Lester: Hearing Jane Roe in Ireland

Kerry Lester

Last semester, I investigated the reasons behind Villanova’s quiet decision not to administer any type of birth control to its students on campus. This semester, I am living in a faraway land where the Church’s clamp on contraception is much more vast – where the Pill has yet to be covered under a single insurance plan, and those seeking abortions must travel across a channel to even consider the procedure.

I am studying at the National University of Ireland at Galway. Last week, Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe of 1973’s Roe v. Wade) spoke in an auditorium so packed that special fire safety measures were explained before she was introduced.

I possessed a fuzz background about the case itself because I had read the Supreme Court Justices Blackburn and White’s majority and dissenting decisions on the verdict legalizing abortion in all 50 states up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

After a short introduction, a stout woman with short gelled hair and a large gold cross around her neck marched in. Aided by a dry sense of humor, she began to share the details of her life post-Supreme Court case – working in four Dallas abortion clinics until she began to see the light and turn to Christ, through a pro-life organization named Operation Rescue.

Just as she established her respect and admiration with the vehemently Catholic crowd, suddenly McCorvey got nasty. As she spoke of her own internal healing, she lashed out at those who held contrary beliefs to her own. I chuckled to myself as I started to think of her as one of my least favorite television stars, “Roe-sanne.”

Instead of talking about possible ways to change people’s hearts, she merely mud-slinged and name-called like a politician looking to win a race. Here are just a few of the offensive quotes the evening contained.

“It was just as I had visited Planned Death … oops … I meant Planned Parenthood.”

“Women are funny creatures – they don’t seek out the consequences, or look at the big picture when making decisions … especially when considering an abortion.”

“I was an executioner in a killing center.”

“Those in the pro-abortion movement have become more and more like grave robbers.”

After her speech, the floor was opened up for a question and answer session. Surprisingly, the NUIG student body – one whose faiths are so interconnected with everyday life that taking Catholic Church sacraments are part of primary and secondary school requirements, had little more respect for Roe than a pack of vultures salivating over a rotting carcass.

One girl in the crowd shouted out to McCorvey, “What about rape?” McCorvey gripped the podium in front of her, widened the stance of her legs, and stared at the girl as if to begin a duel: “Anything else to say to me, MA’AM?”

Another asked why it took her nearly 22 years to change her stance on the issue. McCorvey ignored the question directly, and flew into the horrors of a partial birth abortion.

Straddling the abortion fence for years, I attended the talk hoping McCorvey would give me an answer. An hour and a half later, I left more confused and disgusted with the issue than ever. However, in the past few days, I’ve realized that although McCorvey’s abortion request opened the door for millions of women to receive a controversial procedure, she herself is just one case. As we all are.