The woman whose mother’s desire to abort her gave rise to the historic Roe v Wade case has agreed to give her first-ever televised interview.

Shelley Lynn Thornton, 51, was born in Texas before her mother, Norma McCorvey, was granted the right to have an abortion.

McCorvey, who died in 2017 at the age of 69, gave her newborn daughter up for adoption almost immediately after she was born in June 1970.

On January 22, 1973, McCorvey won the case in the Supreme Court.

Thornton’s story was initially published in The Atlantic last month, and she will appear on ABC News for the first time on Monday, Oct. 4.

In a small clip from Monday’s ABC News program released on Friday, Oct. 1, Thornton remained silent when asked how it feels to be the baby that cleared the road for America to legalize abortion nationwide, according to Daily Mail.

Thornton’s interview with ABC’s Linsey Davis (ABC News/Screenshot via TheBL/Twitter)

The discussion takes place at a time when the debate over abortion rights has taken on new importance.

Texas recently enacted the country’s strictest abortion restrictions, and the Supreme Court will hear arguments on Mississippi’s planned ban on December 1.

‘Roe baby’

Thornton, who had never met her birth mother in person, told writer Joshua Prager that she had decided to speak out after more than 50 years because she wanted to be free of the “secrets and lies.”

“Secrets and lies are, like, the two worst things in the whole world. I’m keeping a secret, but I hate it,” she said, in an adapted excerpt from Prager’s new book The Family Roe: An American Story”, published in The Atlantic.  

“I want everyone to understand that this is something I’ve chosen to do.”

The initial photo identifying Thornton was tweeted by The Atlantic shortly after the story was published, and it was repeated throughout the day.

“My association with Roe started and ended because I was conceived,” she told Prager, whose book is published September 14.  

Norma McCorvey, aka ‘Jane Roe,’ and her attorney Gloria Allred appeared before the Supreme Court in 1989. (FX Networks/Screenshot via TheBL/Youtube)
Norma McCorvey (left) and her attorney Gloria Allred (right) clasp hands as they walk out of the Supreme Court building in Washington after listening to arguments in a Missouri abortion case in 1989. (CBS News/Screenshot via TheBL/Youtube)

McCorvey, who was 22 at the time and lived in Dallas, Texas, sued in 1970 under the name “Jane Roe,” requesting the right to have an abortion.

She had previously given birth to two girls, both of whom she had put up for adoption.

Abortion was banned at the time, save in cases when the mother’s life was in danger. McCorvey, on the other hand, never received the abortion.

The case dragged on until 1973, defining reproductive rights in the United States.

McCorvey had given birth to the baby and placed her for adoption by this time, and the child was two and a half years old and living with new parents.

Thornton informed Prager in an extract from “The Family Roe: An American Story” obtained by The Atlantic that she had always known she was adopted and wished to locate her birth mother.

She claims, however, that she has suffered from melancholy and anxiety for years, which she owes in part to the fact that she was “not desired” by her birth mother.

“When someone’s pregnant with a baby and they don’t want that baby, that person develops knowing they’re not wanted,” said Thornton.  

Thornton was the only child of Ruth Schmidt and Billy Thornton, who sought the assistance of attorney Henry McCluskey after being unable to have a child of their own.

In June 1970, the couple brought their three-day-old daughter home, unaware that she was at the center of a high-profile dispute.

Thornton said she and her adoptive parents didn’t find out she was the “Roe baby” by the anti-abortion movement until nearly two decades later.

In 1989, McCorvey publicly stated that she wished to find her third child.

In an adapted passage from journalist Joshua Prager’s forthcoming book, out Sept 14, The Atlantic reported that Shelley Lynn Thornton, 51, is Norma McCorvey’s youngest daughter. (CBS Mornings/Screenshot via TheBL/Youtube)

The National Enquirer conducted an investigation with the assistance of Toby Hanft, a lady who had previously given up her own daughter for adoption and was now seeking to reunite birth mothers with their children.

Hanft was able to locate and identify Thornton, who was 18 at the time.

When Thornton learned that her mother’s name was Jane Roe, she said she didn’t know much about the Supreme Court case except that it “made it OK for people to go out and be promiscuous.”

“The only thing I knew about being pro-life or pro-choice or even Roe v. Wade was that this person had made it OK for people to go out and be promiscuous,” she told Prager.

Following the shocking news, she said she was left “shaking all over and crying.’”

The Enquirer released an article in 1989 announcing the discovery of the so-called “Roe baby,” but did not expose Thornton’s identity at her request, and she did not meet with McCorvey.

Thornton told Prager she found out she was pregnant two years after the Enquirer article was published when she was an unmarried 20-year-old.

She was already preparing to marry her boyfriend Doug, but she was “not at all” interested in becoming a mother, so Doug recommended they consider having an abortion, she explained.

Thornton said her involvement in the Roe v. Wade case had prompted her to reconsider her abortion beliefs.

When the Enquirer tracked her down, Ruth, her adoptive mother, informed the journalist, “we don’t believe in abortion,” according to Prager.

The Atlantic said that she told the journalist that she “couldn’t see herself having an abortion.” As a result, she was labeled a pro-lifer by the publication.

Thornton informed Prager that she disagreed with this portrayal of pro-lifers because she saw them as “a bunch of religious fanatics going around and doing protests.”

“This is my deathbed confession.” Norma McCorvey shares her truth in AKA Jane Roe, an FX Documentaries film on May 22, 2020. (FX Networks/Screenshot via TheBL/Youtube)

However, she also didn’t identify as pro-choice because “Norma was pro-choice, and it seemed to Shelley that to have an abortion would render her no different than Norma,” Prager wrote.  

Thornton informed Prager that she had come to the conclusion that religion and politics should not be allowed to influence abortion legislation.

“I guess I don’t understand why it’s a government concern,” she said.     

However, she recognized that abortion was “not a part of who I was,” so she opted to have the baby, a boy, and make him feel wanted.

“I knew what I didn’t want to do,” she said in the book excerpt.

“I didn’t want to ever make him feel that he was a burden or unloved.”

Thornton and Doug have two more daughters, born in 1999 and 2000, respectively.

Thornton told Prager that she had a tumultuous relationship with her biological mother and had never met her in person.

Later in life, McCorvey claimed that she had not been raped and used this as a justification for making abortion legal.

She later became a pro-choice figurehead at abortion rights demonstrations alongside her attorney Gloria Allred after revealing her identity as Jane Roe days after the 1973 Supreme Court verdict.

She became a born-again Christian and altered her stance to pro-life.

She spoke out against abortion and even cut an ad against Barack Obama, who in 2012 was the most pro-abortion president in history before Joe Biden.


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