Fifty years ago this month, seven Chicago-area women were arrested and jailed on eleven counts of performing abortions and “conspiracy to commit abortion.“ They were members of a clandestine feminist network known as “Jane” that, for four years before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the US, helped women terminate their pregnancies. Their story—more relevant than ever, now that Roe’s protections are in imminent peril—is told in a new documentary, The Janes, that will premiere on HBO on June 8. But The Janes isn’t the first telling of the story. In 1995, a former Jane member, Laura Kaplan, published a history of the group, The Story of Jane: The Legendary Feminist Abortion Service. I read it a couple of weeks ago and recommend it to you. (I found it in my local public library.) Here’s a passage that could have been written today: “Women are being reduced, once again, to the incubators of future generations with total responsibility but no power. That is the same oppressive view that the women’s movement sought to challenge. It is not just abortion, but women’s power to control their destinies that is at stake.”
Related: My post about “choice.” And here’s Clyde Haberman’s 2018 “Retro Report” for the New York Times about Jane’s work in Chicago. Link has been de-paywalled.