‘Roe Baby’ At Center Of Landmark Abortion Case Is Identified For 1st Time

by Jeremy

The person is known as the “Roe baby,” referred to as such because of her birth mother’s role in the landmark case protecting abortion, allowed herself to be publicly identified for the first time Thursday.

Shelley Lynn Thornton, now 51, revealed herself as the so-called “Roe baby” in The Atlantic, which published an excerpt from an upcoming book about her, her birth mother, her half-sisters, and the ways their lives unfolded after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973.

'Roe Baby' At Center Of Landmark Abortion Case Is Identified For 1st Time

Thornton’s birth mother was the plaintiff who wanted to end her pregnancy in Texas legally. She was known throughout the proceedings as Jane Roe but later was revealed to be Norma McCorvey, who died in 2017.

Thornton spent the first 19 years without knowing McCorvey was her birth mother. The excerpt from “The Family Rose” by Joshua Prager explores how Thornton discovered she was the so-called “Roe baby,” her fraught relationship with McCorvey, and her frustration with the anti-abortion movement using her existence to bolster its cause. Though the Supreme Court ultimately decided three years after she filed her lawsuit that all women should have access to legal abortions, McCorvey had already been forced to carry her pregnancy to term, had given birth to Thornton, and had let another family adopt her newborn.

“My association with Roe started and ended because I was conceived,” Thornton tells Prager, with whom she began communicating in 2012. Prager writes: “From Shelley’s perspective, it was clear that if she, the Roe baby, could be said to represent anything, it was not the sanctity of life but the difficulty of being born unwanted.”

Thornton says one incident that grew to bother her was a 1989 article in the National Enquirer that described her as being “pro-life” ― a snippet that anti-abortion activists seized on. “That Texas law saved this nineteen-year-old woman’s life,” a National Right to Life Committee spokesman said.

Thornton began to think more deeply about the issue when she had an unplanned pregnancy in 1991.

“I guess I don’t understand why it’s a government concern,” she told Prager, saying that any abortion laws should not be influenced by religion and politics. Being described as “pro-life” in the Enquirer, she said, felt like being associated with “a bunch of religious fanatics going around and doing protests.”

The Atlantic’s excerpt comes as abortion bans dominate the news. Last week, a Texas law that effectively bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and deputizes private citizens to enforce it went into effect despite arguments that it’s a clear violation of Roe v. Wade and other Supreme Court precedents. Abortion rights activists anticipate copycat laws spreading across dozens of other states whose legislatures are hostile to the procedure.”This is rocket fuel in their engine,” Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, told HuffPost last week.

The Supreme Court, now dominated by conservative justices, has also agreed to hear a case out of Mississippi concerning pre-viability bans on abortion. If the court decides to favor the state, Roe v. Wade will effectively be overturned.

“The Family Rose” is scheduled for release on Tuesday.

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