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This is Jane Will Tell the Story of Chicago’s Underground Feminist Abortion Service In the Years Before Roe V. Wade

Too timely for comfort


Amazon has picked up the rights to a spec screenplay based on Laura Kaplan’s nonfiction book, The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service. According to Deadline, the screenplay will center on “a Chicago woman who founded and maintained the underground abortion service ‘Jane,’ a group of women who taught themselves how to perform abortions in the years before Roe V. Wade.”

The script itself is written by Dan Loflin and titled This is Jane. Kaplan seemed pleased by Loflin’s adaptation. “Twenty years after the book’s publication, and more than 40 years after the events it recounts, Jane’s history is more important now than ever,” she said. “It tells the true story of what women were willing to do to help other women.”

Jane operated in the Chicago area from 1968 to 1975, and its members helped more than 11,000 women with safe abortions, health education, and counseling. Kaplan, a lay midwife, actually joined the organization herself in 1971, and the book is based in part on her experiences, and in part on her interviews with clients, doctors, and fellow members. (Nearly all were kept anonymous, for obvious reasons.)

The film will be produced by Le Grisbi Productions, which is headed up by Birdman and Black Mass producer John Lesher. It has yet to find a director, so I’d like to put out my personal plea to Amazon and Le Grisbi now: hire a woman. While I’m sure Dan Loflin did a fine job on the script, this movie is about a group of women battling systemic, misogynist control of their bodies. Though women are certainly not the only people who need abortions, this particular story is one about women. It already has a male screenwriter. Please give it a woman director.

As Republicans across the United States work to bring us closer and closer to a pre-Roe world, and Mike Pence promises to “send Roe v. Wade to the ash-heap of history,” it’s crucial for stories like this to be told. We should never forget why Roe V. Wade was so important to building a more equal nation, and why the idea of an “abortion-free” America is such a deadly myth. No country in the world is abortion-free. There are only those countries with safe abortions – and those with dangerous ones.

These stories also remind us of the good that women can accomplish, even in the worst of circumstances, when we commit to working for and with each other.

(Via Deadline; image via University of Chicago Press)

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