Norma McCorvey and Sandra Cano

Last in the Voices to Trust series. 

Norma McCorvey and Sandra Cano rejected the Supreme Court decisions that were supposedly made in their favor. Their identities obscured in the 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases, they ultimately went public with their dissent from those decisions, reclaiming their own names and proclaiming their support of the right to life.


McCorvey was “Jane Roe,” the plaintiff in a challenge to Texas abortion law that culminated in Roe v. Wade, overturning most abortion restrictions and regulations nationwide. Cano was the anonymous plaintiff in Doe v. Bolton, an abortion case decided the same day as Roe, which resulted in an expansive definition of “health of the mother” as justification for abortion on demand. Ironically, neither woman had an abortion pursuant to the decisions.

McCorvey supported the Roe decision for about twenty years before renouncing it and becoming pro-life. In a one-minute 2010 video, she summarized her position. “I realized that my case, which legalized abortion on demand, was the biggest mistake of my life….but now I’m dedicated to spreading the truth about preserving the dignity of all human life from natural conception to natural death.”

Asked in a 1997 interview what she thought people could do to stop abortion, McCorvey said,  “[I]t doesn’t make any difference what religion you are, or how young you are or how old you are, I think if they get up and go to these abortion mills, and stand there – and they don’t have to do anything, they can just stand there and pray, I think that would make a lot of difference. We have to be seen in numbers.”

Sandra Cano (Photo from
Sandra Cano (Photo from

Sandra Cano came to be the Supreme Court’s “Doe” after she went to an attorney for help with matters relating to divorce and child custody. As she told a Congressional committee in 2005,

“I was very vulnerable: poor and pregnant with my fourth child, but abortion never crossed my mind. Although it apparently was utmost in the mind of the attorney from whom I sought help….Please understand even though I have lived what many would consider an unstable life and overcome many devastating circumstances, at no time did I ever have an abortion. l did not seek an abortion nor do I believe in abortion. Yet my name and life is now forever linked with the slaughter of 40-50 million babies.
“…I feel like my name, life, and identity have been stolen and put on this case without my knowledge and against my wishes….One of the Justices of the Supreme Court said during oral argument in my case ‘What does it matter if she is real or not.’ Well, I am real and it does matter.”

Cano died in 2014, with Doe v. Bolton still standing. To the end of her life, she told her story far and wide. She knew that the truth and her experience were too important to hide.

McCorvey has noted how as with Doe, disregard for truth played an important part in the Roe decision. “I was persuaded by feminist attorneys to lie; to say that I was raped, and needed an abortion. It was all a lie. Since then, over 50 million babies have been murdered. I will take this burden to my grave. Please, don’t follow in my mistakes.”


Share the words of these women who moved beyond abortion to embrace respect for life: McCorvey and Cano, who lost their identities in court and then reclaimed them; the women who ran abortion facilities and now help people leave the industry; women who survived efforts to abort them; women who reject being called “exceptions“; post-abortive women like Catherine, Karen, Susan and Julia. If ever the words “trust women” are used in an effort to squelch pro-lifers – not mention when they’re used to imply that men have no right to speak up about human rights – bring these women’s words into the discussion.

Voices to trust: a series

Every time I see a “Trust Women” sticker or meme or hashtag in the context of abortion advocacy, a question springs to mind: trust women to do what? Makes about as much sense to me as wearing a “Trust Men” sticker. Trustworthiness is not a gender-linked trait.

Clockwise from top L: Rebecca Kiessling, Susan Delemus, Karen Colageo, Darlene Pawlik, Catherine Adair, Julia Holcomb. Photos by Ellen Kolb.
Clockwise from top L: Rebecca Kiessling, Susan Delemus, Karen Colageo, Julia Holcomb,Catherine Adair, Darlene Pawlik – some of the women whose stories will be featured on Leaven for the Loaf in the coming weeks. Photos by Ellen Kolb.

There are women I trust, of course – not because they’re women, but because they affirm life while they speak with authority born of experience. Those voices deserve to be heard.

Beginning on December 22 and running until the anniversary of Roe v. Wade on January 22, I’m going to feature posts about women who came through a variety of experiences to find themselves – sometimes to their own astonishment – opposing abortion and Roe v. Wade.

Some but not all of the stories will be familiar to you.   The women whose voices we’ll hear come from varying  backgrounds and faith traditions. There are Granite State neighbors and people of national renown. Some have led quiet, straightforward lives; others have survived profound disorder and have refused to surrender to it.

This won’t be a compendium of storybook saints. Life can be a hot mess, and these women have been in the thick of it, some with more serenity than others.

Their callings have all to one degree or another been about abortion. Some of the women have had abortions or have provided them. Others work with abortion-vulnerable or post-abortive women. There are women who were born alive after attempted abortion, or who were conceived in circumstances that made them “exceptions” to abortion restrictions. Finally, there are the women whose pseudonyms are on the Roe v. Wade decision and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton.

The Voices to Trust series begins here December 22. Links to the posts will be added below as they’re published.

Links to posts in the series:

Catherine Adair

Karen Colageo, post-abortion counselor

New Hampshire Rep. Susan DeLemus

Julia Holcomb

Gianna Jessen and Melissa Ohden

Abby Johnson and Sue Thayer

Darlene Pawlik and Rebecca Kiessling


Civil rights consistency

The New Hampshire Union Leader brings us another entry in the annals of cognitive dissonance among civil libertarians. The library in Lebanon, New Hampshire has withdrawn from a pilot program that allowed patrons to surf the Web anonymously on library computers. Law enforcement isn’t thrilled with the program. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire takes a different view. Devon Chaffee of ACLU-NH said, “The bottom line is that we can’t shut down public parks because sometimes crimes are committed in public parks and we can’t stop selling ski masks because sometimes crimes are committed by people wearing ski masks.”

This follows by only a few days the news that ACLU-NH may sue the city of Franklin over a curfew for people under 16 years of age. From the Union Leader’s coverage: “The ACLU’s primary complaint against the curfew, [ACLU-NH attorney Gilles] Bissonnette said Wednesday, is the potential for children to be scrutinized for their conduct in situations ‘that have nothing to do with criminality.'”

And then there’s the organization’s position against New Hampshire’s late, unlamented “ballot selfie” law.

In jarring contrast to all this, ACLU-NH lobbied for New Hampshire’s buffer zone law, the now-enjoined statute that would allow private business owners who perform abortions to define where and at what hours public sidewalks are actually open to the public.

Personally, I think we can’t shut down public sidewalks because sometimes crimes are committed on public sidewalks. And I’m not a big fan of scrutiny of conduct in situations that have nothing to do with criminality.

Maybe ACLU-NH is teetering on the edge of defending the civil rights of peaceful pro-life demonstrators. Consistency might exert just strong enough a push. That’s more optimistic than thinking that some sincere civil libertarians are hopelessly lost to Roe-v.-Wade Derangement Syndrome.


Born this date in 1924: Nellie Gray

Nellie Gray founded the national March for Life in 1974, probably not thinking that she would still be coming back to the National Mall annually for the next 38 years until her passing in 2012. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court Justices in their wisdom decided to hold over their Roe v. Wade decision until 1973, placing it not in the usual big-case time of late June but instead on January 22. The annual March thus takes place in weather that can be downright nasty. No problem, said Nellie; the March goes on regardless of such concerns.

If memory serves, I’ve been to three national Marches. Every one has been marked by the overwhelming presence of young people who come by bus from every Eastern state. Need evidence that the pro-life movement is not dying out but instead is growing? See you on the National Mall next January.

Here are some of my own photos from the 2013 March for Life, followed by a short video made by the national March for Life team in honor of Nellie Gray.

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Tell them to their faces: fetal homicide bills at risk again

CAM00397The committee reports are out. The votes are scheduled. The New Hampshire House and Senate are ready to deal with this year’s fetal homicide bills. Or perhaps they’re not. A sickeningly familiar scenario is set to be played out: a bill to make it a crime to kill a preborn child against the mother’s will is about to become an it’s-not-nice-to-kill-pregnant-ladies bill.

Deana and Nathan Crucitti came to the Senate Judiciary committee to describe in painful detail how a distracted driver caused the death of their full-term daughter, mere days before a scheduled cesarean delivery. Rep. Leon Rideout spoke to a House committee for the second year in a row about how his grandson Griffin died of injuries he sustained in utero in a collision caused by a careless driver. Rideout’s daughter Ashlyn, Griffin’s mother, sat next to Griffin’s father Daniel as Rideout told the committee how no criminal charge was even possible addressing the death of the baby.

Two bills were introduced this year, one by Rep. Rideout and one by Senator Regina Birdsell. The bills differed in the point of pregnancy at which a fetal homicide charge could be filed. Each sponsor brought in a family suffering from the violent termination of a wanted pregnancy. No committee member can possibly un-hear those stories or un-see the photos of the dead children.

And yet the committees split sharply on the bills. The House committee voted 10-7 in favor of passage as introduced, with the minority preferring an amendment to gut the bill. The Senate committee voted 3-2 to gut the bill, using the same language recommended in the House committee’s minority report.

The Senate does not print committee reports in its calendar. The House calendars are more revealing. Rep. Laura Pantelakos (D-Portsmouth) wrote for the minority – those seven dissenting members of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee – “HB 560 as written, again creates a contradiction in one of the frameworks underpinning the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision by establishing fetal rights separate from the woman’s rights.”

The minority in the House has proposed an amendment which not-so-coincidentally is identical to the Senate’s proposed amendment: enhanced penalties for killing a pregnant woman when the homicide results in miscarriage or stillbirth. The amendments would permit no criminal charge for the child’s death.

If those amendments are adopted, thereby gutting the bills, a pregnant woman would have to be dead before the law could take any notice of her child – and even then the notice would be an oh-by-the-way factor in sentencing, not a criminal charge.

There’s a kind of mental disease at work here, a condition with no name, insidious and destructive. It’s a condition that makes some unfortunate people see everything through the lens of abortion rights. The condition leads to distorted vision and perception; it makes the sufferer perceive threats that aren’t really there. It’s a condition that would be merely pitiful if it weren’t so destructive.

More than three dozen states have fetal homicide laws. Have you heard of Roe v. Wade being nullified in any of those states? Of course not – because that hasn’t happened. Whether one considers Roe v. Wade a good thing or not, fetal homicide legislation would not affect it in the slightest. As many abortion facilities in New Hampshire would still be running at full speed the day after enactment as the day before.

Abortion advocates, joined by alleged civil libertarians, opposed New Hampshire’s fetal homicide bills at hearings this year. They made the obligatory comments about how their hearts go out to the bereaved families, and then they said in effect “but …Roe.”

If women’s rights are so damn important – and they are – why are there legislators ready to deny and dismiss the right of Ashlyn Rideout and Deana Crucitti to bear the children they carried and wanted? Why isn’t it a crime to cause the termination of a pregnancy against the mother’s wishes? I have no idea what Rideout and Crucitti think about abortion rights, but they’ve been clear about the need to respect their right to choose to carry a child to term. Failure to pass a fetal homicide bill preserves the gaping hole in New Hampshire law in which the killing of a preborn child is a non-event.

New Hampshire can do better. We’ve come very close before, only to see votes drawn away by the entreaties of abortion advocates. That insidious condition, the I-see-Roe-everywhere attitude, has prevailed in every past New Hampshire vote on fetal homicide legislation. It’s time to cast aside that confining, blinding condition.

Let each legislator who wants to gut the bills stand in front of Ashlyn Rideout and Deana Crucitti, and say to them face-to-face “but …Roe.”