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‘Jane Roe’ in Courtroom for Latest Abortion Arguments

April 27, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ ″Jane Roe,″ a Texas cleaning woman whose pregnancy led to the 1973 landmark decision legalizing abortion, watched quietly as the Supreme Court revisited her case 16 years later.

Recently emerged from the anonymity that had concealed her real name and kept her away from the court when it decided in her favor in 1973, Norma McCorvey was inside the Supreme Court on Wednesday as an observer during its arguments on whether to overturn the Roe vs. Wade decision.

″I’m very overwhelmed,″ she said later. ″I was just looking around and trying to listen to the arguments. I was thinking, I should have been there in 1973.″

McCorvey, as Jane Roe, agreed to become a test case in the legal challenge of anti-abortion laws when she became pregnant with a second child in 1970.

McCorvey, 41, answered questions with great difficulty and stumbled through a nine-line written statement as she met with reporters. Her present attorney, Gloria Allred, assisted her and told reporters that McCorvey has only a modest income, cleans other people’s homes for a living, and has a 10th grade education.

Allred, a feminist lawyer from Los Angeles known for her flamboyance, has helped McCorvey put together a movie deal about her experience. McCorvey is being paid as a consultant to the project.

She has been in hiding since April 4, when shotgun blasts were fired at her Dallas home. She suspects abortion opponents were trying to intimidate her.

McCorvey disputed suggestions she has been used in the new case and said she stepped forward at considerable risk because she still believes in the cause of a woman’s right to an abortion.

″Our law is in jeopardy for all the women of the United States,″ she said. ″I have to protect Roe vs. Wade.″

McCorvey said she considered an illegal abortion in 1970 but was revolted by conditions at a back-alley abortionist’s office she visited.

She didn’t have an abortion. Instead she gave birth and put her child up for adoption.

Her lawyer said McCorvey considered the experience ″far more traumatic to her than an abortion would have been.″

Yet McCorvey said she has recently begun efforts to locate that adopted child, whose conception triggered the landmark case.

Allred insists there’s no irony or inconsistency there. ″The whole point is it’s about a woman’s right to choose,″ she said.

So what would Norma McCorvey, once Jane Roe, say to this child?

″Well, I obviously wouldn’t discuss politics right away,″ she said. ″I’d just say, ’I’m your mom. How about a hug?‴

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