Madeline Burrows

Theater: ‘MOM BABY GOD’ seeks new ways to talk about abortion

Theater artist Madeline Burrows explored anti-abortion rights meetings to make a pro-abortion rights play

By REBECCA WAITS

In 2011, the U. S. House of Representatives attempts to completely defund Planned Parenthood were followed by a record-number of 92 new state restrictions on abortion. In 2012, there were 43. Forty years after Roe v. Wade, playwright and reproductive rights activist Madeline Burrows found herself looking at these numbers and wondering two things: First, how have we lost so much ground in the struggle for health care and equal access? And second, what can we do to fight back?

This line of inquiry lead Burrows into a curious journalistic endeavor: She spent a year undercover, posing as a young pro-life activist, to infiltrate and research a right-wing “underground” of sorts, the pro-life youth movement. This journey included visits to Crisis Pregnancy Centers, anti-abortion church rallies, and interviews with anti-choice activists, priests, and teenage video bloggers.

Madeline Burrows in "MOM BABY GOD"

Madeline Burrows in “MOM BABY GOD”

The result of this work is MOM BABY GOD, a one-woman show that “explores how girls develop a sense of self and sexuality amidst the ongoing political backlash against feminism and reproductive rights.”

Crafted as a way to invite (mostly) left-wing audiences into a right-wing universe, the show centers on Burrows as a kind of shape-shifting tour guide who leads us through this world in the form of seven different characters who come from an anti-choice (or “pro-life,” the nomenclature itself is so heavy with politics) perspective–though mostly our view comes through the eyes of Jessica Beth Giffords, “a peppy, Justin Bieber-obsessed 15-year-old and zealous anti-abortion video blogger,” as she navigates the vaguely-fictionalized Students for Life of America Conference.

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