Indie Film: Hear From The Women Who Created Safe Abortion Access In The 60s, And Whose Work Isnt Done

Indie Film: Hear From The Women Who Created Safe Abortion Access In The 60s, And Whose Work Isnt Done

The female protagonists of the 2022 documentary Janes, which premieres on Space on Wednesday , December 7, must have thought they had their work cut out for them when they settled in for an interview about their decades-long pursuit of the women they love. an abortion. In the 1960s and 1970s. On the other hand, as this film by directors Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes shows with such poignancy and determination, women recognize their rights and even their bodies rest on the swaying sands of America, soaked with toasts and wishes of men. . Men.

"Janes" depicts the action of a group of ordinary women of diverse backgrounds living in the days before Roe v. Wade, when abortion was illegal, they started an underground network in the Chicago area to provide affordable, safe, and highly affordable services to pregnant women. illegal abortion. Through the efforts of an organization called Jane's Collective, nearly 11,000 women have been able to safely terminate unwanted pregnancies at a time when desperate women had to pay exorbitant prices to underground practitioners (often directly linked to the Chicago mob) or to commit dangerous acts and often. deadly acts. . own methods, often with fatal consequences. As the doctor points out in the film, Chicago's sepsis wards weren't so full of dying women that The Jane Collective started.

And here the middle-aged white critic tries to avoid the inevitable storm. Look, people have feelings about abortion and nobody needs that old white man, so I'll be brief. You can't claim that everyone is treated equally when half the population is no longer in control of their own lives and medical decisions about when and if they get pregnant. Ugly retrospective bigotry lies at the heart of any system that tells women that once pregnant, they are no longer in control of their bodies. The central point of any discussion of banning abortion is that women are inherently inferior to men, and this goes completely against everything that makes moral sense. end of lesson.

Jane's didn't last as long as it used to. In the interviews with the narrators who convey the film convincingly, the women of the Jane collective, now in their 70s, are still indifferent to the world in which they navigate and the reasons for their actions. A woman talks about her abortion performed by a mob doctor (if she is a doctor) in a strange motel room, two dumb thugs watch the whole ordeal along with a terrified woman brought in for the same purpose. He nearly bled to death after the men left, and left to their own devices, he and another stranger eventually returned home to wonder if the bleeding would ever stop.

What emerged from this group of women, some already activists, others mothers of children, were a series of flyers and duplicate advertisements printed in underground Chicago newspapers. Am I reading pregnant? you don't want to be Call Jane,” a phone number was printed on the ad. Jane's definitely works here as a political thriller. The name "Jane" was chosen for each member of the underground because, as one woman joked, "no one calls her Jane anymore." Women who want abortions are given a safe house address in a rented apartment and then taken to a second location where an affiliated (and qualified) surgeon performs the procedure. Eventually, when Jane's group learned that even their efforts were out of reach for low-income women (especially women of color), Jane's family learned how to perform abortions themselves, further reducing costs and increasing the risk of arrest.

Arrests were made in 1972 when Chicago police arrested seven Janes, charged them with conspiracy to commit an abortion and other charges, and sentenced the so-called "abortionist of the 7" to 110 years in prison. (True to the air of undercover heroism, the film shows women take turns swallowing chips, which they capture so that the police cannot access information about women seeking abortions.)

The film shows that these amateur practitioners are allowed to operate because many of the women who seek their services are relatives of police officers or family members of police women. "The clients included girls, women, policemen, prosecutors, judges," says one of the characters in the film, explaining the supposed hypocrisy of men suing women for abortions, who are shown turning a blind eye to what they say. That is exactly right. Others speculate that the mob abandoned her nonprofit because it wasn't financially competitive and because, as Jane points out, it didn't leave women's bodies in motel rooms across town like the mob. selfish procedures are often performed.

However, the Janes went to court, and their lawyers deftly pushed the case until Roe v. Wade decriminalized abortion in most cases in 1973. The Jane Collective disbanded, women were freed, and that was it, right? Well, you would think so.

The June 6-3 decision overturning Roe's has led some states to restrict or outright ban abortion, leading to an increase in unwanted pregnancies and often dangerous acts of desperation by women. This is happening in a country where maternal mortality rates are disproportionately biased against poor women and women of color, and where postpartum services for single mothers are almost non-existent in states where abortion bans are the greatest need. Janes paints a bleak picture of an America where single pregnant women are unemployed and isolated, and where women can't even get birth control outside of marriage. It was even as anti-abortion activists were bragging about their next legal challenge before a Supreme Court full of far-right Republicans; prohibition of contraceptives.

Jane's shows that these older women are still as committed to women's rights and women's health as the inexperienced young activists we see in the archival footage. This film convincingly portrays the abortion debate from the trenches, where women faced with deeply personal and dangerous choices are persecuted by a legal system designed to make their lives as difficult and dangerous as possible. and how these women feel about themselves. Watch for the next channel. And that's a good thing, because as the interview in the film reveals, Janes knew all along that women's rights are never secure in a male-dominated America.

"Jane" premieres Wednesday , December 7 at 7:00 PM at Space, 538 Congress St., Portland. Free tickets as long as you RSVP to eventbrite.com. Filed in Maine DSA.


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