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‘Jane Roe’ of historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision dies at 69

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Norma McCorvey—the anonymous ‘Jane Roe’ in the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal in the U.S.—died on Saturday in Katy, Texas at the age of 69.

According to journalist Joshua Prager via the New York Times, McCorvey died of heart failure while in an assisted-living home. 

Since the historic ruling, the Times reports, an estimated 50 million legal abortions have been performed in the U.S. According to recent reports, abortion is at its lowest rate since the court’s decision.

But despite McCorvey’s iconic role in securing safe abortions for women, the court case shaped her life in a way celebrants of Roe v. Wade may not anticipate. 

She was 22 when she began championing for abortions rights, and she was met with death threats and violence when she came out as Jane Roe a decade later. 

Yet, she later said she didn’t much understand the pro-choice cause. She hadn’t read the affidavit she signed that went on to challenge Texas’s anti-abortion laws, she said, and later, she said she lied to lawyers about certain details of her pregnancy in regards to the case.

After a series of religious changes in life, McCorvey began advocating for the anti-abortion movement in the mid-’90s, with the last decades of her life dedicated to undoing the court’s decision bearing her pseudonym, testifying in Congress, and attacking President Barack Obama.

“I wasn’t the wrong person to become Jane Roe,” McCorvey wrote in her 1994 book. “I wasn’t the right person to become Jane Roe. I was just the person who became Jane Roe, of Roe v. Wade. And my life story, warts and all, was a little piece of history.”

Read the full Times profile on McCorvey here.

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso

Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.