Monday, March 7, 2011

The A Word

People either love fighting about it or refuse to speak of it under any circumstances. It's a topic of political debate year after year and for many, decidedly sways their vote for President of the United States. It tears families apart, leaves many women with gaping emotional (and sometimes physical) wounds for years to come, and for Christian women, can forever alter their relationship with Christ from the weight of their guilt and shame.
I'm talking about the A word, abortion.

I'm not writing this to argue about pro-life or pro-choice, I actually chose to write this post because I found the story of a pro-life advocate to be incredibly moving and interesting. This is mostly because she was the original abortion poster child "Jane Roe" (her real name is Norma McCorvey).

Norma was born in Lousiana in 1947 and raised in Houston as a Jehovah's Witness. Her father left the family before she could even remember him being there and was raised by her single mother, Mildred, who was a raging alcoholic.  Norma dropped out of school at 14 and subsequently married Woody McCorvey two years later at 16, who also turned out to be an abuser. Norma left Woody in the midst of her first pregnancy and gave birth to a daughter, Melissa in 1965 at age 18. The following year, Norma became pregnant again and gave that baby up for adoption. She tried to move in with her mother, but when conversations about Norma being attracted to women began to infiltrate the home, Mildred disowned her and took custody of baby Melissa.

At the tender age of 21, Norma became pregnant for the third time and returned to Dallas, where friends advised her to falsely claim rape in order to get a legal abortion (at the present time, 1969, abortions were only legal in the case of rape or incest); but this plot fell through when the police discovered no charges had been claimed and questioned Norma until she caved with the truth. At this point Norma tried to obtain an illegal abortion but the center she went to had been closed by police.  As her last hope, Norma was referred to some female attorneys who took her case all the way to the supreme court. Roe v. Wade gained publicity and controversy in the three years it took to reach the supreme court,  and in this time Norma (who had presented herself to the attorneys as "Jane Roe") gave birth to the baby who was eventually adopted. Within days of the case being ruled in her favor (making abortion legal up to 24 weeks, the week when a pregnancy is considered "viable" because the baby could survive outside the womb), Norma revealed her true identity to the press.

From here, Norma's story only gets more sad and more complicated. In the 1980's Norma confessed that she had, "been the "pawn" of two young and ambitious lawyers who were looking for a plaintiff with whom they could challenge the Texas state law prohibiting abortion." In 1994 she published her autobiography, I Am Roe, where she talked about the case as well as her long time confusion about her sexuality and her partner, Connie. Just one year later in 1995, Norma was befriended by a minister who shared the gospel with her and she became a Christian. On August 8, 1995, Norma McCorvey was baptized in a backyard swimming pool in Dallas, and two days later she announced that she had become an advocate of Operation Rescue's Campaign to make abortion illegal.
Three years after her conversion to Christianity, she published her second book in 1998 titled, Won by Love, where she described the moment she realized that her stance on abortion was wrong,
"I was sitting in O.R.'s offices when I noticed a fetal development poster. The progression was so obvious, the eyes were so sweet. It hurt my heart, just looking at them. I ran outside and finally, it dawned on me. 'Norma', I said to myself, 'They're right'. I had worked with pregnant women for years. I had been through three pregnancies and deliveries myself. I should have known. Yet something in that poster made me lose my breath. I kept seeing the picture of that tiny, 10-week-old embryo, and I said to myself, that's a baby! It's as if blinders just fell off my eyes and I suddenly understood the truth — that's a baby!

I felt crushed under the truth of this realization. I had to face up to the awful reality. Abortion wasn't about 'products of conception'. It wasn't about 'missed periods'. It was about children being killed in their mother's wombs. All those years I was wrong. Signing that affidavit, I was wrong. Working in an abortion clinic, I was wrong. No more of this first trimester, second trimester, third trimester stuff. Abortion — at any point — was wrong. It was so clear. Painfully clear.

Currently, Norma is still active in pro-life demonstrations and supports political candidates who have the same goal that she does; to overturn Roe v. Wade, the bill that will famously be associated with one young woman battling for the right to chose her life over the life of a child. The U.S. gave Norma a voice and national platform when she was arguing the side of the secular world, yet no one is listening now. It's obvious to me that anyone can be a "wise and knowledgeable source" when they are fighting for the world's brand of selfish lifestyle. My question is, how can you turn to that same source and now claim that she is ignorant and clueless? Her life and experience are the same, the only difference is she finally believed still, small voice when it whispered, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139

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