Recently, Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler sat down with Nursing Clio to talk about her new book, Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v. Wade to the Present. The book illustrates how the question of “abortion rights” is only one piece of the puzzle – rather both antiabortion and pro-choice advocates have spent decades in a tug-of-war over policy, funding issues, and larger questions about public health. As Ziegler carefully demonstrates, these battles actually deepened political polarization on abortion and have shaped the debate in increasingly intractable ways. Her interview with Nursing Clio editor Lauren MacIvor Thompson has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Lauren: Your book does such a wonderful job laying out the legal landscape of the complex history of abortion. What drove your narrative and organization of the book?
What Norma McCorvey Believed Matters
The original plaintiff behind Roe v. Wade is more than just a symbol in the abortion rights debate.
Mary Ziegler, The Atlantic
May 31, 2020
Last weekend, FX premiered AKA Jane Roe, a documentary on Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade. Backers of the film touted its most explosive revelation—that McCorvey, Jane Roe herself, had converted to the anti-abortion cause only because she was getting paid. This news made waves, and the attention it received has raised, in turn, a bigger question: Why does it matter at all what she really thought about abortion?
The constitutional-law expert Michael Dorf has argued that it doesn’t—or at least that clashing social movements have blown its significance way out of proportion. He contends that when it comes to the ultimate fate of abortion rights, McCorvey’s beliefs matter very little.
How the Anti-Abortion Movement Is Responding to Jane Roe’s “Deathbed Confession”
By Ruth Graham
May 22, 2020
The pro-life movement has always loved a conversion story. People who reject their former lives working for pro-choice causes are some of the most prominent voices in the movement, and the existence of abortion regret—a woman changing her mind after it’s too late—is a key legislative and rhetorical tactic. So when the real-life “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade announced two decades after that landmark Supreme Court case that she had realized abortion ought to be illegal after all, she became an instant star within the pro-life movement.
A bombshell documentary airing Friday night on FX adds a final shocking twist to Norma McCorvey’s ideologically eventful life. In AKA Jane Roe, McCorvey offers what she calls a “deathbed confession”: Actually, she was basically pro-choice all along and only became a pro-life activist for the money.
Roe v Wade plaintiff admits abortion rights reversal ‘was all an act’ in new film
Norma McCorvey, known as Jane Roe, reveals she was paid by evangelical Christian groups to take anti-abortion stance
Kenya Evelyn in Washington
Tue 19 May 2020
Norma McCorvey, most notable for being the plaintiff known as Jane Roe in the 1973 landmark supreme court case Roe v Wade that led to abortion becoming legal in the United States, made a stunning admission just before her death in 2017, it has emerged.
“This is my deathbed confession,” she explained.
Jane Roe’s Deathbed Confession: Anti-Abortion Conversion ‘All an Act’ Paid for by the Christian Right
The new FX documentary “AKA Jane Roe,” out May 22, contains a shocking revelation: Roe (of “Roe v. Wade” fame) played the part of an anti-abortion crusader in exchange for money.
Cassie da Costa, Entertainment Writer
Published May. 19, 2020
In its final 20 minutes, the documentary film AKA Jane Roe delivers quite the blow to conservatives who have weaponized the story of Jane Roe herself—real name, Norma McCorvey—to argue that people with uteruses should have to carry any and all pregnancies to term.
McCorvey, who died in 2017, became Jane Roe when, as a young homeless woman, she was unable to get a legal or safe abortion in the state of Texas. Her willingness to lend her experience to the legal case for abortion led to the passing of Roe v. Wade in 1973, which legalized abortions in all 50 states (though red states do all they can to get around this; recently, several have even used the COVID-19 pandemic to make abortions functionally impossible to procure). But conservatives had a field day in the mid-‘90s when the assertive, media-savvy pro-choice advocate and activist McCorvey became an anti-abortion born-again ex-gay Christian with the help of leaders of the evangelical Christian right, Reverend Flip Benham (of the infamous Operation Rescue) and Reverend Rob Schenck. A conservative film, Roe v. Wade, starring Jon Voight and Stacey Dash, will dramatize McCorvey’s “conversion.”
The woman behind ‘Roe vs. Wade’ didn’t change her mind on abortion. She was paid
By Meredith BlakeStaff Writer
May 19, 2020
When Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff in the landmark Roe vs. Wade case, came out against abortion in 1995, it stunned the world and represented a huge symbolic victory for abortion opponents: “Jane Roe” had gone to the other side. For the remainder of her life, McCorvey worked to overturn the law that bore her name.
But it was all a lie, McCorvey says in a documentary filmed in the months before her death in 2017, claiming she only did it because she was paid by antiabortion groups including Operation Rescue.
The 50-year fight by radical evangelicals that could end US abortion rights
Today the oral arguments begin in a landmark case that could destroy abortion rights in the US – the end result of a long campaign by evangelical Christians
Wed 4 Mar 2020
The American public paid for just four abortions over seven years in Kansas, all because the pregnancies resulted from rape or incest or threatened the life of the mother.
But that was four too many for some of the midwestern state’s leading Republicans who are blocking expansion of free medical coverage to about 130,000 low-income people on the grounds that some funds might pay for abortions.
The Long History of the Anti-Abortion Movement’s Links to White Supremacists
Racism and xenophobia have been woven into the anti-abortion movement for decades, despite the careful curation of its public image.
By Alex DiBranco
Feb 3, 2020
The anti-abortion movement in the United States has long been complicit with white supremacy. In recent decades, the movement mainstream has been careful to protect its public image by distancing itself from overt white nationalists in its ranks. Last year, anti-abortion leader Kristen Hatten was ousted from her position as vice president of the anti-choice group New Wave Feminists after identifying as an “ethnonationalist” and sharing white supremacist alt-right content. In 2018, when neo-Nazis from the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP) sought to join the local March for Life rally organized by Tennessee Right to Life, the anti-abortion organization rejected TWP’s involvement. (The organization’s statement, however, engaged in the same false equivalency between left and right that Trump used in the wake of fatal white supremacist violence at Charlottesville. “Our organization’s march has a single agenda to support the rights of mothers and the unborn, and we don’t agree with the violent agenda of white supremacists or Antifa,” the group wrote on its Facebook page.)
‘Our doors stay open’: Brookline’s abortion clinic shootings, 25 years later
By Abby Patkin
Posted Dec 30, 2019
In Brookline, a lot has changed since a gunman opened fire at two clinics 25 years ago. But there is still more to come.
He walked in and double-checked he was in the right place. Then John Salvi III pulled out his rifle and fired.
The Last Abortion Clinic in West Virginia
Nov 18, 2019
The Women’s Health Center in Charleston, West Virginia is an unassuming, single-story beige brick building in a shabby neighborhood, just steps from the train tracks and a crisis pregnancy center, a shuttered vape shop, and a row of small homes surrounded by chainlink fences. I visited the center, the last abortion clinic in the state, on a Wednesday in June, one of the two days each week that the clinic performs abortions. Christopher McComas, 52, stood by the entrance to the clinic’s parking lot, equipped with a cell phone that he trained at everyone who approached the clinic.
“Hey brother, can I talk to you for a second? Please, for a second? Do you think it’s going to be a boy or a girl? Does it have blue eyes, or maybe brown eyes?” McComas yelled at one couple, a tall photo of a blood-covered fetus propped up by his side. “God loves you, please don’t do this ma’am! I beg you not to do this! It could be a boy or a girl,” he continued to yell at the couple as they entered the clinic, shielded by a large umbrella held by a clinic escort. “It could have brown hair!”