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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

A pawn in their game

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, February 20, 2017 08:01 am

RIP, Norma McCorvey, AKA Jane Roe:

Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States, reshaping the nation’s social and political landscapes and inflaming one of the most divisive controversies of the past half-century, died on Saturday in Katy, Tex. She was 69.

Since the ruling, perhaps 50 million legal abortions have been performed in the United States, although later court decisions and new state and federal laws have imposed restrictions, and abortions have declined with the wide use of contraceptives. Theological, ethical and legal debates about abortion continue in religious circles, governing bodies and political campaigns, and they have influenced elections, legislation and the lives of ordinary people through films, books, periodicals, the internet and other forums.

At the heart of it all, Ms. McCorvey — known as Jane Roe in the court papers — became an almost mythological figure to millions of Americans, more a symbol of what they believed in than who she was: a young Dallas woman lifted by chance into a national spotlight she never sought and tried for years to avoid, then pulled by the forces of politics to one side of the abortion conflict, then by religion to the other.Several things stand out in McCorvey's life.

She was not a fiery abortion activist out to blaze new trails. Her life story is about as Dickensian as you can get in America:

 By her own account, she was the unwanted child of a broken home, a ninth-grade dropout who was raped repeatedly by a relative, and a homeless runaway and thief consigned to reform school. She was married at 16, divorced and left pregnant three times by different men. She had bouts of suicidal depression, she said.

She did not really want to be part of a sweeping lawsuit. She just really, really, really wanted an abortion.

Years later, Ms. McCorvey expressed bitterness at what she described as her attorneys’ unwillingness to help her find what she needed — an abortion, even an illegal one.

"Sarah sat right across the table from me at Columbo’s pizza parlor, and I didn’t know until two years ago that she had had an abortion herself," Ms. McCorvey told the New York Times in 1994. "When I told her then how desperately I needed one, she could have told me where to go for it. But she wouldn’t because she needed me to be pregnant for her case."

"Sarah saw these cuts on my wrists, my swollen eyes from crying," she continued, "the miserable person sitting across from her, and she knew she had a patsy. She knew I wouldn’t go outside of the realm of her and Linda. I was too scared. It was one of the most hideous times of my life."

Of course, the Roe v. Wade decision came too late for her. By 1973, the baby she had wanted to abort was already 2 and had been adopted out. (There is one person who is probably happy the case took so long.)

And later in life, McCorvey switched sides and became a champion of the right to life movement: Some say she was just a pawn used by both sides to push their ideas. Some say she was a manipulator always looking for money and attention. Either way, she became a small part of American history, someone in whose name the country was changed forever.

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A "day without immigrants" became a teachable moment about actions and consequences:

A total of 18 people were fired from a Tennessee business after joining the nation-wide protest "A Day Without Immigrants."

The 18 employees at Bradley Coatings, Incorporated in Nolensville, Tennessee told their supervisors on Wednesday they’d be taking part in the nationwide movement. Then, on Thursday, they were told they no longer had jobs.

"We are the team leaders directly under the supervisors and they informed us last night that we could not go back to work and the boss said we were fired," one employee said.

They were warned ahead of time that anybody who took off for the protest would be fire, and they went ahead and did it anyway. 

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Hawaiian Democrat argues that doctors should be able to prescribe housing to cure homelessness. What a great idea. We could also prescribe food to alleviate hunger and peace to get rid of war.

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NPR's report on Donald Trump's Florida weekend retreats leads off with and strongly emphasizes how inconvenient it is for local residents. A similar report about Barack Obama's retreats would surely have emphasized the benefits to local residents of a presidential visit. So, this is another reason to defund NPR.

 But this story that makes me wonder why we have NPR. It's not as if cable news is not overflowing in news channels. In fact, in many parts of the country — including my home state of West Virginia —  NPR is hard to get.

I'm not exactly a passionate advocate of defunding. The amounts involved are less than negligible when it comes to federal spending, and the federal portion of NPR's budget is quite small. But I can't think of any good reason to continue the funding, either.  Having government involved in media, even as a minority partner, just doesn't seem like a good idea.

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