(CNN) -- Norma McCorvey, known as "Jane Roe" in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case that established a constitutional right to abortion, has died, according to a priest close to the family.
The Rev. Frank Pavone, an anti-abortion rights activist, released a statement Saturday, saying, "Norma has been a friend of mine, and of Priests for Life, for more than 20 years. She was victimized and exploited by abortion ideologues when she was a young woman but she came to be genuinely sorry that a decision named for her has led to the deaths of more than 58 million children."
McCorvey had become active in the movement against abortion rights after the US Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade in 1973.
She began her association with one of the United States' most contentious and volatile sociopolitical issues in 1970, when she became the lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit filed to challenge the strict anti-abortion laws in Texas.
The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which handed down its controversial ruling on January 22, 1973. The decision legalized the right to an abortion in all 50 states and sparked a political debate that remains charged to this day.
However, McCorvey, who was on her third pregnancy, never had an abortion and gave birth to a girl, who was given up for adoption.