Evangelist Dr. Alveda King weighed in on the controversy surrounding the alleged deathbed confession of Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) in an interview with Fox News on Thursday and said the idea of her acting as a hired gun or paid "mercenary" for the Christian right is a complete falsehood.
McCorvey, 69, passed away from heart failure in 2017, but posthumously made headlines this week as FX prepares to release a documentary about her life titled: AKA Jane Roe. It is set to premiere on Friday, according to The Guardian.
King, who works with Priests for Life and is the niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., spoke with Fox News about her friendship with McCorvey, who was the plaintiff in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion
King lamented the politicization of the American icon's personal struggles after news broke that McCorvey had confessed to accepting lavish financial gifts, in exchange for her public support of Christianity and her embrace of the pro-life movement. "It's sad," she told Fox News. "She was a lovely friend. I miss her."
The Guardian story claimed McCorvey, who never actually had an abortion and gave her three children up for adoption, told the filmmakers, “I took their money and they’d put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. That’s what I’d say. I did it well too, I am a good actress.”
The article also claimed she'd received $450,000 in gifts from the pro-life movement to switch sides, so she could help them push their political agenda.
King, who had two abortions in her youth before becoming a staunch pro-life advocate, released a video of her own on YouTube Thursday, refuting the documentary's narrative about McCorvey.
King's voice is heard reading quotes from an article she wrote for Newsmax that was published on Thursday.
"Shameful fake news would have us believe that Norma McCorvey was a mercenary. Nothing could be further from the truth," she said. "For those of us who knew and loved Norma, we know that at the end, Norma loved God, and Norma loved life.
"Fake news baited and switched on Norma just before her death," King continued. "According to the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, Norma wrote to him saying that she'd been booked for an interview for 'AKA Jane Roe.' Norma was so excited; they promised to let her tell her story; and told her they would pay her for it. From my personal perspective, they interviewed Norma and took her words out of context."
She added, "Norma McCorvey's conversion to Christianity in 1995 led her to become one of the most devoted pro-life advocates of our times. Her pro-life testimony is truly a gift of love."
Fox News reached out to Fr. Pavone and he stood by King's claims. He said Norma was like a sibling to him and was prone to emotional mood swings due to trauma from her past. However, he maintained that she never lost her foundational beliefs in God or lost sight of the moral implications of abortion.
"I spoke to her almost every day," he told Fox News. "I became like a close brother to her for 22 years. I was her main guide in her process of healing and her involvement in the pro-life movement. We worked together professionally and we became personal friends. We knew everything about Norma. She was completely transparent with me."
Pavone also said the idea that McCorvey's statement was a "deathbed" confession is another falsity, being peddled by a biased media. He claims to have text messages from her, during the time of the film's production, to support his story.
"She told me about this documentary during the days that it was happening. It wasn't a deathbed thing," he explained. "She died in February of 2017. [Nick Sweeney] was filming her in May of 2016. So this notion that's being created that somehow before she left this world she decided to finally tell the whole truth, is a bunch of hogwash. She and I were in communication."
He added, "You don't get to know Norma from an interview even if you interview her multiple time. We knew her ups and downs. We were never surprised by anything she said. That's how she vented. She did not change her mind about abortion. She was not play-acting. You couldn't play-act. It was a deep journey of pain. She shed violent tears in confidential settings. We knew her better than any documentary person could."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also highlighted the story on social media this week and condemned the pro-life movement as a "scam."
"Wow: Norma McCorvey (aka “Roe” of Roe v Wade) revealed on her deathbed that she was paid by right-wing operatives to flip her stance on reproductive rights," AOC tweeted Tuesday. "So, like many right-wing operations, it turns out a huge part of the anti-choice movement was a scam the entire time."
Fox News reached out to Adrienne D'Amato, who serves as FX's director of media relations, about the assertions made by King and Pavone and she provided a statement from director Nick Sweeney.
"Norma willingly participated in the making of this film. This was, in her words, her 'deathbed confession.' Her words were not taken out of context or manipulated in any way," he wrote. "Others in the film, including Rev. Rob Schenck, confirm her story. As is standard practice, we licensed the rights to personal photos from Norma for a nominal fee (a few dozen photos at $50 per photo)."
He added, "My only goal with the film was to let Norma tell her own story. I hope those who watch it will see that we don't shy away from the complexities and contradictions that made Norma who she was."
Pavone replied to Sweeney's statement, saying, "We know all that already, and we still know her better. Every time she took part in a film project she came to me frequently. She always insisted on reviewing the final product. Did she get to review this one? She obviously didn't because of her death. I don't think he got her signoff on that."
Fox News' Louis Casiano contributed to this report