Jane Collective

“The Jane Collective or Jane, officially known as the Abortion Counseling Service of Women’s Liberation, was an underground service in Chicago, Illinois affiliated with the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union that operated from 1969 to 1973, a time when abortion was illegal in most of the United States. The foundation of the organization was laid when Heather Booth helped her friend’s sister obtain a safe abortion in 1965. Other women with unwanted pregnancies began to contact Booth after learning via word-of-mouth that she could help them. When the workload became more than what she could manage, she reached out to other activists in the women’s liberation movement. The collective sought to address the increasing number of unsafe abortions being performed by untrained providers. Since illegal abortions were not only dangerous but very expensive, the founding members of the collective believed that they could provide women with safer and more affordable access to abortions. Initially, the organization directed the women to male doctors. After a few years, however, they learned that one of their most-used doctors had lied about having medical credentials. This created a conflict in the group, causing some members to leave. Others realized that if a man without medical credentials could perform a safe abortion, then they could learn as well. A few of their number learned how to perform surgical abortions, with the dilation and curettage method most commonly used. Members of the group performed an estimated 11,000 abortions, mostly to low-income women who could not afford to travel to the places where abortion was legal, as well as women of color. In 1972, one of the Jane Collective apartments was raided by the police, and seven of its members were arrested. Each was charged with eleven counts of abortion and conspiracy to commit abortion, carrying a maximum prison sentence of 110 years. Their attorney was able to delay court proceedings in anticipation of the Supreme Court‘s decision on Roe v. Wade. As the attorney hoped, the Court’s decision in Roe in 1973 struck down many abortion restrictions in the US, and the charges against the Jane Collective members were dropped. As women now had access to legal abortion, the Collective disbanded shortly afterwards. While their abortions sometimes resulted in complications, none of their clients were known to die from their abortions.  …”
NY Times – Code Name Jane: The Women Behind a Covert Abortion Network (Video)
How to Run a Back-Alley Abortion Service
9 Older Women Share Their Harrowing Back Alley Abortion Stories
NPR: Before ‘Roe v. Wade,’ The Women of ‘Jane’ Provided Abortions For The Women Of Chicago (Audio)
Comic: The Story of the Jane Collective, the Women Who Started an Illegal Abortion Service

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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