Norma McCorvey – enshrined as plaintiff Jane Roe in “Roe v. Wade” – was married once, had a long-time partner, and had three living children. One of those is the baby who was part of the Roe v. Wade case.
McCorvey died on February 18 at the age of 69 of a heart ailment, according to The Washington Post.
At age 22, McCorvey was part of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade “that established a constitutional right to an abortion,” The Post said, adding that she was “mired in addiction and poverty” at that time.
According to The New York Daily News, McCorvey “became a born-again Christian who was active in the pro-life movement.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. McCorvey Gave Birth to Three Children, But Little Is Known About Two of Them
McCorvey is survived by her daughter, Melissa, according to The Post. She had two other children, but she gave them up for adoption and little is known of them.
One of those adopted children was the baby McCorvey was pregnant with when she desired an abortion. However, reported LifeNews, because of court delays, “McCorvey had already had the child by the time the Supreme Court issued its decision in January 1973. She had been adopted into a Texas home, perhaps somewhere in the Dallas area where McCorvey lived.” Little is known about the child’s identity.
According to the Dallas Morning News, McCorvey was in declining health and had recently moved in with her daughter, who lives in Houston, Texas.
2. McCorvey Was Married For Several Years to a Man Named Woody McCorvey
According to a lengthy profile of McCorvey in Vanity Fair, she married a man named Elwood “Woody” McCorvey, “a 21-year-old sheet-metal worker” in the 1960s before the court case.
She became pregnant with her daughter Melissa by him in 1965 but granted her mother legal custody after they divorced before the child was born, according to Vanity Fair. She later wrote that Woody “could be violent,” Vanity Fair reported.
3. McCorvey Came Out as a Lesbian & Had a Longtime Partner For Years
According to Vanity Fair, Connie Gonzalez lived for about 35 years with McCorvey, her “lesbian partner.”
However, the pair broke up, and Gonzalez was later critical of McCorvey, calling her a “phony” to Vanity Fair. The New York Times reported that, when McCorvey first told her mother she was a lesbian, the mother “kidnapped Melissa, banished Ms. McCorvey from the house and raised her granddaughter herself.”
4. It’s Not Known Whether McCorvey’s Child Knew She Was Part of Roe v. Wade
According to Life News, it’s unclear where the baby – now an adult woman in middle age – is today.
However, McCorvey later became opposed to abortion, giving quotes like the above.
“It is unknown to me whether the adoptive family ever even knew that their daughter was the supposedly unwanted child who was the subject of Roe,” LifeNews reported. “As far as we know, they raised her not knowing who she was and certainly never telling her.”
5. McCorvey Was Raised in a Troubled Family
A New York Times profile on McCorvey discussed her dysfunctional family upbringing.
“Her grandmother was a prostitute and fortuneteller. Her father was a television repairman, her mother an alcoholic. Part Cajun, part Cherokee Indian, and raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, Norma Leah Nelson was 10 when she took money from the gas station where she worked to run away from home,” The Times reported, saying that Norma was also sexually assaulted as a teenager.