The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service / Edition 2

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"In the four years before the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, most women determined to get abortions had to subject themselves to the power of illegal, unregulated abortionists...But a Chicago woman who happened to stumble across a secret organization code-named 'Jane' had an alternative. Laura Kaplan, who joined Jane in 1971, has pieced together the histories of the anonymous (here identified only by pseudonyms), average-sounding women who transformed themselves into outlaws."—Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The Story of Jane is a piece of women's history in step with feminist theory demanding that women tell their own stories. It serves to remind people of an important and often overlooked moment in the women's rights movement."—Seattle Weekly

"Laura Kaplan's The Story of Jane is the first book to chronicle this controversial sliver of history, and it is a fascinating, if partisan, close-up of the group."—Newsday

"[Kaplan] draws on her personal recollections and interviews with Jane members and clients and the doctors who performed the abortions to provide a well-written, detailed history of this radical group."—Publisher's Weekly

"Weaving together the voices and memories of her former co-workers, Kaplan recounts how the group initially focused on counseling women and helping them find reliable, reasonably priced doctors....Kaplan's account of this remarkable story recaptures the political idealism of the early '70s...23 years after Roe vs. Wade, the issues and memories raised by the books are close and all too relevant."—K Kaufmann, San Francisco Chronicle

"Laura Kaplan's The Story of Jane is the first book to chronicle this controversial sliver of history, and it is a fascinating, if partisan, close-up of the group....The Story of Jane succeeds on the steam of Kaplan's gripping subject and her moving belief in the power of small-scale change."—Cynthia Leive, New York Newsday

"During the four years before the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in 1973, the 100 members of Jane helped some 11,000 women end their pregnancies....There is more in this remarkable book that will further raise eyebrows....Kaplan's engrossing tales of the quiet courage of the women who risked their reputations and freedom to help others may remind many readers of other kinds of outlaws who have resisted tyranny throughout history."—Chicago Sun-Times

An extraordinary history by one of its members, this is the first account of Jane's evolution, the conflicts within the group, and the impact its work had both on the women it helped and the members themselves. This book stands as a compelling testament to a woman's most essential freedom--control over her own body--and to the power of women helping women.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From 1969 until January 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, a pioneering group of Chicago feminists who called themselves ``Jane'' provided illegal access to abortions for thousands of women. Kaplan, who is now a lay midwife, joined Jane in 1971 as a counselor. Here she draws on her personal recollections and interviews with Jane members and clients and the doctors who performed the abortions to provide a well-written, detailed history of this radical group. Initially Jane was a referral agency only, but as demand grew, members became involved in counseling and attended clients' abortions, and some eventually trained to perform the abortions. Jane volunteers were convinced that women were entitled to control over their bodies, and they acted on their principles, despite the consequences. Several members were arrested in 1972, but the suit was dropped. Jane disbanded after abortion clinics became legal. A dramatic and important piece of women's history. (Jan.)
Library Journal
From 1969 until the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling in 1973, a group of Chicago women formed a loose underground organization whose sole purpose was to aid women who needed abortions (then illegal, of course) in getting them as safely and inexpensively as possible. They called their referral service "Jane" and worked out a set of complicated procedures to keep both themselves and their clients out of jail. At first they handled referrals to willing doctors on a very limited basis-only three or four a week-but as word about Jane got around their business increased. Eventually the women were taught by an expert to do the abortions themselves, which enabled them to charge next to nothing to those in financial need. But the operations were not all they did; every one of the 11,000 women who came to Jane also received health education and counseling. As a study of this remarkable but little known phenomenon, this book will be of value to anyone interested in women's health, the women's movement, and women's reproductive health and rights, particularly now that those rights are coming under increasing attack.-Audrey Eaglen, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226424217
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1997
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 334
  • Sales rank: 575,158
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2005

    Without Apology

    Not only an excellent account of the underground organization known as JANE, but it is written in such a fast-paced way that many young readers, both male and female will find it accessible and hard to put down. In these days when the rule of Christian Fascism is a distinct possibility of turning this country into a fundamentalist, Handmaid's Tale-like theocracy, the lessons and the dedication of these women should be looked to and wrangled with in understanding the coming possibly very dark days ahead.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2003

    Excellent and Empowering

    I thought this book was amazing, not only because it seems accurate, but because it was inspiring as well. Access to an abortion is still very limited, and stories like this one may motivate people to change that. It is always refreshing to hear how things were before Roe, and how important it is that the status quo is at least maintained, if not expanded. I really, really, really recommend this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2001

    These were the 'back alley butchers'

    Laura Kaplan tells the inside story of 'Jane,' a feminist criminal abortion syndicate run in Chicago in the late 1960s. Although she peers through the rosy lenses of hindsight, Kaplan gives us a much-needed refresher from the greasy-old-man-with-a-coathanger stories that are presented as typical of pre-legalization abortion. Although her characterization of some events, such as the Philadelphia Mothers Day fiasco of 1972, casts a shadow on her reliability as a thorough reporter, Kaplan nevertheless shows a side of criminal abortion most prochoicers need to see.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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