Rediscover: The Story of Jane

The Abortion Counseling Service, otherwise known as the Jane Collective or simply Jane, was an illegal abortion network affiliated with the Chicago Women's Liberation Union that operated between 1969 and 1973. The group initially referred women to male doctors, but soon discovered one such practitioner had lied about his medical experience. Realizing the procedure did not require extensive medical training, members of Jane began doing it themselves. The group performed an estimated 11,000 abortions, primarily for low-income women who could not travel to places where the procedure was legal. Seven members of Jane were arrested after a raid in 1972. Their lawyer, aware of the upcoming Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade, delayed court proceedings until abortion was legalized. All charges were dropped and the Jane Collective disbanded.

In 1995, former Jane Collective member Laura Kaplan wrote The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service. Her book inspired the HBO documentary The Janes, directed by Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes, which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is streaming on HBO Max. In a post-Roe world, Kaplan's book is more important than ever. On October 25, The Story of Jane will be reissued in paperback by Vintage ($18). --Tobias Mutter

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