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Jane Roe’s daughter refuses to disclose views on abortion, doesn’t want to be used by ‘either side’

March for Life
Pro-life activists try to block pro-choice activists as the annual March for Life passes by in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on January 22, 2015, in Washington, D.C. Pro-life activists gathered in the nation's capital to mark the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. |

The daughter of Jane Roe, the namesake of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court abortion case Roe v. Wade, recently stated that while she holds an opinion on abortion, she refuses to disclose it because she does not want either side to use her for their own benefit.

Shelley Thornton was the unborn child that Norma McCorvey, who used the pseudonym Jane Roe, was pregnant with when she sued Texas over its abortion laws in the 1970s. Thornton, now 51, was born before the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Thornton was adopted after McCorvey gave birth to her during the Roe legal proceedings and her identity had been largely kept a secret for nearly 50 years. She conducted her first-ever television interview with ABC News, which aired Monday.

Thornton explained that she keeps her views on abortion "close to my chest," adding, "I don't want either side or both sides coming at me."

"I'm not going to let either side use me,' she declared. 

Thornton mentioned that abortion was "not a thing" growing up, as she was raised with the idea that "if a family member had a baby, [and] they couldn't take care of it then somebody else in the family took it and took care of it."

Thornton became aware of her biological mother's identity in 1989. She told ABC News that she was "tricked into meeting reporters from The National Enquirer" who informed her that McCorvey was her biological mother. Thornton "broke down" after learning the news and kept the information a secret for a long time thereafter.

The National Enquirer never revealed Thornton's identity to the public. But the tabloid announced that it had found "Jane Roe's baby" and quoted McCorvey as saying she "was ready to take [Thornton] into my arms and give her my love and be her friend."

Thornton said she refused to meet her birth mother in person and felt "no regrets" for the decision. She felt McCorvey was only going to use her for publicity.

"It became apparent to me really quickly that the only reason why she wanted to reach out to me and find me was because she wanted to use me for publicity," Thornton claimed. "She never expressed genuine feeling for me or genuine remorse for doing the things that she did, saying the things that she did."

In May 2020, FX on Hulu released a documentary titled "AKA Jane Roe," which featured excerpts from a 2017 interview with McCorvey not long before she passed away.

The documentary film garnered controversy for showing McCorvey claiming that she was paid to be a pro-life spokesperson and did not actually oppose abortion.

"I was the big fish. I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money and they'd put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. That's what I'd say. It was all an act. I did it well too. I am a good actress," said McCorvey, as quoted in the film.

Critics, including those who had known McCorvey for years, claimed, among other things, that the footage was deceptively edited and that she was likely not well mentally when the interview was conducted.

Troy Newman, president of the pro-life group Operation Rescue, released a statement saying he knew her well and that he could "verify she was 100 percent pro-life."

"I knew her to be a straightforward, down-to-earth woman who was witty and kind. She loved children and adored my own five children," stated Newman last year.

"There is no way her Christian faith or her pro-life beliefs were false. The makers of 'AKA Jane Roe' should be ashamed that they took advantage of Norma in the vulnerable last days of her life, then released their spurious movie after she passed away when she could not defend herself."

The broadcast of the ABC News interview with Thornton comes as the Supreme Court will weigh Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban. A ruling in favor of the state of Mississippi could significantly weaken the precedent set by Roe v. Wade that gives women wide latitude to have an abortion before the point of viability. A decision is expected by the end of June. 

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