“Doctor Voynich and Her Children”: A critique on suppression of choice


Art by Riley Omonaka

Riley Omonaka, News Editor

“Doctor Voynich and Her Children” was a glimpse into a post-apocalyptic America. Divided by walls, ravaged by class inequality and on the brink of environmental collapse, the play took many jabs at the United States’ handling of current affairs.

 This last weekend, the Linfield University theater department put on a play that criticized the fall of Roe v. Wade. The message of “Doctor Voynich and Her Children” hit close to home for many of the cast and crew. 

“‘Doctor Voynich and Her Children’ deals with topics near and dear to me not only as a person assigned female at birth, but also as a queer individual. It deals heavily with the struggles of existing in a place that is hostile to you,” MJ Rinehart, who plays Doctor Voynich, said.

Roe v. Wade was a landmark Supreme Court case surrounding the rights of state governments to regulate abortion. In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled (7-2) that criminalizing abortions in most cases violated the Fourteenth Amendment. However, in February 2022, an opinion written by Justice Samuel A. Ali to Jr. was leaked that alluded to the Court’s looming decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Then, in June, they overturned it.

The effects of this decision were felt around the country. Each state adapted its local legislature differently in response to the monumental decision. The play ‘Doctor Voynich and Her Children’ is a prediction by the playwright Leanna Keyes about the after shocks this decision will have on the country in years to come.

The play features five female characters struggling in a society where their identities are oppressed and choices limited. In the play, Doctor Voynich and her apprentice do their best to provide health care to a community where the medicine of the future is provided to a wealthy few. Characters struggle with their morals when provided with few options and little education surrounding aborition. 

“I hope students take away the gravity of the situation. The way Ms. Keyes has written this show you can feel for every character, everyone thinks they are doing what’s right,” Margo Stewart, who plays Jess, said.”I hope students walked away from this more prepared to have real conversations about hard topics.”

“Doctor Voynich and Her Children” ended at Marshall Theater on Oct. 2. The next play at the venue will be “Firebringer,” from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12.