Norma McCorvey, the woman known as Jane Roe in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, took her last breath here on this earth February 18, 2017.
Although it was Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in America, McCorvey never actually had an abortion. She was unable to secure an abortion because the case extended years beyond her pregnancy. Instead, she set up an adoption plan for her child. For a time, she was angry over the way she had been used by the pro-abortion attorneys with no perceived benefits for herself. And she maintained her position concerning abortion rights for more than two decades.
But in 1995, everything changed when McCorvey surrendered her life to Christ. For the last half of her adult life, she fought relentlessly to protect the unborn and wanted more than anything to see Roe v. Wade overturned.
Her story of betrayal, loss, confusion, pain, and anger is told in her first book I Am Roe. She later wrote Won by Love, the inside story about her conversion to new life in Christ and her deep sense of regret for her involvement with the case that led to widespread legalized abortion.
Most people know that McCorvey became a passionate pro-life advocate, but few know about the seven-year-old little girl who played a key role in her conversion.
In the 1990s, McCorvey worked at an abortion clinic in Dallas, Texas, scheduling appointments. As an added responsibility, she would sometimes accompany and comfort the women during their abortions.
Operation Rescue purchased the building next door to the abortion clinic where she worked. McCorvey was not exactly fond of staff and volunteers who frequented the pro-life organization, and she despised those who attempted to talk the women out of entering the abortion clinic.
The director of Operation Rescue at the time was the Rev. Flip Benham, father of the Benham Brothers, the well-known house-flipping twins who would be fired by HGTV decades later for their biblical beliefs. Office manager Ronda Mackey assisted Rev. Benham; she would often bring her two daughters with her to work.
The mother and daughters prayed often for McCorvey. And although Ronda doubted her heart would ever be softened, the girls continued to pray and believe. Just seven years old when she met “Miss Norma,” Emily would often run down the sidewalk to greet her with a hug. She didn’t see the infamous Jane Roe like so many others did. She just saw someone who needed Jesus.
Little Emily would even sit with McCorvey in the reception area of the clinic at times. One of those times, she heard McCorvey get upset with a caller and end the call by saying, “I’ll see you in hell.” Emily quickly responded, “If you repent and ask for forgiveness, you don’t have to go there, Miss Norma.”
Emily continued to lavish McCorvey with hugs, smiles, and invitations to attend church with her. After having given up three children for adoption and dealing with the realities of working in an abortion clinic, McCorvey was disarmed by Emily’s affections. The idea of bonding with a young child created anxiety within her. "It was part of my denial," she explained. "When you know what is happening to the children behind closed doors, it’s difficult to become attached to them outside."
At one point, McCorvey told Emily, "I like kids and wouldn’t let anyone hurt little kids." Emily’s responded by asking, "Then why do you let them kill the babies at the clinic?"
Emily’s undeniable love and honesty deeply affected McCorvey. Emily became the person she would think of every time an innocent child was aborted, especially after Emily’s mother confessed to her that she had considered aborting Emily.
Meanwhile, Emily never stopped inviting McCorvey to church. Finally after months of Emily’s urging, in July of 1995, McCorvey succumbed and accepted her invitation.
The disreputable woman known as Jane Roe went to church with the Mackeys. And that very day, she gave her life to Christ. “Now, after I had been forgiven, Jane Roe was irrelevant,” she said in Won by Love. “The woman [God] loved – the woman He saved – was Norma Lea McCorvey.”
As she read Scripture and grew closer to Christ, she began to seek forgiveness from those she had wronged in her past. “It was so hard for me to conceive that the Lord had forgiven me – especially after so many children had been killed,” she explained in her book.
But He did forgive her, and He used a precious child to soften McCorvey’s hardened heart and ready her for the loving relationship He had in store for her. If she could be loved by an innocent child, maybe … just maybe she could be loved by God.
Little Emily didn’t take a class to learn how to witness to Norma McCorvey, the notoriously angry abortion-loving woman who was responsible for the deaths of millions of babies.
She simply loved her.
“I wanted Miss Norma to become a Christian so she wouldn’t go to hell,” Emily said.
“It made me really happy that she knows Jesus.”