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Norma McCorvey, the Left’s tragic mascot

Social justice warriors threw "Jane Roe" away after she outlived her usefulness to the abortion movement

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When Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in the infamous 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, died Feb. 18, this part of her obituary in the Washington Post stood out:

Years later, Ms. McCorvey expressed bitterness at what she described as her attorneys’ unwillingness to help her find what she needed — an abortion, even an illegal one.

“Sarah sat right across the table from me at Columbo’s pizza parlor, and I didn’t know until two years ago that she had had an abortion herself,” Ms. McCorvey told the New York Times in 1994. “When I told her then how desperately I needed one, she could have told me where to go for it. But she wouldn’t because she needed me to be pregnant for her case.”

“Sarah [Weddington] saw these cuts on my wrists, my swollen eyes from crying,” she continued, “the miserable person sitting across from her, and she knew she had a patsy. She knew I wouldn’t go outside of the realm of her and Linda [Coffee]. I was too scared. It was one of the most hideous times of my life.”

And why would social justice warrior-lawyers Weddington and Coffee help McCorvey? Leftists like Weddington and Coffee have a whole world to change! Getting bogged down in the details of one individual human being just gets in the way.

Economist Thomas Sowell once wrote that, “For people on the Left … blacks are trophies or mascots, and must therefore be put on display. Nowhere is that more true than in politics. The problem with being a mascot is that you are a symbol of someone else’s significance or virtue. The actual well-being of a mascot is not the point.”

As Sowell noted in another column, “The actual fate of the mascots themselves seldom matters much to their supposed benefactors.”

Substitute “poor women” for “blacks,” and it is very easy to apply that to McCorvey.

That McCorvey was a mascot is evidenced by how much her attorneys were concerned about her after they filed the case. Given how long pregnancies last, the lawsuit dragged on much too long for McCorvey to have an abortion. Indeed, by the time the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, McCorvey had given up her then two-year-old child for adoption. According to the Post, McCorvey “learned of the ruling in a newspaper article.” Perhaps Weddington and Coffee were too overwhelmed giving press interviews to pick up a phone?

It wasn’t just McCorvey’s attorneys who cared little about her welfare. By the 1980s, McCorvey was working in the “pro-choice” movement, but, according to the New Republic:

[S]he felt that the leadership of the pro-choice movement kept her at arm’s length. The women’s movement was by then an established, PR-conscious network of mainstream organizations that aimed for mass appeal, and they were aware that McCorvey was not an ideal representative. She began to feel at odds with mainstream feminism, rejected for her lesbianism, her class status, her initial lie about being raped, and her past flirtations with drug dealing and occult religions….

“Women used to come up to me all the time and say, ‘Oh Norma, I want to thank you, if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have finished college,’ or, ‘If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t have done this,’” she said in a 1995 interview with ABC News. “And I used to look at them and I envied them, because they got to choose, they had the right to choose. And I never had the right to choose.” She never managed to climb out of poverty, either, although the attention brought by the decision garnered her two book deals and many interviews and speaking engagements. She began to feel increasingly embittered towards a feminist movement whose leaders were dramatically wealthier, better educated, and divorced from the cultural milieu of the working-class South. She found herself with less and less in common with those who most loudly claimed her cause.

It would be unfair to blame those involved in the pro-choice movement for the fact that McCorvey never got out of poverty. The responsibility probably lies mostly with McCorvey. On the other hand, given the considerable sacrifice she made for the pro-choice movement, it would have been nice if some of those in that movement had gone out of their way to try to ensure McCorvey’s well-being. It appears that few, if any, ever did.

McCorvey seemed to realized that she was little more than a mascot for those who were supposedly fighting for her rights. Unfortunately, she realized it too late.

(Editor’s note: James Simpson wrote about McCorvey on Feb. 20 at Bombthrowers.)