#256: The Abortion Underground

The Abortion Counseling Service of Women’s Liberation, codenamed “Jane,” performed an estimated 11,000 low-cost abortions in Chicago in the years immediately preceding the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Jane began in 1969 as a counseling service that connected people with doctors willing to terminate their pregnancies. But soon enough, its members started assisting with the procedures, and by the end of 1971, were themselves providing as many as 90 abortions a week in addition to basic gynecological care. None of the Jane volunteers—all of them women—were doctors. They simply believed that women should take reproductive care into their own hands, as they had done for centuries prior to the advent of bans on abortion. In The Story of Jane, activist Laura Kaplan tells the story of the legendary service, of which she herself was a member.


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