The Truth about Roe v. Wade (according to "Jane Roe," Norma McCorvey)

Affidavit of Norma McCorvey, The “Roe” of Roe v. Wade


8122 Datapoint, Suite 812
San Antonio, Texas 78229
(210) 614-7157
Attorney for Amicus Curiae
Norma McCorvey


Anne O’Conner, Esq.
509 Stillwell Corner Rd.
Freehold, NJ 07728
(732) 303-0440
Local Counsel for Norma McCorvey










Civil Action No. 99-2692 (GEB)



Affidavit of Norma McCorvey
Motion for Leave to File an Amicus Curiae





Norma McCorvey, being of full age deposes and says:

1. “My name is Norma McCorvey, and I reside in Dallas, Texas. I was the woman designated as “Jane Roe” as plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that it was unconstitutional for my state to prohibit doctors from performing abortions.

2. Because of my role in Roe v. Wade, how that decision came about, and my experiences working at abortion clinics, I can provide the Court with information and a perspective unavailable from other sources. I have a compelling interest in this litigation. My case was wrongfully decided and has caused great harm to the women and children of our nation. I have an interest in stopping that harm and I have an interest in disclosing the facts which expose the weakness of the underlying assumptions which led to that incorrect decision.

3. Virtually the entire basis for Roe v. Wade was built upon false assumptions. No meaningful trial to determine the real facts was ever held. The misrepresentations and deceptions that plagued Roe v. Wade are presented to this Court to show why there is a dire necessity for a trial to ensure that the true facts regarding the nature of abortion and the interests of women are heard. These facts, which were neither disclosed to me in 1970 nor to the plaintiffs of this case before they had an abortion, are critical for understanding the issues involved. They point out the deficiencies not only of the procedure in Roe v. Wade, but in the Court’s decision which was rendered in a vacuum devoid of findings of facts. Consequently, we obtained a decision in Roe v. Wade based upon what abortion advocates wanted women to be able to do, not what women were truly capable of. In this case, witnesses and accurate, current, relevant scientific evidence are available to this Court, on all relevant fact issues. In 1973, in Roe, that evidence was neither offered nor available. We now have the benefit of twenty-seven years of experimentation. Such absence of evidence led to both a factually and legally unsound decision.

4. While the experience of being Jane Roe over the past twenty-seven years has been very difficult, my life has been filled with hardship from the beginning. Although I was an emotionally abused child, and a sexually abused teenager, I believe the worst abuse was inflicted by the judicial system. In retrospect, I was exploited by two self-interested attorneys. Worse, the courts, without looking into my true circumstances and taking the time to decide the real impact abortion would have upon women, I feel used me to justify legalization of terminating the lives over thirty-five million babies. Although on an intellectual level I know I was exploited, the responsibility I feel for this tragedy is overwhelming. Because the courts allowed my case to proceed without my testimony, without ever explaining to me the reality of abortion, without being cross-examined on my erroneous perception of what of abortion really is, a tragic mistake was made by the courts, a mistake that this Court has the opportunity to remedy.

5. Prior to my pregnancy with the “Roe” baby, I gave birth to two other children. My first, a daughter, was adopted by my mother. It is difficult to part with my child, yet I have always been comforted by the fact that my daughter is alive and cared for. My second daughter was raised by her father, a young intern at Baylor Methodist Medical School. He was kind enough to want to get married and make a home, but I wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment. Later, when I became pregnant with the “Roe” baby, I was really in a predicament. My mother expressed her disapproval of my having given birth out of wedlock. She told me how irresponsible I had been. My mother made it clear that she was not going to take care of another baby.

6. Certain that I was pregnant, I waited for a while before I went to the doctor. While I was waiting to be examined, I questioned the ladies there about whether they knew where a woman could go to have an abortion. A lady told me where an illegal clinic was located and told me that it would cost $250.00. Following our discussion, I told the doctor that I wanted to have an abortion, but he refused stating that abortion was illegal. He didn’t believe in abortion and gave me the phone number of an adoption attorney.

7. When I had saved about two hundred dollars, I took a cross-town bus to the illegal clinic, which turned out to be a dentist’s office that had been closed down the previous week. For some reason, I felt relieved yet angry at the same time. All my emotions were peaking; first, I was angry, then I was happy, and then I’d cry. From the abortion clinic, I took the bus to my dad’s apartment and decided to speak with the adoption attorney. The adoption attorney set up the meeting and referred me to Sarah Weddington, the attorney who represented me in Roe v. Wade.

8. Although Weddington and I were about the same age, our lives were quite different. She was a young attorney, and I was homeless and lived in a park. Unconcerned about politics, I sold flowers and an underground newspaper describing the types and availability of illegal narcotics. I am not proud of my jobs. At the time I sought simply to survive.

9. Following the adoption attorney’s introduction, Weddington invited me out to dinner. I agreed. At our initial meeting, I met with Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, her friend. Both Weddington and Coffee had recently finished law school and they wanted to bring a class action suits against the State of Texas to legalize abortion, not nationally. We discussed the case over a few pitchers of beer and pizza at a small restaurant in Dallas.

Weddington, Coffee, and I were drinking beer and trying to come up with a pseudonym for me. I had heard that whenever women were having illegal abortions, they wouldn’t carry any identification with them. An unidentifiable woman was often referred to as Jane Doe. So we were trying to come up with something that would rhyme with “Doe”. After three or four pitchers of beer, we started with the letter “a” and eventually we reached “r” and agreed on “Roe”. Then I asked “What about Jane for the first name?” Janie used to be my imaginary friend as a child. I told them about her and how she always wanted to do good things for people, and it was decided -- I became Jane Roe, by the stroke of a pen.

10. The young lawyers told me that they had spoken with two or three other women about being in the case, but they didn’t fit their criteria. Although I did know what “criteria” meant, I asked them if I had what it is that it took to be in their suit. They said yes, “You’re white. You’re young, pregnant, and you want an abortion.” At that time, I didn’t know their full intent. Only that they wanted to make abortion legal and they thought I’d be a good plaintiff. I came for the food, and they led me to believe that they could help me get an abortion.

11. During our meeting, they questioned me, “Norma don’t you think that abortion should be legal?” Unsure, I responded that I did not know. In fact, I did not know what the term “abortion” really meant. Back in 1970, no one discussed abortion. It was taboo, and so too was the subject of abortion. The only thing I knew about the word was in the context of war movies. I had heard the word “abort” when John Wayne was flying his plane and ordered the others to “Abort the mission.” I knew “abort” meant that they were “going back”. “Abortion”, to me, meant “going back” to the condition of not being pregnant. I never looked the word up in the dictionary until after I had already signed the affidavit. I was very naive. For their part, my lawyers lied to me about the nature of abortion. Weddington convinced me that “It’s just a piece of tissue. You just missed your period.” I didn’t know during the Roe v. Wade case that the life of a human being was terminated.

12. After our meeting, I went to my father’s apartment and began to drink alcohol heavily. I was depressed with my plight in life. I tried to drown my troubles in alcohol. Shortly thereafter I even attempted suicide by slitting my wrists. When my father questioned me about what was troubling me, I responded that I was pregnant again. When he asked me what I was going to do, I responded that I was thinking about having an abortion. He inquired, “What is that?” I said, “I don’t know. I haven’t looked it up yet.”

13. Shortly thereafter, Weddington and Coffee presented the affidavit for my signature at Coffee’s office. I told them that I trusted them and that I did not need to read the affidavit before I signed it. I never read the affidavit before signing it and do not, to this very day, know what is written in the affidavit. Both Weddington and Coffee were aware that I did not read the affidavit before I signed it. At no time did they tell me that I had to read it before they accepted my signature. I told them that I trusted them. We called ourselves “the three musketeers.” I know now that is one place where I went wrong. I should have sat down and I should have read the affidavit. I may not have understood everything in the affidavit and I would have probably signed it anyway. I trusted the lawyers.

14. My lawyers never discussed what an abortion is, other than to make the misrepresentation that “it’s only tissue”. I never understood that the child was already in existence. I never understood that the child was a complete separate human being. I was under the false impression that abortion somehow reversed the process and prevented the child from coming into existence. In the two to three years during the case no one, including my lawyers told me that an abortion is actually terminating the life of an actual human being. The courts never took any testimony about this and I heard nothing which shed light on what abortion really was.

15. In 1972, Sarah Weddington argued in the courts, presumptuously on my behalf, that women should be allowed to obtain a legal abortion. The courts did not ask whether I knew what I was asking for. The abortion decision that destroyed every state law protecting the rights of women and their unborn babies was based on a fundamental misrepresentation. I had never read the affidavit and I did not know what an abortion was. Weddington and the other supporters of abortion used me and my circumstance to urge the courts to legalize abortion without any meaningful trial which addressed the humanity of the baby, and what abortion would do to women. At that time, I was a street person. I lived, worked, and panhandled out on the streets. My totally powerless circumstance made it easy for them to use me. My presence was a necessary evil. My real interests were not their concern.

16. As the class action plaintiff in the most controversial U.S. Supreme Court case of the twentieth century, I only met with the attorneys twice. Once over pizza and beer, when I was told that my baby was only “tissue”. The other time at Coffee’s office to sign the affidavit. No other personal contacts. I was never invited into court. I never testified. I was never present before any court on any level, and I was never at any hearing on my case. The entire case was an abstraction. The facts about abortion were never heard. Totally excluded from every aspect and every issue of the case, I found out about the decision from the newspaper just like the rest of the country. In a way my exclusion, and the exclusion of real meaningful findings of fact in Roe v. Wade, is symbolic of the way the women of the nation and their experiences with abortion have been ignored in a national debate by the abortion industry. It is what the abortion industry thinks is good for women which is presented. Not the reality of their experiences.

17. Later in life I was confronted with the reality of Roe v. Wade. My personal Involvement in Roe v. Wade was not my only experience with abortion. Unskilled and uneducated, with alcohol and drug problems, finding and holding a job was always a problem for me. But with my notoriety, abortion facilities, usually paying a dollar an hour more than minimum wage, were always willing to add Jane Roe to their ranks. My medical training as a respiratory therapist at Baylor University was my only medical training, but I always could work at an abortion facility. Always in control, I could either make the women stay or help her leave. My duties were similar to those of a LVN or an RN, such as taking patients’ blood pressure and pulse and administering oxygen, although I never took any statistics or temperatures. Basically, I would stand inside the procedure room, hold the women’s hands, and say things to distract them by saying, “What is the most exciting, or happiest period of your life?” Meanwhile, the abortionist was performing what is represented as a “painless” procedure and the women were digging their nails into me in an effort to endure the pain.

18. I worked in several abortion facilities over the years. In fact, I even worked at two clinics at the same time, and they were all the same with respect to the condition of the facilities and the “counseling” the women receive.One clinic where I worked in 1995 was typical: Light fixtures and plaster falling from the ceiling; rat droppings over the sinks; backed up sinks; and blood splattered on the walls. But the most distressing room in the facility was the “parts room”. Aborted babies were stored here. There were dead babies and baby parts stacked like cordwood. Some of the babies made it into buckets and others did not, and because of its disgusting features, no one ever cleaned the room. The stench was horrible. Plastic bags full of baby parts that were swimming in blood were tied up, stored in the room and picked up once a week. At another clinic, the dead babies were kept in a big white freezer full of dozens of jars, all full of baby parts, little tiny hands and feet visible through the jars, frozen in blood. The abortion clinic’s personnel always referred to these dismembered babies as “tissue.” Veterinary clinics I have seen are cleaner and more regulated than the abortion clinics I worked in.

19. While all the facilities were much the same, the abortion doctors in the various clinics where I worked were very representative of abortionists in general. The abortionists I knew were usually of foreign descent with the perception that the lax abortion laws in the United States present a fertile money-making opportunity. One abortionist, in particular, would sometimes operate bare-chested, and sometimes shoe less with his shirt off, and earned a six-figure income. He did not have to worry about his bedside manner, learning to speak English, or building a clientele.

20. While the manners of the abortionists and the uncleanliness of the facilities greatly shocked me, the lack of counseling provided the women was perhaps the greatest tragedy. Early in my abortion career, it became evident that the “counselors” and the abortionists were there for only one reason - to sell abortions. The extent of the abortionists’ counseling was, “Do you want an abortion? Ok, you sign here and we give you abortion.” [sic]. Then he would direct me, “You go get me another one.” There was nothing more. There was never an explanation of the procedure. No one even explained to the mother that the child already existed and the life of a human was being terminated. No one ever explained that there were options to abortion, that financial help was available, or that the child was a unique and irreplaceable. No one ever explained that there were psychological and physical risks of harm to the mother. There was never time for the mother to reflect or to consult with anyone who could offer her help or an alternative. There was no informed consent. In my opinion, the only thing the abortion doctors and clinics cared about was making money. No abortion clinic cared about the women involved. As far as I could tell, every woman had the name of Jane Roe.

21. Typically, most of the women would cry as soon as the suction machine was shut off, or, at some point. Sometimes I thought that they realized what had been done to their babies. Once, I heard a woman call her mother and say, “I just killed my baby. I’m so glad you never killed me!”

22. The doctors always hid the truth from the mothers. I would say about eighty-percent of the women would try to look down during the abortion and try to see what was happening. This is the reason the doctors would start with the scalpel: to make sure there was just blood and torn up “tissue” for the women to see. Specifically, I remember one woman who came in for an abortion, a pretty, sweet young woman about eighteen years old, with a teddy bear. During the procedure she looked down and saw the baby’s hand fall into the doctor’s hand. She gasped and passed out. When she awoke and asked about what she saw, I lied to her and told her it didn’t happen. But she insisted that she had seen part of her baby. A few weeks later, when she returned for her follow-up exam, she was a changed person: her sweetness had died and had been replaced with an indescribable hardness. I could not look her in the eye. It took quite a few beers that night to make that particular day go away.

23. In all of the clinics I worked in the employees were forbidden to say anything that could talk the mother out of an abortion. The experience of abortion began to take its toll on me. While the abortionists’ counseling was non- existent, my counseling technique gradually became different depending on my mood and the stage of my career. In later years, I would sometimes take all the instruments that were used in an abortion procedure and purposely leave a little of the blood on some the instruments. Laying the instruments out on the little table in front of the woman, I would tell her that, “This is the first instrument that is going to be inserted into your vaginal area.” It would have just had a little smudge of blood, and I thought it was very dramatic. In retrospect, I don’t even know why I was doing these things. It was as if I was trying to talk these women out of the abortion-- something we were forbidden to do. In other counseling sessions, I would demonstrate the position and warn her that the instruments were sharp, and that if she moved the doctor might slip, and puncture her uterus, and she would bleed to death. In other situations, when a woman asked me how much it cost, I asked her in response how much she wanted to pay to kill her baby. She replied, “They told me it wasn’t a baby.” I responded, “What do you think it is inside you, a fish?” Other times I would comfort them after the abortion by saying, “It wasn’t a baby. It was only a missed period.” Sometimes when I managed to make the women unsure, I would offer to refund their money except for the ultrasound.

24. I obviously advocated legalized abortion for many years following Roe v. Wade. But working in the abortion clinics forced me to accept what abortion is. It is a violent act which kills human beings and destroys the peace and the real interests of the mothers involved. This court must do what was not done in Roe v. Wade. It must have a trial and make findings of fact based upon real evidence. Abortion must be publicly defined. The humanity of the child must be determined. The exploitation of the women must be looked at. The health risks must be examined. The abusive practices of the abortion industry must be waived and the mothers’ real interests must be considered.

25. After I saw all the deception going on in the abortion facilities, and after all the things that my supervisors told me to tell the women, I became very angry. I saw women being lied to, openly, and I was part of it. There’s no telling how many children I helped kill while their mothers dug their nails into me and listened to my warning, “Whatever you do, don’t move!” I can assure the court that the interest of these mothers is not a concern of abortion providers.

26. Because I was drunk or stoned much of the time, I was able to continue this work for a long time, probably much longer than most clinic workers. It is a high turnover job, because of the true nature of the business. The abortion business is an inherently dehumanizing one. 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.

27. I respectfully request that this court allow me to act as a friend of the court as this court decides the question presented, including the question of whether it is a violation of the mother’s rights if they can’t sue the doctors who performed involuntary or uniformed abortions.

Norma McCorvey 
A.k.a. Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade Sworn to and subscribed before me this the 15 day of March, 2000.