For those who are unaware, the 1973 case of Roe vs. Wade was a controversial trial that lead to a landmark decision and national debate regarding abortion in the United States. Roe vs. Wade, along with a companion case, Doe. vs. Bolton, ruled that “the right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th amendment” extended to a woman’s right to have an abortion (with stipulations that you can read about here). The case started in 1970 and ended three years later with a vote of 7-2.
It all began with one pregnant (for the third time, homeless, uneducated & divorced) woman – identified during the trial as “Jane Roe” but better known now as Norma McCorvey – looking to have an abortion, pretending she was raped in order to do so legally (which she falsely believed was a provision), being refused, seeking an illegal abortion, ultimately failing, and eventually being taken on by Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington – two American lawyers and members of the Texas House of Representatives. Roe ended up having and giving her baby up for adoption (as she did with her previous two children) before the trial was over. It should also be mentioned that she never once appeared in court during the proceedings, and that she has – since 1995 – adamantly fought to overturn the Roe vs. Wade case that she played an instrumental part in helping to win. She claims to not have really understood what abortion was at the time and has since become a pro-life Christian.
Two major organizations that erupted from this case were the National Abortion Rights Action League and the National Right To life Committee. The Roe vs. Wade case ignited a national and international pro-choice vs pro-life debate, and marked a strong division and stance between the two.
You may be wondering why a woman who played such an important role in such a significant fight and has since worked to undo said role/fight is a muse at all, so let us tell you – the story of Jane Roe is complicated, and that means it’s genuine. It’s human, and that is what we seek to show our audiences with The Muddy Mary Project: complicated, genuine people in complicated, genuine situations. Roe’s story sparked and continues to spark conversation. Most importantly to us, it questions instead of answers, and that is something we will continuously strive to do with the theatre we create and present.