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US Supreme Court did not rule to legalize abortion because ‘Jane Roe’ was raped

June 4, 2019 GMT

CLAIM: “Did you know Roe v. Wade was passed only because Roe lied about being raped? She admitted it on live TV.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The U.S. Supreme Court did not consider how “Jane Roe” became pregnant when making its landmark decision in 1973.  

THE FACTS: The caption on a video spreading on social media wrongly suggests that the Supreme Court ruled to legalize abortion because Norma McCorvey, who was known as “Jane Roe” in the lawsuit, claimed to have been raped. 

The video, which features edited clips of McCorvey talking about her life, highlights a 1987 interview with WUSA-TV where she admits to fabricating the rape as she sought an abortion in 1969 because she believed it would help her get access to the procedure. 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. The video, which has been posted to Facebook before, recirculated in recent weeks as state legislatures across the country passed new restrictions on abortion procedures. 

Whether or not McCorvey had been raped is not mentioned in the court’s majority or dissenting opinions. And the Supreme Court has not weighed in on restricting or legalizing abortions based on why a woman seeks the procedure, said Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University who has written extensively about the ruling. 

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program:


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.