“Jane Roe, III” by Karina Lutz

Issue 18 / Summer 2019 / Abortion Ban Protest Special Issue

a historical fiction
with apologies to Norma McCorvey (1947-2017),
for I, too, use you

day one


Yes, I was Jane Roe. Now you pat the covers around me smooth, my bed clean and dry for the meanwhile. Thank you, dear.

Yes, as that Jane Roe, I was a champion for women’s liberation; I was confused and wanted to be free to choose, and few know I chose to birth that child.

Thank you for coming, for comforting this old bag of bones.


day two


Thank you for coming back. Others, I think, have been avoiding me. My church, my friends, have abandoned me.

Sure, I’ll tell you more. You seem nice and modern, probably believe in abortion, no?

So, what happened next? After the Court, I was taken in by evangelists, became a poster girl for regret.

No, not the abortion—I never had one—but I regretted the case with my non-name on it, the millions of unborn since.

No, I wanted each of the children I bore, just had been afraid I couldn’t afford them, couldn’t keep them. I was young, alone, and poor. Now I’m old, alone, and poor!

What’s that you say, I am not alone? I’ve heard that before! But where are they?


day three


Oh you are so kind! Thank you for trying. But I’m not surprised. I’d heard my church had no more priests.

Tell you more? Okay, here’s the secret: I’ve been born a third time. Here in this blank-walled nursing home, I see. I see how the priests, too, seduced me with their devil’s smiles: their reward was not my salvation.

Both sides called the other the dark side; yet both sides had dark sides.

Used by lawyers with Supreme ambition, then used by priests with their ulterior motives, now I call out to nurses to be saved, pressing this awkward little button. And you answered.

They fed like catfish on my shame. They promised salvation, used my name in vain, and disappeared. So here I am, in rough sheets, in the stench of bleach, alone. Until a young woman sits beside my bed, and thanks me for my courage, for her freedom.

“It is done.”


Karina Lutz worked as a sustainable energy advocate for three decades. Earlier, she received an MSJ from Medill School of Journalism, and worked as an editor, reporter, and magazine publisher. She has two poetry collections forthcoming, Preliminary Visions and Post-Catholic Midrashim. The latter has more to say about motherhood and choice.



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