Culture

Deceptive Editing? Norma McCorvey From Roe v. Wade Didn't Reject the Pro-Life Cause, Former Lawyer Says

FILE - In this Jan. 8, 1998 file photo, Norma McCorvey poses in Dallas . McCorvey, whose legal challenge under the pseudonym "Jane Roe" led to the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion but who later became an outspoken opponent of the procedure, died Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. She was 69. McCorvey died at an assisted living center in Katy, Texas, said journalist Joshua Prager, who is working on a book about McCorvey and was with her and her family when she died. He said she died of heart failure. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

An upcoming documentary reportedly makes an earthshattering claim about Norma McCorvey, the “Roe” in Roe v. Wade (1973), who later regretted her role in making abortion legal and became a defender of the unborn. According to the new FX documentary AKA Jane Roe, McCorvey admitted she was paid off by the pro-life movement. Yet Allan Parker, founder and president of The Justice Foundation, represented McCorvey from 2000 to 2005 and maintained a friendly correspondence with her afterward. He argued against the film’s central claim, suggesting the filmmakers snookered McCorvey and deceptively edited her words.

“I was in contact with Norma while she was ill,” Parker told PJ Media on Wednesday. “She thanked me for doing all we could do to reverse Roe v. Wade. She did tell me that she was doing a documentary with some British producers and that they were paying her. My recollection is she told me they were pro-life and they were doing a documentary about her life and she was being compensated for it. Because I was not formally representing her at the time, I did not investigate further—it was just a friendly conversation.”

McCorvey died of heart failure in Katy, Texas in 2017. AKA Jane Roe, which premiers Friday on FX and Saturday on Hulu, was filmed during the last year of her life. According to NBC News, the film frames her as a mercenary who wanted to come clean in a “death bed confession.”

“I was the big fish,” McCorvey says in the documentary. “I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money, and they put me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say, and that’s what I’d say.”

Two religious leaders who worked with McCorvey reportedly bolstered the claim that her pro-life activism was a sham. The film claims she was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Operation Rescue, now known as Operation Save America.

“What we did with Norma was highly unethical. The jig is up,” Rev. Rob Schenck says in the film, confessing that he and others paid McCorvey to pose as a pro-life activist. “I knew what we were doing, and 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.'”

It appears Schenck’s decision to “come clean” may be suspect, however. Last year, he took to The New York Times to support Roe v. Wade, arguing that passing restrictions on abortion is “destructive of life.” He serves as president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, a nonprofit that advocates against the Second Amendment. From this position, Schenck has argued that Trump led to the “moral collapse of American evangelicalism,” focusing on the left-wing talking point that the president is “separating children from their parents” at the border.

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Countering the AKA Jane Roe claim, McCorvey’s lawyer Allan Parker put out a statement claiming the documentary cannot be trusted.

“In view of my many conversations with Norma and considering the sworn testimony she provided to the Supreme Court, I believe the producers of the newly-released FX documentary ‘AKA Jane Roe’ paid Norma, befriended her and then betrayed her. This documentary cannot be trusted and the perception it attempts to create around my friend and former client, Norma, is patently false,” he argued.

McCorvey changed her mind on abortion after working in the abortion industry. “The abortion business is an inherently dehumanizing one,” she testified in 2003. “A person has to let her heart and soul die or go numb to stay in practice. The clinic workers suffer, the women suffer, and the babies die. I can assure this Court that the interest of these mothers is not a concern of abortion providers.”

“Once she became pro-life, Norma fought to the end of her life with all the power and effort she could muster to reverse Roe v. Wade, including asking the Supreme Court to hear her case again,” Parker’s statement explained.

The lawyer argued that AKA Jane Roe may have deceptively edited McCorvey’s interviews.

“I think they have hours and hours of testimony from her and it would be very easy to do deceptive editing. Our lawyers are going to be asking for all of the footage,” Parker told PJ Media.

“Also, I wonder why these producers may have waited until after Norma was dead to release their work. Was this so she could not refute their deceptive claims?” he asked.

Flip Benham, the former director of Operation Save America who is quoted in the NBC News story, also insisted the documentary is false.

“We never paid Miss Norma a penny. We certainly helped Miss Norma and Miss Connie Gonzales (her lesbian partner at the time) to get back on their feet after Jasbur Ahluwalia, the owner and abortionist at ‘A Choice for Women,’ fired them. They had no source of income. Many in our group would donate to help them get along. But we did this for all the abortion mill employees who quit their jobs and trusted Jesus. We would help them find work, find church homes, take care of their kids, whatever we could do for them we did,” Benham said.

“And now she no longer can come back and set the record straight. This is simply how the media works these days – manipulate as many facts and soundbites as possible to tell a lie. Even worse, to manipulate the emotions of a sickly, dying woman to push your narrative,” he added. “My boys spoke with Miss Norma before her death…and they were just as shocked as me to see this new story. David simply said, ‘Dad, isn’t it convenient to release this when she’s dead, because I know Norma well enough that she’d come right back and demand these people set the record straight.'”

Former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson, now a pro-life activist, recalled speaking to McCorvey days before her death.

“I spoke to Norma McCorvey days before her death. It was the only time we had ever spoken. An unexpected call and a number I didn’t recognize, I almost didn’t answer. I am so thankful that I did. There was no long introduction. No formalities. She told me that she called because she needed to talk to someone else who had a ‘big number’ and would understand what she needed to ask me,” Johnson wrote.

Johnson’s “big number” refers to the twenty-two thousand abortions in which she was implicated. Yet every single abortion in the U.S. since 1973 was part of McCorvey’s “big number.” “She felt like she owned them all,” Johnson said. “Every abortion that had been committed under the law that bore her name… ‘Jane Roe’…they were ‘hers.'”

A woman who feels that burden at the end of her life was certainly not a mercenary for the pro-life movement.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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