Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case, has died

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This 21 January, 1998, file photo shows Norma McCorvey, the woman at the center of the US Supreme Court ruling on abortion, as she testifies before a US Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee during hearings on the 25th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Credit: Chris Kleponis/AFP/Getty Images

DALLAS — Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” at the center of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, has died. She was 69.

Journalist Joshua Prager, who is working on a book about McCorvey, says she died Saturday morning at an assisted living center in Katy, Texas.

A priest close to the family, Rev. Frank Pavone, released a statement Saturday, saying, “Norma has been a friend of mine, and of Priests for Life, for more than 20 years. She was victimized and exploited by abortion ideologues when she was a young woman but she came to be genuinely sorry that a decision named for her has led to the deaths of more than 58 million children.”

Although McCorvey was the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, she later became active in the movement against abortion rights.

McCorvey began her association with one of the United States’ most contentious and volatile sociopolitical issues in 1970, when she became the lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit filed to challenge the strict anti-abortion laws in Texas.

The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which handed down its controversial ruling on January 22, 1973. The decision legalized the right to an abortion in all 50 states and sparked a political debate that remains charged to this day.

However, McCorvey, who was on her third pregnancy, never had an abortion and gave birth to a girl, who was given up for adoption.