Norma McCorvey, the woman who went under the pseudonym “Jane Roe,” during the U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion died on Saturday at the age of 69.
McCorvey died at an assisted living center in Katy, Texas, said journalist Joshua Prager. Prager is working on a book about McCorvey and was with her and her family when she died. He confirmed she died of heart failure.
In 1969, McCorvey was 22, unmarried, unemployed and pregnant for the third time when she sought an abortion in Texas. However, the procedure was illegal unless it was being done to save a woman’s life.
The subsequent lawsuit became known as Roe vs. Wade and the 1973 Supreme Court ruling established abortion rights. However, by that time McCorvey had already given birth and given her daughter up for adoption.
Following the court’s ruling, she lived quietly by herself for years before revealing herself as Jane Roe in the 1980s. McCorvey also then confessed to lying about being the pregnancy being the result of a rape.
She remained an avid supporter of abortion rights throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. She even worked for a time at a Dallas women’s clinic where abortions were performed.
Decades later, McCorvey underwent a conversion and turned to religion. She became an evangelical Christian and joined the anti-abortion movement. Just a short time later, McCorvey underwent yet another conversion and became a Roman Catholic.
“I’m 100 percent pro-life. I don’t believe in abortion even in an extreme situation. If the woman is impregnated by a rapist, it’s still a child. You’re not to act as your own God,” she told The Associated Press in 1998.
Prior to becoming an outspoken anti-abortion advocate, McCorvey was represented by civil rights attorney, Gloria Allred. Allred said she remembers McCorvey as a “complicated person” and said that despite her change in stance, the two had continued to keep in touch throughout the years.
“Even though at the end of her life Norma thought women should be prevented from having an abortion and that abortion should be criminalized, her legacy will be Roe v. Wade, which has provided millions of women the legal right to choose abortion — a right which remains under attack and which I am committed to protect,” Allred said in a statement.
The court’s ruling in the case was based on the decision that a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy fell under the freedom of personal choice in family matters, which is protected by the Constitution.