Norma McCorvey passed away at age 69 on Saturday.
Her journey to notoriety began in June 1969 when she attempted to get an abortion. Her lying failed to secure legal permission, and her scheme to obtain an illegal abortion also ended unsuccessfully. She then gathered a diabolical duo of fee-hungry attorneys to gear up for a protracted legal fight. Fortuitously, the baby reached full term before the menacing lawsuit did, and in 1970 the suit was filed under the alias Jane Roe. The Dallas County DA was Henry Wade, and thus the infamous case was christened Roe v. Wade.
By the time the case popped out of the Supreme Court, the law was on the side of executing unborn people, a monstrous legality that began to rapidly and incessantly devour millions of unborn babies. Legally.
The rest, as they say, is history. And a bloody one at that.
But in 1994, Norma McCorvey flipped sides. She made the acquaintance of pastor Flip Benham who ran a pro-life outfit based adjacent to the pro-choice reproductive health clinic (read: infant abattoir) where McCorvey was working.
On her outdoor smoke breaks she would engage in heated banter with the pro-lifer next door. She eventually began to see him as a caring man, and even agreed to visit his church. Within a year she publicly declared that she had converted to Christianity, and was baptized in a backyard pool on national television.
McCorvey was a changed woman. She renounced her former views on abortion and began to live out what she said.
In 1998, she testified to Congress:
It was my pseudonym, Jane Roe, which had been used to create the ‘right’ to abortion out of legal thin air. But [my attorneys] never told me that what I was signing would allow women to come up to me fifteen, twenty years later and say, ‘Thank you for allowing me to have my five or six abortions. Without you, it wouldn’t have been possible.’ [They] never mentioned women using abortions as a form of birth control…women already wearing maternity clothes.”
In 2005 McCorvey petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn its 1973 ruling, and she has endorsed politicians based on their pro-life voting record.
The dramatic 180 degree turn of attitudes and behavior provides an apt illustration of the nature of repentance. Biblical repentance is a change of mind and the necessary difference in behavior that accompanies it.
The prodigal son also had an about turn. He confessed his sin, expressed contrition, committed to action, and displayed behavior consistent with his repentance. So is this a work of man, or of God?
The Bible teaches that repentance is a gift of God, and no man can boast in it as a good work of his own.
Acts 11:18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
2 Tim 2:24-26 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
This gift of repentance starts with a Spirit-initiated moment of conviction (John 16:7-8). Think of the prodigal son trapped in a pigsty of sin and shame. And then he has an epiphany that led to repentance. Jesus described it this way: “When he came to his senses…”
Paul’s murderous bent was stopped and reversed in a moment of blinding clarity too. As was ever other conversion in history. However subtle it may seem, there is a moment when the gospel light breaks through into the darkened mind of a sinner. And everything changes.
Charles Spurgeon avers,
There is no doubt that multitudes of sinners have been led to repentance in this way and, in some respects, this must be the universal way by which the Spirit of God conducts men to the goal of true penitence. As long as they live carelessly and thoughtlessly, they go on in their evil ways, but if they are stopped in their mad career, if they are made to consider, if they begin to think over their sin—if God, the Holy Spirit, convinces them of the guilt of it—He uses that thought and conviction to lead them to trust in Jesus Christ. The remembrance of sin committed is the Holy Spirit’s frequent, if not constant method of bringing men to weep over their wrong-doing and to turn from it.
For Ms. Jane Roe this happened sitting in the office of a pro-life group, Operation Rescue, staring at a poster showing fetal development. She would say of that moment:
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.
There is hope for the pro-death doctors and lobbyists and misinformed women (who are at times as much a victim of Satan’s lies as their babies are of his knives). But that hope must start with the Holy Spirit’s intervention and the ensuing moment of clarity, which only God can grant.
May Norma McCorvey rest in peace, the peace that can only come from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, which is ample grace to cover any sin.