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The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service Paperback – June 9, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0226424217 ISBN-10: 0226424219

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (June 9, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226424219
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226424217
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From 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
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on July 16, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book takes a historical (even if partly rose colored) look back at the days before Roe vs Wade, and a group of women with a commitment to women's self determination
Although it is still a radical idea in our day (which accounts for the stalking of patients, bombing of Clinics and the killing of medical personel)these women realized that control over one's reproductive system was essential for survival. Women who found themselves pregnant had very limited options (there were no laws against firing pregnant workers or dismissing students and child support payments were very lax in enforcement by modern standards)and Jane sought to change that system. The change is even more remarkable in light of the fact that many of these women were college students like myself.
Because this book is so well written, you can almost feel the excitement and terror as many collective members were changing the system. Understandably, the use of pseudonyms was a necesitity both then and now.
Even though we know that abortion was legalized in Roe the mood is so well set in the book, "Never Again" rings throughout the pages. Although Jane members do not regret what they did, it is obvious that they do not want another generation to resort to such extra-legal methods. One generation was once too many.
In addition to individual reading and research, this book might be useful for a course on American women's history and/or a general course in the 1960's-1970s.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rowan Cota on August 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There was a lot I didn't know about the early years of the legalization of abortion, and this book really taught me a lot. I had no idea that there had been feminist collectives to do this kind of thing, or that much like with the current feminist movement, the women involved were from such diverse backgrounds. In this era of the erosion of the right to choice, this is an important book both to show us how it was and to help inspire a new wave of action.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Anne Elizabeth Moore on November 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The story of Jane-and *this* story of Jane-is unfortunately, a vital one in this contemporary age. It is recommended reading for medical health enthusiasts, women's rights advocates, political activists of all kinds, and people who just plain old like a tale about people getting together and making sure their own needs are met.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By missmao on May 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a must-read for feminists, pro-choicers, pro-lifers, and activists involved in the area of women's health. Information on this book's subject matter is frequently hard to come by, and this is told from the perspective of someone who was there as events unfolded. "The Story of Jane" is a striking example of how women can care for eachother in traumatic situations, and educate their sisters about their bodies, in a way that the often too clinical medical profession does not manage. An interesting look at grass-roots organizing and the politics of the pre-Roe era.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Emily Bonelli-Padow on January 26, 2014
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Women Empowerment! This is a great read looking at the time before Roe v Wade and what lengths women went to take care of an unwanted pregnancy. This story shows what women can do to together to undo how we are still socialized to view ourselves and our bodies. Anyone interested in women's health, healthcare or has had an abortion or knows a friend that has will undoubtedly benefit from this book. The knowledge and clarity from the consciousness raising of the 60s is still needed today.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sd on June 27, 2012
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As a child of the 80s, I have had the privilege of existing only in a world with legal abortion. The Story of Jane introduced me to the realities of the pre-Roe era that I only vaguely knew about from films like "Dirty Dancing" or "Cider House Rules". I couldn't put it down.
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