Wednesday, March 15, 2017
A life of regret. . .
No life has been lived more publicly and with more public regret that Norma McCorvey -- although you know here by the name Jane Roe as of Roe v. Wade. Her story was messy and complicated and filled with more than her share of regrets. She became part of the American moral debate over life, a woman and her control over her body, and abortion. Her case before the Supreme Court settled law but not the great divide that has continued through every succeeding year since her cause began the move to legalize abortion and create a legal precedence for privacy. What remained more hidden was the deep sorrow, soul searching change of heart, regret and very public shame that accompanied this woman -- now to her death.
In her own words, she told some of the story. . .
The full story can be read elsewhere (the false charge of rape that began the cause to legalize abortion, the part of her life in which she actually worked in abortion clinics, her time as lesbian, her conversion and public baptism, and her later entrance into the Roman Catholic Church. It is a story, to be sure. Some accused religion of hijacking the poster child for legal abortion. She insisted that her contact with the mothers and children of families involved in the anti-abortion protests had at least equal weight in her change of heart. She wrote two chapters of her story, one in 1994 and then of her change of mind in 1997 ("Won by Love").
Regrets would consume us without forgiveness. At the end of such a tortured and public life, it is hard to blame her for the outcome of Roe v. Wade. After all, states were already making abortion legal before her famous case. She did not decide for a nation but our jurists did. Yet her life chronicles the messy and complicated kinds of things that cannot be explained or resolved apart from the God who forgives our sins. McCorvey died at an assisted living center in Katy, Texas, on February 18, barely a month after the Pro-Life movement marched to reassert the sacred character of life and its abuse at the hands of a nation and culture that treats life as disposable and dispensable. She will always be a footnote in history. In the arms of a merciful God, we pray she will be more than that. In the meantime, we will continue to fight in a debate that shows no signs of ending though it has for Norma McCorvey.