The Child of 'Jane Roe' Has Come Forward

Her name is Shelley Lynn Thornton
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2021 1:41 AM CDT
Updated Sep 12, 2021 12:50 PM CDT
'Roe' Baby Reveals Her Identity
In this April 26, 1989 file photo, Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe in the 1973 court case, left, and her attorney Gloria Allred hold hands as they leave the Supreme Court building in Washington after sitting in while the court listened to arguments in a Missouri abortion case.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(Newser) – "Jane Roe," whose real name was Norma McCorvey, was at the heart of the case that secured a woman's right to an abortion—but the pregnancy that she was suing to abort came to term before the Supreme Court's decision on the case, and the baby was given up for adoption. She's now come forward, revealing her name publicly for the first time: Shelley Lynn Thornton. She's been in communication with Joshua Prager of the Atlantic for nearly a decade, and now Prager, who's also spoken extensively with other members of Thornton's adoptive and biological families, including McCorvey herself and her two older children, has written a book on the family. An in-depth excerpt from the piece has been published in the magazine.

Thornton found out who her birth mother was in 1989, the year after she graduated high school, when an adoption investigator hired by the National Enquirer to find her for a story reached out. Horrified at the idea of her story being told in the tabloid, she managed to get assurances that her identity would be kept anonymous. But she later had to fend off A Current Affair, and worried often that someone close to her would discover who she was. After giving birth to three children of her own, she felt isolated and slipped into depression. Now, she tells Prager, "I’m keeping a secret, but I hate it. ... I want everyone to understand that [coming forward] is something I’ve chosen to do." (Read the full piece for more on Thornton's difficult relationship with her birth mother, and her reunion with her half-sisters.)

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