Jane Roe a Complex Woman 25 Years after Abortion Case

By Currie, Susie Powell | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 20, 1998 | Go to article overview

Jane Roe a Complex Woman 25 Years after Abortion Case


Currie, Susie Powell, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Norma McCorvey, whose challenge to Texas' abortion laws led to the Supreme Court's landmark Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, continues to be a hot media property 25 years later.

The cable channel Cinemax has completed a documentary film on her life just as a Nashville publisher is releasing Miss McCorvey's autobiography. Both are being released this month to mark the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in 1973. Miss McCorvey herself will be testifying on the case before a Senate panel tomorrow morning.

While both the movie and book record Miss McCorvey's life, conversion to Christianity and subsequent repudiation of abortion, they differ strikingly in tone, emphasis and their accounts of key episodes and relationships that helped shape Miss McCorvey's pro-life views.

Although Cinemax, a division of Time-Warner's HBO cable empire, approached Thomas Nelson Publishers about combining to promote both the book, "Won by Love," and the movie, "Roe vs. Roe: Baptism by Fire," the publishing house has been unable to obtain a copy of the film. Miss McCorvey and her housemate Connie Gonzales were the only ones in the documentary allowed to see the film before it airs. Members of the media were also sent copies.

"That's standard procedure," explains Cinemax producer Meghan O'Hara.

Miss McCorvey is reserving comment about the film, saying only, "I think it's as good as they can do." Sources say terms of the confidential contract call for Miss McCorvey to promote the film in any speaking engagements up to a certain date.

Miss O'Hara and two fellow filmmakers met Miss McCorvey in 1994, 1 1/2 years before she announced her pro-life conversion. Filming wrapped up last June, about the time Miss McCorvey left the pro-life group Operation Rescue to start her own anti-abortion ministry. The group, called Roe No More, is not mentioned in the documentary. Says the producer, "I've been pretty involved in the subject since I read her book `I am Roe' " - Miss McCorvey's first book recounting her Supreme Court battle. She says she hasn't read the new autobiography, "but I'm sure it's a good one."

A press release for "Roe vs. Roe: Baptism by Fire," which airs Jan. 28 on Cinemax, says the cable movie is "the story of a woman in conflict with herself. Which Norma McCorvey will win out remains to be seen."

But in "Won by Love," Miss McCorvey suggests that she is actually at peace. "I now have a purpose in life that is bigger than myself," she writes. "Instead of fighting for death, I'm fighting for life."

The film opens with Miss McCorvey saying she's "a former lesbian, a former pro-abort, a former lot of things." The book explains that she and Miss Gonzales, her longtime friend with whom she once had a lesbian relationship, have been celibate since 1992.

The cable movie, which began filming in 1994, places significant and largely positive emphasis on the lesbian relationship. "People think that because two women are together that they're evil," Miss Gonzales tells the camera. "But I don't consider myself an evil person, and they'll never convince me that I'm evil."

By contrast, "Won by Love," co-authored by Gary Thomas, downplays the lesbian connection. "To be honest," Miss McCorvey writes, "I had grown weary of the homosexual lifestyle."

Nor, she writes in her book, does she think she was born lesbian. "It should be obvious to any straight-thinking person that most `lesbians' don't experience three problem pregnancies, as I had. But the truth is, I finally got so frustrated with men that I thought `At least with women, I can't get pregnant. …

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