Roe v. Wade is a Dallas thing. It all started in North Texas 52 years ago with a district attorney who sued abortion laws and a woman who saw it as unfair.
This is a federal court case and it was first argued in Dallas, at 400 North Ervay Street, on the third floor of what was a federal house at the time.
The 400 North Ervay building is now a 78-unit apartment complex with a restaurant and post office in the lobby. This courtroom is a living room for apartment residents and sometimes a venue for events.
Plaintiff Jane Roe in 1970 was actually Norma McCorvey who told NBC 5 23 years later of her motivation at the time to pursue the case.
“All I wanted was to have an abortion, plain and simple. I found out abortion was illegal. I was appalled. I was hurt,” she said.
The accused was Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade, who enforced the Texas abortion ban that was in effect at the time.
The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. By the time the 1973 ruling came in her favor, the child she intended to abort had been adopted and was 2½ years old.
Over the years, McCorvey let go of her hidden identity and went public, first speaking out on women’s rights. The windows of his house were knocked down.
On one occasion she spoke with Henry Wade.
Along the way, she instead sided with abortion haters. She was baptized by a declared opponent of abortion. She counseled women on difficult life decisions, including abortion. She claimed to be a reborn Christian.
“I’ve been looking for someone to guide me for a long time. And I just decided I’m going to do something nice for Norma,” she told NBC 5 on one occasion with the abortion opponent.
At the Ervay courthouse, his original attorneys were Sara Weddington and Linda Coffee.
Only coffee is still alive. She spoke with NBC5 in May and said she was concerned that the few states where abortion will still be allowed could cause hardship for women, especially low-income ones seeking to terminate a pregnancy.
“A lot of women don’t have enough money to go from here to California or from here to New York,” Coffee said.
His client, Norma McCorvey, died in 2017. Towards the end of her life, McCorvey said she still believed abortion should be available in some cases, despite her previous alliance with anti-abortion activists.