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IN-PERSON BOOK TALK: The Family Roe: An American Story

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm
Registration is requested

IN-PERSON TICKETS | Members free and Visitors $10

LOCATION | The Boston Athenaeum, Henry Long Room

IN-PERSON BOOK TALK: The Family Roe: An American Story

Joshua Prager in conversation with J. Shoshanna Ehrlich

Despite her famous pseudonym, no one knows the truth about “Jane Roe,” Norma McCorvey (1947–2017), whose unwanted pregnancy in 1970 opened a great fracture in American life. Journalist Joshua Prager spent years with Norma, discovered her personal papers, a previously unseen trove, and witnessed her final moments. With an explosive revelation at the core of the case, he tells her full story for the first time.

Prager also traces Roe’s fifty-year trajectory through three compelling figures: feminist lawyer Linda Coffee, who filed the original Texas lawsuit yet now lives in obscurity; Curtis Boyd, a former fundamentalist Christian, today a leading provider of third-trimester abortions; and Mildred Jefferson, the first Black female Harvard Medical School graduate, who became a pro-life leader with great secrets.

Joshua Prager has written for Vanity Fair, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. A former Harvard Nieman Fellow, he is the author of The Echoing Green (a Washington Post Best Book of the Year) and lives in New Jersey.

J. Shoshanna Ehrlich is a scholar-activist whose long-standing interest in the legal regulation of reproduction and sexuality is woven into her teaching, scholarship, and advocacy work.  Her recent co-authored book, Abortion Regret: The New Attack on Reproductive Freedom, focuses on how the antiabortion movement is using the “abortion is bad for women,” trope to argue for increasing restrictions on abortion access. Her current project turns it gaze to the intersection of immigration law and reproductive rights to look at how the bodies of unaccompanied young women in federal immigration custody who seek to terminate a pregnancy have been constructed as doubly subversive based on the convergence of anti-immigrant and antiabortion sentiment.

PURCHASE The Family Roe from our partner, Harvard Book Store.


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Auto-generated captions are available for most virtual programs. To request live captioning or other accommodations, please contact Hannah Weisman at or 617-720-7617 at least four business days prior to the event.