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Monique Curet
By Monique Curet May 6, 2022

Contrary to claim, rape never mentioned in Roe v. Wade proceedings and did not form basis of case

If Your Time is short

The U.S. Supreme Court did not consider the circumstances of plaintiff Jane Roe’s pregnancy when ruling on the landmark case in 1973. An alleged rape was never mentioned in court or in the court’s ruling. 

With Roe v. Wade back in the headlines, a previously debunked claim that the landmark case hinged on a lie is again being shared on social media timelines.

"Roe v. Wade happened because a woman lied about being raped by black men," says a May 3 post on Facebook. It also says "Where’s BLM?"

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

But the Supreme Court did not consider the circumstances of the plaintiff’s pregnancy when ruling on the case. The plaintiff was identified during the proceedings by the pseudonym Jane Roe and later publicly revealed her real name, Norma McCorvey.

"The U.S. Supreme Court did not consider how ‘Jane Roe’ became pregnant when making its landmark decision in 1973," the Associated Press reported in 2019. And McCorvey’s lawyers "never mentioned an alleged rape in court, and it formed no part of their legal argument," Vanity Fair wrote in 2013.

The 66-page ruling from the Supreme Court does not mention Roe’s claim of rape. When describing Roe, the ruling says she "alleged that she was unmarried and pregnant; that she wished to terminate her pregnancy by an abortion ‘performed by a competent, licensed physician, under safe, clinical conditions;’ that she was unable to get a ‘legal’ abortion in Texas because her life did not appear to be threatened by the continuation of her pregnancy; and that she could not afford to travel to another jurisdiction in order to secure a legal abortion under safe conditions."

McCorvey initially told reporters she had been raped but admitted in a 1987 interview that she "fabricat(ed) the rape as she sought an abortion in 1969 because she believed it would help her get access to the procedure," the AP reported.  "Abortion was illegal in Texas then, except to save a woman’s life. She continued to tell the untrue story as her case attracted national attention."

Accounts of McCorvey’s story in mainstream, credible publications do not mention the race of the alleged attacker.

When McCorvey revealed in 1987 that she had not been raped, the New York Times reported at that time, "The assertion of rape was not a factor in the Supreme Court's ruling."

The AP also noted in 2019 that "the Supreme Court has not weighed in on restricting or legalizing abortions based on why a woman seeks the procedure."

After the post was shared on Facebook, it was tagged with a 2018 fact check, indicating that it contained false information. The person who shared the post on Facebook commented, "This is not false information. Her story about being raped led to the case. Facebook fact checkers are flat out lying. This is disgusting."

But the rape allegation did not lead to the court case; McCorvey’s desire to terminate the pregnancy is what led to the legal proceedings.

As the AP reported this week about Roe v. Wade, "The question before the U.S. Supreme Court was: Does the Constitution recognize a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy by abortion?"

Our ruling

A Facebook post says, "Roe v. Wade happened because a woman lied about being raped by black men."

But the allegation of rape was not taken into consideration during the case. The Supreme Court did not consider the circumstances of the plaintiff’s pregnancy, and the court’s ruling does not mention Roe’s claim of rape.

McCorvey’s lawyers did not mention the alleged rape in court and did not include it in their legal argument.

McCorvey’s desire to terminate the pregnancy — not her allegation of rape — is what led to the Roe v. Wade legal proceedings.

We rate this claim False. 

 

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Contrary to claim, rape never mentioned in Roe v. Wade proceedings and did not form basis of case

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