The filmmakers behind the FX documentary “AKA Jane Roe” have falsely suggested that the pro-life movement paid Norma McCorvey — “Jane Roe” of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States — over $450,000 to defect to the pro-life side. These same filmmakers failed to declare potential conflicts of interest and disclose their own abortion bias as well as their previous ties to Planned Parenthood. They also failed to speak with numerous pro-life leaders and close friends of McCorvey for the film, and instead took the word of the once pro-life, now pro-abortion Rev. Rob Schenck. This false narrative suggested that any compensation McCorvey received for sharing her pro-life conversion and opposition to abortion was ‘proof’ that McCorvey never converted but was instead paid off.
Examples of these misleading claims in the media include The Daily Beast headline: “Jane Roe’s Deathbed Confession: Anti-Abortion Conversion ‘All an Act’ Paid for by the Christian Right,” as well as the UK Daily Mail headline: “Evangelical reverend ADMITS he paid ‘Jane Roe’ $450,000 – including handfuls of $100 bills – because she was a ‘symbol anti-abortion movement could not afford to lose.'”
Schenck’s accusation of the alleged “pay-off” elevated him to hero status by the filmmakers who then quickly — and without apparent confirmation — rushed to paint pro-lifers as the villains. Meanwhile, if any wrongdoing or unethical conduct had occurred, it was Schenck and Schenck alone who has openly admitted to doing it. He told the Daily Mail, “I had an organization called Faith and Action and we cut checks to Norma McCorvey — quite a few checks over the years.”
Schenck’s own non-profit 990 tax forms do not confirm that Schenck legally contributed to McCorvey’s charity — something FX filmmakers failed to clarify. Live Action News spoke to Peggy Nienaber, who worked with Schenck for 15 years. She described McCorvey as a woman who “lived a life that was complex, full of twists and turns” and who regularly spoke about her guilt over Roe v. Wade. “The Pro-Life Movement did not use Norma. They respected her and supported her through her trials and were joyful of her conversion to Christ,” Nienaber told Live Action News.
Nienaber pointed out that Schenck’s organization sometimes invited multiple speakers to D.C. and would, like any other charity, compensate them for expenses. “I remember Norma being paid as we did for all our speakers, pastors, and guests. Our guest speakers would often have expenses paid such as hotel, travel, meals, etc. I personally did not handle finances at the time but it was not unusual to compensate speakers for time and efforts,” Nienaber said.
So, how did FX filmmakers draw their conclusion that pro-life groups paid McCorvey off?
The filmmakers focused solely on gross receipts filed by McCorvey’s ministry, Roe No More Ministry, Inc., shown in the images below. Simply put, to get to the $450,000 figure, FX tallied up “gross receipts” from 1998 to 2006 (nine years), using tax documents (990 forms) filed by McCorvey’s non-profit. Gross receipts are total contributions to a non-profit. This money is then spent on a variety of expenses and programs including individual compensation.
Live Action News discovered that although McCorvey left the abortion industry in 1995, her non-profit wasn’t formed until years later. This alone contradicts published claims that say she was paid to leave the abortion movement.
Below are gross receipts by year:
- 1998: $30,354
- 1999: $54,915
- 2000: $56,645
- 2001: $55,717
- 2002: $69,258
- 2003: $59,070
- 2004: $59,267
- 2005: $34,787
- 2006: $43,938
These gross receipts total $456,911 from 1998 to 2006, as listed on the Part IVA Support Schedule of the 990s (example below.) FX did not include gross receipts for 2007, (which totaled $35,546) since, in the 2007 document, this would have been shown on a separate line and not under the previous year’s section.
Gross receipts are not the same as compensation. These documents clearly indicate that between 2001 and 2007 — a period of seven years — just $143,205 in compensation was paid to McCorvey from her ministry.
- 1998: N/A
- 1999: N/A
- 2000: N/A
- 2001: Compensated $24,186
- 2002: Compensated $19,546
- 2003: Compensated $18,800
- 2004: Compensated $34,181
- 2005: Compensated $14,827
- 2006: Compensated $20,648
- 2007: Compensated $11,017
The 990 forms on file begin in 2001, and although they include gross receipts for previous years, (see above Support Schedule) they do not include compensation for these years.
Other forms of income to McCorvey outside her ministry may include compensation from Thomas Nelson Publishing for rights to tell McCorvey’s conversion story as well as possible honoraria, which speakers on both sides of the abortion debate regularly receive.
While FX filmmakers went out of their way to focus on any donations or compensation McCorvey received from pro-lifers, they looked aside when it came to the possibility that the abortion industry may have done similar things. Biographer Joshua Prager discovered that before McCorvey became pro-life:
- Feminist pro-abortion attorney Gloria Allred “arranged for McCorvey to get lessons in public speaking.”
- Funds from a brunch “had gone directly to McCorvey; the amount was never disclosed,” according to information Allred provided a Los Angeles Herald Examiner reporter.
- An undisclosed compensation was provided to McCorvey by Harper Collins to publish McCorvey’s first book, “I am Roe.”
- McCorvey received compensation from NBC for a movie about Roe v. Wade: “The network paid her 60 percent of 5 percent of the film’s gross; as of 2003, the film had earned her $10,613.”
- Two pro-abortion non-profits were set up for McCorvey: Jane Roe Foundation and Jane Roe Women’s Center.
A 1992 LA Times report indicates NBC paid “McCorvey and her two lawyers $90,000, with McCorvey getting 60%.” In her book “I Am Roe,” McCorvey acknowledges this and adds that she was also paid option money of $3,000 as well as consultant fees of $35 an hour. But McCorvey reveals serious pay inequity between what she was paid and what her pro-abortion attorneys received. Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee used McCorvey to file the infamous Roe v. Wade lawsuit, then later abandoned her. Weddington and Coffee received a consulting fee of $125 an hour from NBC.
Whether or not McCorvey recanted her pro-life position as claimed in the film is still in dispute since the filmmakers have not released the unedited footage. In the end, “AKA Jane Roe” will not go down as a historical documentary about a very complex person, it will go down as the poorly researched pro-abortion biased hit piece that it is.
Simply put, the jig is up on this film’s deception.
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