Narrative Over Truth, Abortion Edition
After a new documentary revealed that Roe v. Wade plaintiff Norma McCorvey said she became an anti-abortion activist because she was paid to do so, the ConWeb's anti-abortion activists sought to discredit the film.
By Terry Krepel
Alexa Moutevelis wrote in a May 21 post, before the film was released:
The week, a new documentary alleges that Norma McCorvey, aka “Jane Roe” in Roe v. Wade, claimed she was paid to convert to the pro-life position in a “deathbed confession.” Those who knew her in the pro-life movement are skeptical and said she always seemed sincere in her beliefs, pointing to two decades' worth of McCorvey’s pro-life activism as proof. The documentary isn’t even out yet (AKA Jane Roe will be released by FX on Friday) but still pro-abortion activists pounced on the news to indict the entire pro-life movement and Christian right.
She went on to complain that "pro-abortion feminazi" Amanda Marcotte "said [McCorvey's] original pro-life conversion was met with skepticism from pro-aborts."In fact, Marcotte did not use the term "pro-abort" anywhere in her piece; that's a derogatory term anti-abortion activists like Moutevelis use to attack those who support abortion rights.
Moutevelis then dismissed McCorvey's statements in order to stay on message: "Whatever McCorvey's true feelings, the fact remains, abortion is not medical care, it's the intentional destruction of human life. We don't need to pay anyone to believe that, embryology textbooks will do just fine."
The same day -- again, before the film was released -- Kyle Drennen complained that ABC "hyped" the bombshell claim from McCorvey, going on to attack correspondent Deborah Roberts: "At no point in the segment did Roberts speak to pro-life activists who worked with McCorvey for years or the Catholic priest who helped guide her conversion to the Church and conducted her funeral, all of whom cast doubt on how the documentary portrayed her." That despite the fact that none of them had seen the film.
The MRC finally got around to reviewing the film in a May 29 post by Rebecca Downs, who predictably panned it because it doesn't advance her narrative, then attacked its makers: "Live Action News pointed out that the documentary was heavily edited. The producers of the film also have pro-abortion ties." We remember when the MRC defended video editing when anti-abortion activists tried to run a sting operation on Planned Parenthood, to the point where Tim Graham and Brent Bozell indignantly declared that "all video is edited."
Downs tried to spin things by insisting that the it was actually the "abortion movement" that used McCorvey, not her side, with gaslighting asides that "It’s actually the abortion movement doing the exploiting and betraying women." She concluded by huffing: "Nowhere are the lies from the abortion movement fully examined; pro-lifers are the bad guys. The takeaway of the documentary ought to be how misleading and one-sided the abortion industry is, only further propagated by the pro-abortion media."
Stated like someone who has to keep the narrative going no matter what.
CNS echoes its parent
CNSNews.com has problems with the new documentary on Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" in the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion -- namely, her claim that she flipped to being an anti-abortion activist because she was paid to do so.
A May 21 column by Alveda King (also published at Newsmax), which came out before the film was released, rehashed anti-abortion talking points and added a little self-promotion to attack the film and perpetuate the anti-abortion movement's narrative on McCorvey:
Shameful fake news would have us believe that Norma McCorvey was a mercenary. Nothing could be further from the truth. For those of us who knew and loved Norma, we know that at the end, Norma loved God, and Norma loved life.
The next day, CNS published a column by Penny Nance of the right-wing, anti-abortion Concerned Women for America. Nance also apparently hadn't seen the film, choosing instead to attack director Nick Sweeney because his "body of work informs his agenda." but she too was more interested in perpetuating the anti-abortion agenda that the film undermines:
But the abortion deception demands more and more lies in order to keep its house of cards alive. From their standpoint, the public must never discover that pro-life is pro-woman. And with this new documentary, the web of lies and deception continues.
Finally, CNS published a June 1 column by someone who may have actually seen the film, Rev. Shenan Boquet of anti-abortion group Human Life International. He served up the usual attack on the film's director, snarking that Sweeney's "other film credits include such illuminating films as The Sex Robots are Coming and Transgender Kids Camp" -- telling us how little he thinks of transgender kids -- but he did concede that McCorvey's claim could "deliver a major blow to the pro-life cause."
Which, of course, is why he devoted a lot of space to downplay and undermine it. As far as the money, Boquet huffed: "McCorvey worked for two and a half decades in the pro-life movement. Like any spokesperson for any cause, she was paid for her speeches and other work. Viewed as a lump sum, the total dollar amount seems shocking; considered as payment for many years of work, it’s a non-event."
He then declared that "perhaps the best reason to question the film’s narrative is the testimony of the many pro-life leaders who spend endless hours with her, considered her a close friend, and who were in regular contact with her up to and, indeed, on the day she died," adding that "various pro-life leaders, many of whom spent countless hours with McCorvey, and with whom she even lived at various times, have reminisced fondly about the woman they knew. And regardless of any complexities of her feelings captured in the documentary, they strenuously dispute the notion that her pro-life conversion or activism was just an 'act.'"
Boquet finally declared that "In AKA Jane Roe, Sweeny [sic] tried to paint a sordid tale of a movement exploiting a woman, plying her with money to play a part for political gain. In reality, it was he who was exploiting her: releasing an ambiguous documentary designed to undermine her pro-life legacy, after her death, when she is unable to defend herself or clarify her words." Of course, Boquet very much has an incentive to attack Sweeney and his film and insist McCorvey's words couldn't possibly be her own.
WND joins in
WorldNetDaily didn't take news of the new documentary film on Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" plaintiff of the Roe v. Wade case that ultimately made abortion legal, very well since she states that she became an anti-abortion activist because she was paid to do so.
WND went into damage control quickly, with an anonymously written May 20 article (before the film was released) rehashing a Daily Caller item claiming that "people who spent years working with her scoffed at the idea." It featured Troy Newman of Operation Rescue -- which, if you'll recall, helped inspire Scott Roeder to murder an abortion doctor in Kansas -- pulling the old trick of attacking the filmmaker as having "no credibility because of his previous work, including titles 'Born in the Wrong Body,' 'Transgender Kids' and 'Sex robots.'"
However, WND largely ignored "AKA Jane Roe" after this, even though the film had finally become available. The only reference to it we could find was a May 26 column by Jerry Newcombe, who begins with the usual attempt to discredit: "It should be noted she was paid to appear in the FX documentary. Nick Sweeney, the documentary producer, has made movies about sex robots and girls becoming 'boys.'" Newcombe offered no evidence she was "paid to appear" in the film; Sweeney said he gave her a "modest licensing fee" to use family photos and video). Newcombe then called in Operation Rescue's Cheryl Sullenger -- who was sentenced to three years in prison for plotting to blow up an abortion clinic in the 1980s -- to handwave McCorvey's more damaging claims:
On my radio show, Sullenger added that the claim McCorvey received money from the pro-life movement proves nothing. Receiving honoraria for speaking engagements is a common practice, no matter one's politics.
Newcombe included by declaring that what McCorvey said doesn't really matter and that the anti-abortion narrative is more important:
Only God knows the heart. Norma McCorvey was a fiery, unpredictable woman with rough edges. But regardless of who was telling the truth between the Norma of 1995 and the Norma of 2016 (in that one interview), the realities of abortion, legalized in her court case, do not change. Abortion unjustly takes an innocent human life and does incredible damage to the mother. That's not a matter of changing opinions or the passage of time. That's a fact.
That's what one must do to stay on message when another, more compelling message runs counter to it.