Norma McCorvey is the pseudonymous “Jane Roe” of the 1973 landmark Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. In 1995, McCorvey recanted her position and joined the pro-life movement. Her extraordinary life story casts light on an array of issues, including the rise of the Christian Right in politics and the ways in which class tensions have informed the ongoing conflict over abortion.

Born to a poor family in 1947, McCorvey grew up mainly in Texas. In her autobiography, she recounts a hardscrabble life marred from an early age by physical, sexual, and substance abuse. By 1970, when she signed on as the plaintiff in the Texas court case that would become Roe v. Wade, she had already ...

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