Norma McCorvey, the previously unidentified woman known as ‘Jane Roe’ in the milestone Roe v. Wade case, makes a stunning confession in a new FX documentary about her life: She was paid by the evangelical Christian right to disingenuously further their anti-abortion agenda.
McCorvey became a pivotal fixture of the U.S. abortion rights movement after becoming a plaintiff as out-of-work, unwed, and unable to get an abortion in the state of Texas in 1969. McCorvey was an imperfect and controversial public face for the pro-choice movement. But in the mid-1990s, she seemingly flipped sides, joining the right in their anti-choice crusade after claiming to become a born-again Christian.
“This is my deathbed confession,” McCorvey says in a trailer for the forthcoming film AKA Jane Roe. According to director Nick Sweeney and in McCorvey’s own words, her public support of the anti-choice movement was “all an act,” and McCorvey describes herself in the film as “a good actress.”
“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,” she says, per the Los Angeles Times. Per the Daily Beast, the documents revealed in the documentary disclose that Roe received at least $US456,911 ($699,169) in “benevolent gifts.”
Sweeney told the Times that the film is meant to explore how, with the extremely polarising topic like abortion, “there can be a temptation for different players to reduce ‘Jane Roe’ to en emblem or a trophy, and behind that is a real person with a real story. Norma was incredibly complex.”
Indeed, McCorvey’s story isn’t easily unpacked. Per a Dallas Morning News obituary from when she died in 2017, McCorvey said that she lied about being raped in order to attain an abortion, which she wasn’t able to have due to the case taking so long. The film explores her troubled upbringing, alleged sexual abuse by a family member, and her relationship with longtime girlfriend Connie Gonzalez, whom she reportedly continued seeing long after her “conversion.”
Per the Times, Rob Schenck, an evangelical minister who was formerly closely linked to the anti-choice cause, says in the film that what the movement “did with Norma was highly unethical. The jig is up.”
AKA Jane Roe premieres May 23 on FX in the U.S. It is currently undated in Australia.