An Interview with Norma McCorvey, The "Roe" of "Roe vs. Wade"and Sandra Cano, the "Doe" of "Doe vs. Bolton"
Ann Scheidler, Chicago Prolife Action League April 20, 1996
(Audio available from Prolife Action League, 312-777-2900)
Ann: Well, I don't know about you, but I think this is amazing. I would never have thought that I'd be sitting here with "Jane Roe" and "Mary Doe," the two people that in 1973 we thought were responsible for this disaster of abortion in our country. And we've gotten to know, by getting to know them, that they were used just as badly as the rest of us were used to make abortion legal in America. Before the Supreme Court's decisions actually came down and legalized abortion, the pro-abortion lobby had been working for a number of years to bring that about and break down America's attitudes toward abortion. Anybody who's read Bernard Nathanson's book or heard him speak has heard about the lies and the deceit and their and their specific intention to blame the churches, specifically the Catholic Church, for women who fact at all, claiming that 10,000 women were dying from illegal abortions. No records actually show any figures even remotely close to that. So we know that they were pushing really hard to break down America's values for life. And in the process, they needed to find some pregnant women that they could use to bring a case against various state laws and strike down those laws against abortion.
Ann: So I would like to ask both Norma and Sandra just exactly what their own situations were in 1972 when their unborn babies and themselves were used by the abortion lobby. And I'm going to begin with Norma, if you could just tell us briefly what your situation was, what led you to looking for some kind of solution to a problem in 1972?
Norma: Well, I was pregnant for the third time. I knew that I couldn't part with another child. I had previously gave one child up for adoption. I was put in touch with Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee. They were two young attorneys, as I was told, who were trying to change the Texas statute on abortion. I thought, in 1973, that when abortion was legalized, that it would just be simply for the state of Texas. I really didn't have any inkling that it would be for the nation.
Ann: Were you proud of the fact that they wanted to take your case to use it for a big legal case against abortion?
Norma: No. I was not proud of it. I remained basically anonymous for almost 17 years. I, in those 17 years, I tried to commit suicide a couple of times. I was very ashamed of what I had done, and I was looking for forgiveness not only from God but from myself.
Ann: And Sandra, how about you? What was your situation when you first went to the lawyers for help?
Sandra: Okay, first I never went to the lawyers to get an abortion. I went to the Atlanta Legal Aid to get a divorce. I was pregnant at this time. First, I never went to the attorneys to get an abortion. That was never my thought. I went to see about getting a divorce through the Atlanta Legal Aid. And the attorney at that time was T. Schwartz. She introduced me two weeks later to a lady who was Margie Pitts Haimes (Sandra: I'm not sure about her name) and this lady was going to help me. At that time I had two children in foster care. She was going to help me obtain a divorce and get my children from foster care. I was never aware of what I was involved in during this time.
Ann: So we had deceit on the part of the lawyers who were taking on these cases because they had a hidden agenda of their own. They were not actually interested in helping either of these women with the problem they were facing at the time. I think almost everybody knows that the initial story that you had been raped when they took your case was not true.
Norma: I told the attorneys that I had been raped in hopes that it would speed things up in the court system. However, the wheels of justice turn remotely very slow and a women can just stay pregnant for so long.
Ann: What kind of commitment did Sarah Weddington give you to make you trust that she was going to help you out, if any?
Norma: She had led me to believe was that all she had to do was like go downtown to Dallas and say to a judge, "One Miss Norma McCorvey wants to have an abortion," And he would say, "Okay, so be it," and then I would have the abortion. But it didn't work that way.
Ann: And in your case, Sandra, was it the commitment that they would get your children back for you and help you get a divorce?
Ann: And did they ask you to agree to have an abortion?
Sandra: No. There was one planned for me. I found out years later, when I had the records unsealed, that I had supposedly sued to have a panel of nine doctors and nurses at Grady Hospital in Atlanta give me an abortion. It was a suit which I was never knowledgeable of, and never went to court to pursue.
Ann: But you actually did not agree to that?
Sandra: No. There was one also, the obstetrician I was going to, Dr. Donald Block. He along with Margie Haimes, (I was not aware of this at the time), sued so that I was granted an abortion, and I was going to be forced to have an abortion up until the night I ran away.
Ann: So you were scheduled for an abortion the next day and what did you do?
Sandra: Well, it was several weeks later. I ran away to Oklahoma because my suitcase was packed and my mom was forcing me also to go along with this and I would not do it. So I never had an abortion.
Ann: So neither of these women had an abortion for the baby that they were pregnant, they were carrying at the time that went before the Supreme Court and the courts in their states of Texas and Georgia. Were you expecting a quick solution or had they let you know that this was going to be a slow process?
Norma: Actually, as I said earlier, I thought that they would just go downtown to some federal court and they would tell this judge to legalize abortion. So I was looking for a quick solution.