January 17, 2009 | 5 Comments
Norma McCorvey first revealed herself as the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade in an interview with the Baptist Press almost immediately after the decision was handed down on January 22, 1973. The story was picked up by the Associated Press, with the earliest version I can find published in the Silver City Daily Press (New Mexico) on Saturday, January 27, 1973:
The story also ran within the week in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Texas), the Lawton Constitution (Oklahoma), the Ada Evening News (Oklahoma), the Port Arthur News (Texas), the Odessa American (Texas), and the Northwest Arkansas Times. However, as noted in Liberty and Sexuality Since Roe v Wade, McCorvey’s identity then “receded into full anonymity for most of the ensuing decade.” Accordingly, some 1983 newspaper articles marking the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision erroneously indicate that McCorvey did not reveal her identity until 1980; a 1995 Newsweek article claims it as 1984; this internet source says it was 1989; and the Amazon editorial review of McCorvey’s first book suggests that it was 1993.
Afflicted as I am with some form of multiple personality disorder (or so Beelzebub advises me) I am reminded of the similar confusion over the “coming out” date of Shirely Ardell Mason — the woman upon whom the 1974 book “Sybil” was based. A psychiatric historian, Peter Swales, proudly announced her name in December 1998, about ten months after she died. As it later turned out, some people from her home town (Dodge Center, Minnesota) had figured out Sybil’s identity from various descriptions in the book, and the Minneapolis Star ran a story naming her and her parents in August 1975. Although that story was also picked up by Variety, it was collectively forgotten and Swales’ “revelations” nearly 25 years later came as a surprise.