I AM ROE by Norma McCorvey


My Life, Roe v. Wade, and Freedom of Choice
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 McCorvey, known to the world as Jane Roe, the plaintiff in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, candidly tells her life story. McCorvey kept silent about her identity as Jane Roe until the 1980s, when she began to emerge as a public figure, granting interviews to the press and addressing pro-choice rallies. She gradually began to disclose parts of her past that she had long kept hidden to protect herself and the pro-choice movement-- admitting, for example, that in her Roe testimony she lied about being raped. During that time, though, she endured other people's representations of her story, sanitized, for instance, by a TV movie or politely censored by well-meaning reporters. In I Am Roe she is relieved to recount her own life at last. (She is aided by freelance journalist Meisler). Some sections give historical background on abortion rights, accompanied by pleas for reproductive justice; these have the formulaic tone of a Planned Parenthood fund-raising letter. By contrast, McCorvey narrates the events of her own life with originality and courage. She acknowledges that she does not ``fit many people's idea of a historical role model;'' she is working class, has led most of her life as an open lesbian, and battled alcohol and drug addictions. She has also survived three unplanned pregnancies, a violent husband, rape, and physical abuse from her mother. In the detailing of such depressing events, the moments of joy are often the freshest--such as McCorvey's account of the warm community of girls and women in her reform school, or of meeting her life partner while shoplifting from her convenience store. I Am Roe is a compelling exploration of how one woman negotiates being a symbol and being herself. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 15th, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-017010-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1994


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