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The Story of Jane: A View from within the Legendary Feminist Abortion Service

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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.

An extraordinary history by one of its members, this is the first account of Jane's evolution, the conflicts ...

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1st Edition, Fine/Fine Clean, tight & bright. NO ink names, bookplates, DJ tears etc. Price unclipped. ISBN 0679420126 SIGNED/INSCRIBED by author on Title Page!

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Overview

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.

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

Beth Wolfensberger

Between 1969 and 1973, the years preceding Roe v. Wade, women with unwanted pregnancies found out about "Jane" -- the code name for a Chicago-based, underground feminist abortion service -- through word of mouth. Friends mentioned Jane, or sympathetic doctors did. Fliers posted in cities read: "Pregnant? Don't want to be? Call Jane: 643-3844." Callers reached volunteers so concerned about the lack of safe, affordable abortions that they risked 20-year prison sentences in order to help.

Laura Kaplan, who joined the organization in 1971, calls her new book, The Story of Jane, "a collective memoir." It's also an absorbing evocation of ingenuity and courage. Having interviewed roughly half of more than a hundred of Jane's former staffers, Kaplan constructs a vivid account of its development. She shows us a discussion group of newly-liberated students and housewives in "an era in which simply providing information about abortion was a criminal act," then follows Jane's evolution from a referral service into a complex and highly secretive collaborative group that employed its own skilled abortionist. When that abortionist turned out not to be a physician, some Jane members quit, but others took it as a sign: "If he can do it, then we can do it, too." Several did. In motel rooms and apartments, these women boiled instruments, induced miscarriages, explained contraception, and aimed to ensure that everyone treated felt she had control over the procedure.

Also figuring in Jane's story are police raids, the Mob, the homicide squad, divisive inner politics, and the Supreme Court, whose legalization of abortion led to the group's dissolution. Kaplan employs pseudonyms throughout, but she relates the history expertly, capturing the personalities, the blood, the sorrow, and the exhilaration of Jane's selfless work. -- Salon

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
Mary Carroll
Spot and Dick play no role in Kaplan's vivid, thoughtful "collective memoir" of the Chicago women who formed Jane (officially, the Abortion Counseling Service of Women's Liberation), which gave 11,000 women access to safe but illegal abortions between 1969 and the Supreme Court's "Roe v. Wade" decision in January 1973. Herself a member of Jane, Kaplan describes stages in the service's brief life--from screening abortionists to referring clients to a particular practitioner to learning how to perform abortions themselves--and the issues of knowledge, power, responsibility, and respect, which had a key impact on interactions among participants as well as on Jane's relationships with clients, the medical establishment, and the criminal justice system. Because Jane kept limited records, Kaplan's reconstruction is based on interviews with some 40 percent of the 100 women who participated at one time or another; some Jane members are not prepared to be publicly identified, so Kaplan uses pseudonyms for all of them, including herself. This is lively, nuanced history that brings to life the hopes, terrors, and disappointments of a movement committed to giving women control over their own bodies.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679420125
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/1/1995
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

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