalize it. It's only lawful to prevent serious danger to the woman's physical or mental health.

But there's a politician saying that he believes these politicians owe women an explanation. It's a real cop out. If you're voting no, then you're saying it's appropriate for it to remain in the criminal code. Well, yeah, murder should remain in the criminal code.

And they're trying to make a big issue out of this. Because they're acting as if the women are the criminals, when the ones that are charged are the doctors. If you perform -- just like in this country, when there was -- when there was a criminal act involved in the abortion, it was the doctors that were held accountable, not the women.

STU: I see what you're saying. You're saying women can't be doctors.

PAT: Well, okay. Women doctors sometimes could be involved here.


STU: Unbelievable.

You played that trick on me a few weeks ago. But, yeah, I mean, obviously that's the way it's typically enforced.

But, I mean, really, it's not -- while the legality issue is incredibly crucial. And, you know, when you have something that is -- violates a central tenet of this country being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, when you have something that so clearly violates that tenet, I can't -- it needs to be more than legal. Right? It's a situation where we wake up. We talked about this a while ago. In the 1950s, 45 percent of white people said, if a black person moved in next door to them, they'd move. Forty-five percent of white people in a poll said that.

JEFFY: What year was that?

STU: 1954. Mid-'50s.

Now that number -- well, and this is a number that's now 20 years old. I haven't seen an update for it because the poll I saw said only 1996 was the latest they did this. In 1996, it was 2 percent.

JEFFY: Yeah.

STU: From 45 to 2 percent. That's not because of law. That's not because they passed laws saying that black people must move next to white people.

It's because people -- white people over time realized how dumb their position was. Right? And they had a moral change of their heart, understanding the reality of the situation, which is that you shouldn't move out of your house if black people move in next door. It sounds silly.

JEFFY: It sure does.

STU: To say that now. Back then it was half of white people said that, almost. Forty-five -- and, you know, we know how difficult it is to deal with realtors and all the paperwork and all the craziness. This is not like I wouldn't go talk to my neighbor if he was black. This is, I would move. I would leave my home if a black person moved in next door. That number goes from 45 to 2 percent. Not because of law. Because people had a change of heart. Because people made convincing arguments over a long period of time. And right now, while it's a very split partisan issue, it shouldn't be. It shouldn't be that.

And, you know, a lot of people say, "Well, you know, you should be able to have it for X amount of time. And afterwards, you know, then it has to stop." The majority of the people say no to late terms. And that's good. But you need to be consistent here.

PAT: It's pretty close on abortion at all.

STU: Yeah, it's about split.

PAT: It's about split halfway down the country right now. It's almost 50/50. But I think it's 53/47. Something else. Right in there. So I think we have the momentum right now, and we just need to keep it.

STU: Yeah.

JEFFY: Good.


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