Jane Roe Makes 'Deathbed Confession' in Documentary, and Other Notes from the Week - Verily

We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were In”—Verily quick takes on the happenings of this week.

Documentary Claims Roe v. Wade Plaintiff Was Paid to Switch Sides

This week buzz grew around the woman whose unplanned pregnancy led to the watershed Supreme Court ruling, Roe v. Wade. Norma McCorvey, who died at age 69 in 2017, was 21 when she served as the plaintiff in the 1973 ruling legalizing abortion in the United States. In 1995, McCorvey became vocal supporter of the anti-abortion movement, but according to a new documentary called AKA Jane Roe, the pro-life switch was all an act. The documentary airing on FX today and streaming on Hulu Saturday, suggests McCorvey was bought out by the pro-life group Operation Rescue to act as if she was anti-abortion for decades. While McCorvey appears to have received funds from pro-life groups, it’s unclear whether they were speaker fees for representing pro-life causes, or the payoff the documentary suggests.

Anti-abortion advocates have responded with reactions ranging from disbelief to doubt. Many who say they were close to McCorvey in the anti-abortion movement or her church say she seemed sincerely pro-life to the end. Former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson has said McCorvey made a personal phonecall days before her death to talk to another person who would understand the weight of being responsible for a large number of abortions. “She was a fragile woman,” Johnson wrote on her Facebook page. “A woman whose life was riddled with heartache. She was shamelessly used by the abortion industry at a young age.”

Abortion advocates have responded in number as well. "Norma McCorvey led a very troubled life,” Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, was quoted in Business Insider. “She is responsible for her actions. But she was also exploited by men far more powerful whose aims were far more insidious."

So what did Norma McCorvey really think about abortion? It’s hard to say. What we do know is that the woman behind Roe—who at age 21 was plucked by, as she puts in the trailer, “these two attorneys were looking for a plaintiff to overturn the Texas abortion laws”—never appeared a day in court for the trial, gave her unplanned child for adoption, and stood very actively with abortion-opposing advocates since 1995. She did live a very troubled life and one that didn’t get easier as she became the public face of the most controversial ruling in America’s history. May she rest in peace. —Mary Rose Somarriba

Michigan Dam Failures Force 10,000 to Evacuate

A dam in Midland, Michigan ruptured this week, prompting thousands of individuals to evacuate their homes and leaving over nine feet of water flooding the city.

The state of Michigan, which has already been facing some of the worst Coronavirus outbreaks in the United States, declared an additional state of emergency. Governor Gretchen Whitmer has reflected on the incredibility of this “500-year event” in the midst of what has already seemed a once-in-a-lifetime event in not only the state, but the entire nation.

"It's hard to believe that we're in midst of a 100-year crisis, a global pandemic, and that we're also dealing with a flooding event that looks to be the worst in 500 years. But you know what, here's what I know: When the chips are down the people of Michigan are able to rise up. We're tough, we're smart, and we care about each other,” Whitmer said.

The company that operated the dam in question, the Edenville Dam, had its license revoked in 2018 for what the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission called “non-compliance issues that included spillway capacity—essentially an overflow valve—and the inability to pass the most severe flood reasonably possible in the area”, stating that the company had a “long history of non-compliance.”

Governor Whitmer has stated that she will be “aggressive” in seeking aid for the city of Midland and its residents. —Maggie Sicilia Bickerstaff

Melania Trump Delivers Remarks at Global Town Hall

CNN’s weekly Global Town Hall aired and streamed this Thursday night with a special focus this week on students and education. This town hall included pre-recorded remarks from Melania Trump, which is the First Lady’s first public statement since the onset of the pandemic.

Each weekly town hall ends with a positive message, with this week’s coming directly from the White House. The First Lady commended students for the sacrifices they’ve made, such as missing proms, graduations, and spring sports, and expressed her pride in the example this generation of students has become. She thanked students for the changes they’ve undergone as results of the pandemic, for their dedication to their studies and for the care and consideration they’ve shown for their neighbors.

She further encouraged students to take care of themselves during this pandemic, suggesting that they take this time to call their friends and family, read the book they’ve been meaning to read, and continue “being [their] best self.” The First Lady’s message to this nation’s students offered gratitude, admiration, and praise for “determination to get through this,” which will define their generation forever. —MSB

Tom Brady Gets Comfortable in Tampa

Tom Brady has been shaking things up in Tampa. The former New England Patriots quarterback, who signed a $50 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on March 20, led a passing workout at Berkeley Preparatory School on Tuesday with his new teammates shortly after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis softened quarantine restrictions in the state. The NFL took no issue with this, and the Buccaneers’ facilities are still closed.

This occurred a few weeks after the NFL star accidentally walked into the wrong house on the way to meet with the Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, stunning the homeowner. “Oh, my God, Tom Brady’s in my house,” the homeowner told TMZ. Brady apologized to the homeowners and tweeted about the incident. “Trespassing in parks, breaking and entering... Just making myself at home in Tompa Bay!” —Melanie Wilcox

Tesla Gets Green Light to Reopen in Fremont

After reaching a deal with local government officials in Alameda County, Tesla dropped its lawsuit that had challenged the county’s shelter-in-place order that forced the electric car company to cease vehicle production in Fremont County for about two months.

“Tesla makes the safest cars in the world & our factory injury rates better than industry avg & tracking to be better than any auto plant in North America,” Musk, the founder and CEO at Tesla, tweeted on May 14. “We care deeply about safety at a fundamental level.”

Leading up to the lawsuit dismissal, Tesla had already restarted production against County rules. In a tweet, Musk asked that if anyone got arrested, it would only be him and no one else. He also threatened to relocate its Fremont factory to either Texas or Nevada if arrangements were not made. —MW

World Demands Investigation into COVID-19 Response

After months of criticisms leveled at the World Health’s Organization’s potential mishandling of the global pandemic, more than 100 countries are calling for an independent investigation into the measures taken by the international public health agency to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

Indeed, countries across the globe have begun questioning WHO’s relationship to China and how it has affected its response to the virus which spread throughout the People’s Republic before appearing in other countries. Critics point to China’s intriguing relationship to the WHO’s director General Tedros Adhanom, whom the nation reportedly supported in the 2017 WHO election that won him his current position. Tedros, for his part, declared quickly after this electoral victory that WHO would continue to support the notorious “One China” policy. What’s more, in news some believe to be related, China’s funding of WHO has increased exponentially in recent years. As a result, there are those who suspect that Tedros’s allegedly biased leadership led WHO to dismiss COVID-19 concerns early in the game, while China was still denying the seriousness of the disease and punishing domestic whistle-blowers.

China, for its part, has expressed distaste at the idea of an investigation into their own alleged wrongdoings, though Chinese President Xi Jinping announced earlier this week that he will support an “impartial” review of the global COVID-19 response. He also defended China against accusations of political corruption, telling those at the videoconferenced WHO assembly that, "all along, we have acted with openness, transparency and responsibility.” —Mariel Lindsay

Kendall Jenner to Pay $90,000 in Fyre Festival Lawsuit

Model and social media personality Kendall Jenner has settled a lawsuit regarding her involvement in the infamous 2017 Fyre Festival.

The music festival that couldn’t, Fyre Festival captivated Americans two years ago as the stories of the fraudulent festival went viral in documentaries on both Netflix and Hulu. Jenner, 24, was reportedly paid $275,000 to promote the festival on her Instagram page, saying Fyre Festival “would be filled with famous models on an exotic private island with ‘first-class culinary experiences and a luxury atmosphere.’”

More of Jenner’s ambiguous Instagram captions led followers to believe that hip hop star, and Jenner’s brother-in-law Kanye West would be performing at the festival, displaying what attorneys called “a clear lack of good faith.”

Jenner will pay $90,000 for promoting the hoax, and Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland remains in prison serving a six-year sentence for fraud. —MSB

Good News of the Week

Rob’s father left his family when Rob was 12 years old, and now, to help others who’ve experienced this, Rob has created the YouTube channel called, Dad, How Do I?.

The channel provides practical “dadvice” on how to do things like tie a tie, change a tire, and shave your face for individuals who just need a little fatherly advice. With the absence of his own father in mind, Rob created the channel in the hopes of being for other kids the role model he didn’t have growing up.

Rob has raised two adult children, one of whom shared about Dad, How do I? on social media, which helped the channel skyrocket to the 1.4 million (and counting!) subscribers it has today. —MSB

Watch of the Week

In one of the videos on the “Dad, How Do I” channel mentioned above, Rob posts tips on “How to Be Good To Yourself”—including some wise tips for the challenging days we're living in. 

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