In 1965, before American women had the constitutional right to choose an abortion, a 19-year-old University of Chicago student helped a friend find a doctor willing to perform an abortion illegally.
Heather Booth was contacted by many more soon after as desperate women put their own lives at risk by seeking a back alley termination. She quickly realized the need for services that she couldn’t handle alone.
So Jane Collective was formed: an underground network of women helping other women facing unwanted pregnancies find safe abortions. Eventually, some members learned enough to perform the procedures themselves.
The landmark ruling in 1973 was called Roe v Wadewhich legalized abortion in the United States.
Rape victims, women who put their lives at risk by pregnancy, single mothers who can’t afford another child, young women who lack birth control education – no judgment. Women don’t have to justify why they don’t want to get pregnant.
Now, Janes’ story is being told in a new film, Call Jane, starring Elizabeth BanksSigourney Weaver and Wunmi Mosaku.
Banks plays Joey, the wife and mother of a teenage daughter who discovers that her much-wanted second pregnancy is life-threatening. She meets the Janes when a board of male doctors refuses to terminate, telling Joy that she must take her chance, desperate and scared.
The film has been in the making for several years, but with U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in early 2022 (Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation) – which paved the way for the practice to be severely restricted or banned entirely in half of the US – its release seems timely.
“It’s very, very dangerous”
There was a time when every state in the US had anti-abortion laws. Critics of the law have accused authorities of punishing women for not managing their sexuality and fertility in ways approved by the government, law enforcement and medical and religious institutions.
Many women don’t know where to go for help, or are too ashamed or afraid to ask. Some are too poor or terrified after hearing stories of horrific back alleys and self-abortion.
A year before Janes was founded, a Connecticut woman named Gerri Santoro died while attempting an illegal abortion. Her photo became a symbol of the abortion rights movement.
In Chicago, Illinois, Janes changed everything.
Call Jane producer Robbie Brenner consulted some of the original Janes when making the film. “It’s very, very dangerous,” she said. “Their way of thinking was out of the box. What they did, and what they ended up doing in a relatively short period of time, was nothing short of revolutionary.”
“Abortion is not controversial – restricting the right to abortion is”
For Banks, who is best known for starring in the “Hunger Games” and “Pitch Perfect” films, playing Joey is more than just a role. As head of the Creative Council of the American Center for Reproductive Rights Philanthropies, abortion rights are an issue she is passionate about.
While promoting the film in the UK, she told Sky News that she took issue with abortion being a controversial topic.
“In fact, the majority of voters in the United States — and apparently in the United Kingdom — support safe and legal abortion,” she said. “We represent the opinion of the majority, and that opinion is not too controversial.
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“I do think there’s a lot of talk about it right now, of course, because of our Supreme Court and Dobbs decision.
“But I always warn people not to create a scene where we talk about abortion as if the abortion side is the controversial side; the controversial side is the reason why women are not allowed to get the safe, legal abortion healthcare they need. That’s what’s being debated, and that right is being cut.
‘We don’t have to justify it’ – how Lily Allen supports choice
Following Dobbs’ ruling, opponents of the decision cited numerous examples of women who might need abortions — rape, life-threatening situations, harm to babies.
But some, including singer Lily Allen, questioned why women must justify the process.
say you had an abortionThe star, mother of two daughters, wrote on Instagram: “I want people to stop posting examples of special reasons for abortion.
“Most people I know, myself included, just don’t want to have a baby. That’s enough! We don’t have to defend it.
“It shouldn’t be said, I think all these examples are just in the wrong hands.”
What is Roe v Wade – and Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization
Roe v Wade is the signature case of Texas woman Norma McCorvey, who was referred to by Jane Roe’s legal pseudonym to protect her privacy, but has since spoken out publicly.
In 1969, she was pregnant with her third child and couldn’t get an abortion because the state only allowed abortion if the mother’s life was in danger
Her attorneys filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court against local District Attorney Henry Wade, claiming Texas’ abortion laws are unconstitutional. The District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled in her favor, but Mr. Wade appealed the Supreme Court’s decision.
After hearing these arguments, the court revealed in 1973 that seven of its nine judges voted for Ms Lo. That means a constitutional change that would give every woman in America the right to have an abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy—and a few more rights—regardless of any state law prohibiting abortion.
On June 24, 2022, six of nine Supreme Court justices voted to uphold Mississippi’s 2018 ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
But the case doesn’t just affect Mississippi. In arguing the case, the state went a step further, asking the court to strike down two of the most basic abortion legislation in the United States — Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey, the 1982 additions to Roe v Wade that added more abortion rights. into the constitution.
By ruling in Dobbs’ favor, the Supreme Court effectively removed guarantees of abortion rights, putting the law in the hands of states instead. At least 12 states have now banned abortion, while others have imposed restrictions or are taking action to make the procedure illegal.
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Some feel differently, even in the UK, where abortion has been legal for decades.
Earlier this week, anti-abortion demonstrators took part in an anti-abortion protest in Parliament Square in London on the 65th anniversary of the passage of the bill.
Call Jane shows that whatever the reasons behind the decision, the Janes have embraced women’s termination.
“I find it amusing that women can be childish in this way when it comes to their own bodies and healthcare,” Banks told Sky News. “We somehow don’t know what’s best for us. So a group needs to be Make sure we make the right decisions. You know, frankly, it’s insulting.
“It’s also an insult to imagine a woman somehow getting pregnant on her own, and not having a man involved or in the decision to terminate the pregnancy, which almost never happens, you know?
“I mean, I think we’re kind of fascinated… This act takes two, but everything beyond that is just about women. We’re responsible for everything after that. And, you know, Every unwanted pregnancy is the result or an irresponsible ejaculation. If this movie can remind anyone, I’m glad.
‘Abortion is a normal part of millions of women’s lives’
The film also shows how different women feel about termination of pregnancy. For some, it’s a painful choice, but for others, it’s an easy decision.
“Certainly, for some women, it’s scary,” said director Phyllis Nagy. “And we do have a lot of these stories already. So we think we have a responsibility [with Call Jane] Normalize the program and show a group of women coming together to solve an unsolvable or seemingly unsolvable problem. “
“I also think that Phyllis really wanted to make abortion care feel very normal, a decision that is made every day as part of the lives of thousands of women,” Banks said.
“It’s not a scary, distressing moment for most women. It’s just, ‘Oh, some sperm and cells with eggs in them are dividing and that’s not what I meant. So I want it to stop’. That’s everything.”
Call Jane will be released on November 4th