Norma McCorvey's profound influence over American culture is more than evident. McCorvey, who was the plaintiff in the infamous Roe. v. Wade case that legalized abortion across the U.S., started off as a pro-choice activist and later shocked the world by becoming a fixture in the pro-life movement.
McCorvey's change-of-heart came after she had a very public conversion to Christianity and began to openly oppose abortion, an about-face that stunned people on both sides of the aisle.
Though McCorvey died in 2017, she has dominated headlines this week ahead of the release of FX's "AKA Jane Roe" documentary. The reason? The film has sparked claims that McCorvey's pro-life inclinations were all an act — something well-known pro-life activists are decrying.
Promos for the documentary seem to indicate that McCorvey made some shocking claims during the filming: mainly, that she was paid and coached on what to say during her pro-life tenure.
"I was the big fish. I think it was a mutual thing," she said in "AKA Jane Roe." "I took their money and they'd put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say."
She also seemed to say that she was a "good actress" and that it was all some sort of act. While the nation debates McCorvey's life and legacy, people like Flip Benham, a preacher who knew McCorvey both before and after her public conversion to Christianity, are speaking out.
"Norma and I were wrestling with each other verbally in the streets for a long, long time," Benham told "The Church Boys" podcast on Thursday.
Benham was the director of Operation Rescue, a pro-life organization, when he first met McCorvey in 1994. At the time, she was working at an abortion clinic.
Their paths collided when Operation Rescue moved next door to McCorvey's clinic. But things really kicked into high gear when Benham showed up at McCorvey's book signing with a pointed message.
"Norma was having a book signing. When I saw her coming in ... I said, 'Norma McCorvey, as a result of your life and this law, over 35 million boys and girls have been slaughtered in this country,'" Benham recalled. "She turned around and she walked out ... I saw that that crushed her and in my heart I knew that I needed to say something to her."
He later apologized to McCorvey, and the two struck up a friendship. He said she soon started to come by to ask for prayer. Over time, that friendship blossomed, as McCorvey dove deeper and deeper into the pro-life pool.
Despite the documentary's purported claims, Benham believes McCorvey was truly pro-life, and he revealed a plethora of details about their friendship. While he painted McCorvey as a complex person, he didn't back away from his belief that her general pro-life inclinations were authentic.
"She loved us. We loved her," he said. "I don't know how to explain her other than the fact that God uses broken things."
Benham, who also appears in "AKA Jane Roe," is not the only person to push back against the claim that McCorvey was simply acting, as other friends have also been outspoken that her conversion was real.
Plus, pro-life advocate Abby Johnson revealed on Facebook that she spoke with McCorvey just days before her death and she believes the former "Roe" plaintiff was sincere in her convictions.
"Her many years as a dedicated prolife advocate was not a lie. Her tearful conversation (which I will keep private) with me days before her death was not a lie," Johnson wrote. "The hours she spent praying in front of abortion facilities was not a lie. Her life with Christ was not a lie."
The story continues to unfold, so stay tuned. And be sure to also watch "Beautiful Lives," hosted by pro-life advocate Abby Johnson. The series explores the experiences of former abortion industry workers who have survived – and thrived – after abandoning their past work and finding true hope.