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Wed 11/10, 2021, 6:00pm
Joshua Prager with Kiana Scott
The Family Roe

In the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade legal case, the United States Supreme Court voted 7-2 to affirm the right to get an abortion. Despite both the colossal impact of the case and her famous pseudonym, few know the full story of Norma McCorvey: the “Jane Roe” in Roe v. Wade.

Joshua Prager, a journalist with a penchant for writing about historical secrets, shares over a decade of meticulous research about McCorvey and a complex cast of characters in his new book, The Family Roe. Prager traces the past 50 years through four key figures: Linda Coffee, the critical but forgotten Texas lawyer who filed the original lawsuit and gave Jane Roe her name; Curtis Boyd, a former fundamentalist Christian who became a leading provider of third-trimester abortions; Mildred Jefferson, the first Black female Harvard Medical School graduate and a founder of the Right to Life Committee; and Norma McCorvey and her family, including the now-adult “Roe Baby” who was unknowingly at the center of the historic case.

McCorvey’s family history is messy and fraught with trauma, but it’s also human. As much as people might try to apply black-and-white thinking to McCorvey’s story, Prager aims to lead us to a place of empathy and consider ever-evolving questions of family, sex, and religion, with questions of politics and the law evolving right alongside them.

Joshua Prager is a former senior writer for The Wall Street Journal and has written about historical secrets for more than 20 years. In addition to The Family Roe, he is the author of The Echoing Green, which was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and 100 Years, a collaboration with legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser. Prager has spoken at venues including TED and Google. He was a Nieman fellow at Harvard and a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at Hebrew University.  He lives in New Jersey.

Kiana Scott is a strategic communications expert, development leader, and active civic volunteer with more than a decade of experience working at the intersection of politics, policy, and civic engagement. When not volunteering, she leads development and communications for CareerWork$, a workforce development nonprofit advancing economic equality for young adults. Kiana is a board member for the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, Vice President of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, and an elected Precinct Committee Officer. She holds a Ph.D. in political communication from UW.


Presented by Town Hall Seattle.

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