Jane Roe was a real woman, “but now she’s every woman,” says Jessica Goldstein. “She was pregnant in America when she didn’t want to be, and now she is invoked, on some level, whenever a woman in America becomes pregnant and doesn’t want to be.” But who was Jane Roe before she won Roe v. Wade in 1973, and who was she after, when she joined the religious right as an anti-abortion activist?
“Jane Roe was a woman. It’s easy to forget that, and what exactly that means, when you think about her as half of Roe v. Wade,” says Goldstein.
The story of Norma Corvey, aka Jane Roe, is at the center of Lisa Loomer’s play, Roe, which premiered at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., on January 12. Meanwhile, Sarah Weddington, a 26-years-old lawyer at the time she approached Norma about being the plaintiff in a case that would legalize abortion in America, is still fighting for abortion rights after serving three terms in the Texas House of Representatives, and becoming the first female General Counsel of U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well an assistant to President Jimmy Carter.
The play envisions the two women reunited for one night “to tell the story of the iconic legal battle and the resulting fallout,” in the present day.
Here, Goldstein speaks to Loomer about what prompted her to write the play and how the play offers a way of looking at the current divide in America in order to understand how “profoundly different the liberal and conservative approaches are.”