May 13, 2013

Roe v. Abortion: the Radical Repentance of Norma McCorvey

by Clint Archer

In June 1969 Norma McCorvey tried 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. missing

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 (yes, Flip) Benham who ran a pro-life outfit based adjacent to the pro-choice (for death) 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 publically 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 their 1973 ruling, and she has endorsed politicians based on their pro-life voting record.

Landmark decisionThe dramatic 180 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 action 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 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,  25  correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,  26  and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Eph 2: 8  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast.I survived Roe v Wade

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.

save roeFor 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.


This article be a pro-choice reporter who changed his view after covering the Gosnell trial, is worth the read.


Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • What an amazing story, and one I’m embarrassed not to know about. Just a testament to God’s power, how this woman found Him and was turned away from evil. With the new legislation in North Dakota, I hope we are moving toward a time when we can call this practice another gruesome chapter of American history, like slavery.
    May God bless the children, our most vulnerable.

    • Amen to that brother. I think our children’s children will be appalled at what our generation considered legally defensible. But with God on our side, who can be against us?

  • I’m really glad she changed her mind on abortion, but Norma is a practicing Roman Catholic so it seems she jumped outta the frying pan, into evangelicalism briefly, then into the fire, so to speak.

    Again, I’m glad she’s on the side of “life,” but I’m afraid verses referring to biblical repentance and by grace are ye saved through faith may not apply to her. It seems that many people find the abortion “issue” to be more important than the gospel, which makes the RCC an attractive place for them.

    I am not trying to be a downer, but I think the RCC is teaching a false gospel with terrifying eternal consequences, and I would hate for someone to look to Norma as some kind of example of godliness.

    • I guess we’ll find out at the Bēma Seat.

      • I’m confused by your comment. Based on your other writings and the theme throughout TCG, I am under the assumption that you would agree that anyone who holds to the beliefs of the RCC is not saved by grace through faith alone by their implicit denial of the gospel through their profession of faith in the RCC.

        That is to say, a person cannot simultaneously believe such contradictory gospels.

        Are you arguing that maybe Norma is a truly regenerate adopted daughter of God who just so happens to be a part of a false religion? Or are you arguing that RCC does not teach a false gospel?

        If the former, what more than a profession of faith in a religious system which denies the gospel of grace would it take for you to consider someone apostate?

        Honest questions. Forgive terseness, etc.

        • What I meant was that we’ll see at the Bema Seat if her conversion in 1994 to Christ was genuine or not. She converted to RCC after her public profession of faith in Christ, after hearing the gospel from and being baptized by an evangelical pastor. Her switch to RCC happened later, which either indicates that she never understood grace by faith alone in the first place, or that she was genuinely saved, and has joined RCC for other reasons to do with pro-life work.

          • So if she joined Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witness or Islam in order to do pro-life work, would you still say “we’ll see at the Bema Seat?”

            Or would you cite 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:18-19, ESV) and 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.(Galatians 1:9, ESV).

            If you would cite the above verses and similar to declare her a likely apostate and unregenerate, why not do it with RCC conversion as well?

            If a believer in your church joined the RCC church and was confirmed, would you find that to be an area that requires discipline, or would you just transfer the membership?

            With respect to you and your opinions, I am deeply bothered by the idea that we would allow people to believe the RCC is an OK place for a believer to “worship” and “do service.” As well, the implicit profession of faith either means she is double minded or actually denies the gospel of grace that actually saves. I guess what I’m saying is any way you slice it, she isn’t to be exalted as a person, although I agree the act of going pro-life from pro-murder is a wonderful thing.

          • Brother, I don’t mean to bother you deeply. I have no idea where McCorvey stands with the Lord. I said “The dramatic 180 turn of attitudes and behavior provides an apt illustration of the nature of repentance.” I was using her radical transformation in attitudes and behavior as a picture of what repentance looks like. That is what Jesus did with the parable of the prodigal son. Was the prodigal son a believer or not? The point of the parable is that God rejoices when the vilest of sinners turns from their sin, and we should rejoice too. In another place Jesus uses the illustration of a dishonest manager to say “be like that guy” in respect to his long-term perspective. I’m not saying we should be like Jane Roe in leaving our churches for Rome, but that we should be like her in having behavior and attitudes change radically. I hope this allays some of your fears that CGate is going Roman on you. Now that would be a radical change!

          • Thanks, Clint. I apologize if I am coming across rudely over text. I’m just conversing with a brother. I do get your point, but I would still contend that at least half the verses you referenced and the CHS quote refer to repentance leading unto salvation – and it appears implied in the article that that is what occurred to Norma. So the point you just made seems to be a needed clarification.

            And yes, especially after hearing John MacArthur’s A Tale of Two Sons, I would contend the prodigal son is a picture of a truly regenerate believer and the parable is intended to communicate that (along with the other parables around that one).

            Norma’s change of heart and mind concerning abortion, I would assent, is a good thing even without faith in Christ alone – and something to rejoice about – my point is simply to be clear so that you are not ambiguous.

            LOL on the CGate going Roman on me – we’d need a new 180 movie for that! 🙂 Lord bless you brother, keep up the thought provoking articles.

          • julie

            Ultimately, what good is it to be pro-life but not trust in Christ alone for salvation?

            Jesus said, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” Matthew 16:26

            Clint you have really have not thought through all the implications of what you have written. Michael Coughlin was right in his line of reasoning with you.

  • What an amazing story that reminds us of God’s amazing grace

    • Thanks for checking in SlimJim.

  • 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.

    A thousand amens to that.

    Thanks for putting Norma’s story on here, well put together. Indeed a marvelous testament to the grace of God. I’m glad that at least out of this Gosnell ordeal, people’s eye’s have been opened where they were once closed to the vile wretchedness of murdering babies.

    • I agree. Awareness of the truth about abortion is what will eventually win this war.

      • julie

        no awareness will not win the war. People already KNOW, Clint. They know there is a God in heaven and they deny that, so what is the big deal about denying that it is a child you are killing? What is the big deal if you don’t “want” the child? What is the big deal if you cover the sin of fornication with murder? So what? Who cares? There’s no one to whom we are accountable, so the thinking goes, so what is the big deal? It’s legal isn’t it?
        we have given people waaaay too much credit. We have not understood the radicalness of sin, the deception and the horror of it. It is not a lack of information that allows abortion to continue or any other sin for that matter. It is the depravity of the human heart.

  • Clint, thanks for
    writing this. I had no idea about her repentance from being
    “pro-choice.” However, as a former slave to the RCC, I must agree
    with Michael about her apparent spiritual condition. All though we can’t know
    for sure on this side of glory, I seriously call into question anyone who
    claims to have tasted the free grace of Christ and then turns around and joins
    an apostate religion. We rejoice in her changed stance re: abortion (repenance doesn’t always have a spiritual connotation to it), but mourn
    over the new lie she has embraced. I’m sure you’d agree that anyone who holds
    to a RC soteriology does not understand the Gospel of grace?

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