Jane Roe’s daughter says she is ‘devastated’ by Supreme Court ruling which has undone her mother’s ‘sacrifice’

Melissa Mills’ mother Norma Corvey is the woman at the centre of the landmark 1973 ruling

Rachel Sharp
Monday 27 June 2022 18:03 BST
Norma McCorvey's daughter speaks out about overturning of Roe v Wade

The daughter of the woman at the centre of Roe v Wade has said that she is “devastated” by the Supreme Court’s ruling which has now undone all her mother’s “hard work” and “sacrificing” that led to the legalisation of abortion in America five decades ago.

Melissa Mills, the eldest daughter of Norma McCorvey, spoke out to CNN after the conservative-heavy court overturned the landmark 1973 precedent on Friday, paving the way for half of all US states to ban or severely restrict abortion access.

“I was in disbelief. I was devastated,” she said.

“I knew it was coming but it was just too real, that it really happened and that they’ve taken us back 50 years from all the hard work and everything that women went through to get to where we are now.”

“My mother would just be devastated. It’s just hard to believe that now her grandkids are not gonna have the same rights as we’ve had for 50 years,” she said.

Ms Mills said that she was in “disbelief” that women today now face the same challenges and lack of rights as her own mother did all those years ago.

“The same thing my mother worried about – you know, someone telling you what to do with your reproductive rights and someone having their hand on you telling you when and where and how you need to live your life,” she said.

“As a woman, we have to take care of ourselves ... and that should be our decision, nobody else’s. Nobody, especially not a man.”

Ms Mills, a mother-of-two living in Texas, said that – if she had lived to see this day – her mother would also be “devastated” to see her grandchildren now have fewer rights than she had.

McCorvey was the woman at the centre of the landmark 1973 case that made access to abortion a constitutional right.

Melissa Mills speaks out after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade
Melissa Mills speaks out after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade (CNN)

Ms Mills was McCorvey’s first child and was adopted by her grandmother, meaning she still grew up with her biological mother in her life.

By 1970, McCorvey had given birth to a second daughter who was adopted by a couple in Texas when she fell pregnant for a third time.

Unmarried, 22 and living in Texas, she was unable to get an abortion as it was banned across most of the country at the time.

She filed a lawsuit under the pseudonym Jane Roe to be able to have an abortion.

Roe v Wade took three years to move through the courts before the Supreme Court heard the case and issued its landmark ruling in 1973.

By this time, McCorvey had given birth to her baby – a daughter who was also adopted.

That baby, Shelley Lynn Thornton, spoke out for the first time last year and revealed that she only learned of her identity years later.

McCorvey, who during her lifetime became both an activist on the pro-choice and anti-abortion side of the debate, passed away in 2017.

Norma McCorvey (left) outside the Supreme Court
Norma McCorvey (left) outside the Supreme Court (1989 AP)

Ms Mills told CNN that her family had “suffered” over the years due to her mother’s involvement in the fight for the right to an abortion but that she is “very proud of her”.

“It wasn’t just herself, she helped all women. It’s devastating to know that all that hard work and all the sacrificing, we’re right back to where we were 50 years ago,” she said.

She said she was especially upset that Texas – the same state where her mother fought and won the right to an abortion five decades ago – is among the Republican states about to ban abortion.

“I just thought Texas would never do that,” she said.

“I just never thought Texas would be the one to go all the way backwards.”

Texas was one of 13 states with a trigger law in place ready to go into place as soon as Roe was overturned.

The ban will go into place on 24 July – 30 days from the Supreme Court ruling – banning abortion with the only exception being when a woman’s life is in danger.

Doctors performing abortion in the state could face life in prison or a fine of $100,000.

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