Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that created a woman's right to an abortion, was the most controversial of the last century. It divides us yet.
Any nominee to a federal appellate court or the Supreme Court who does not swear allegiance to Roe is disqualified in the eyes of the Democratic Party. To Democrats, ensuring a woman's right to abort her child has become a tenet of their party, a reason for its existence, an article of their faith.
But what if Roe vs. Wade was based on fraud, deceit and lies?
Comes now a woman who knows as surely as anyone whether that explosive charge is true. That is Jane Roe herself, the Texas woman whose plight and plea persuaded the high court to strike down every state law restricting a woman's right to abort her child.
Who was, and is, Jane Roe? She is Norma McCorvey, and she has just filed a petition in a Dallas federal court, as the litigant in Roe vs. Wade, to have the 1973 ruling overturned.
McCorvey contends that when she was a 21-year-old street person, she was ignorant of what abortion meant, made up her story about being raped, and was deceived and used by her lawyers. Those lawyers, McCorvey says, told her that the baby inside her was "tissue."
After Roe vs. Wade came down, McCorvey became the Rosa Parks of the feminist movement. And because of her fame, she was regularly offered jobs at the abortion mills. What she witnessed inside them changed her heart.
Here is an excerpt from the affidavit McCorvey just filed, describing what it was like in the "clinics" where she held the hands of women being aborted, as they dug their nails into her palm:
"But the most distressing room in the facility was the 'parts room.' Aborted babies were stored there. There were dead babies and baby parts stacked like cordwood. Some of the babies made it into buckets and others did not, and because of its disgusting features, no one ever cleaned the room. The stench was horrible. Plastic bags full of baby parts that were swimming in blood were tied up, stored in the room and picked up once a week.
"At another clinic, the dead babies were kept in a big white freezer full of dozens of jars, all full of baby parts, little tiny hands and feet visible through the jars, frozen in blood. The abortion clinic's personnel always referred to these dismembered babies as 'tissue.'"
This is a scene straight out of hell. Recoiling from it, in 1995, McCorvey became a Christian and resolved to do what she could to overturn the decision that has permitted 40 million unborn to be butchered, their tiny torn bodies discarded in the fashion described above.
Aiding McCorvey is human rights lawyer Allan Parker, founder of The Justice Foundation. Parker is constructing a case much like the one Thurgood Marshall built in Brown vs. Board of Education
Marshall argued that in the 57 years that had elapsed since Plessy vs. Ferguson, evidence had mounted to show that segregation did demonstrable harm to black children in public schools. Based on that evidence, and new advances in social science, Marshall argued, Plessy should be overturned.
Using the affidavit of McCorvey, Parker is calling for Roe to be reversed, whole and entire, on the following grounds.
First, Roe deprived women of all protection from the dangers of abortion. Parker provides affidavits from 1,000 women who testify to the physical, psychological and emotional damage they suffered as a result of their abortions -- damage of which they were never made aware. The harm and horrors of abortion were not considered in 1973. Now they are known.
Second, tremendous strides have been made in medicine and science to enable the Rehnquist court, better than the Burger court of 1973, to decide with certitude when life begins.
Third, the issue of a women's right to privacy and not to have to care for an unwanted child has been addressed by Texas. Under a 1999 law, Texas will provide an upbringing for every child, up to 18 years of age, no questions asked of the mother, whose privacy will be protected.
As the facts have changed, and the situation has changed, and the thinking has changed -- and the original Roe decision was based on claims rooted in deceit and lies -- Roe should be reconsidered.
That is Parker's case. It is a compelling one -- as compelling as the story of Norma McCorvey, a brave women seeking to right a horrible wrong that was done, in some measure, because of her. On Friday, a Dallas federal judge threw out McCorvey's plea. But, undeterred, Allan Parker intends to take it the next step -- and ultimately to the Supreme Court, where it belongs.