Jane: An Abortion Service
Today it's hard to remember when abortion was illegal. But before the Roe vrs. Wade court decision of 1973, women with unwanted pregnancies faced difficult choices.
Women with money could travel to a country where abortion was legal. Those without that option could take their chances with illegal abortionists in this country. Others tried dangerous self-induced abortions, making the coat hanger a national symbol of women's desperation. Each year an estimated 5,000 women died from botched abortions.
The Abortion Counseling Service of Women's Liberation, better known by its nickname "Jane", began as an underground referral group. Eventually they decided to perform the abortions themselves.
Former Jane members estimate that they performed more than 11,000 illegal abortions. Working under difficult clandestine conditions, Jane became legendary on the streets of Chicago for the quality of its care and the dedication of its members.
This section of our website is dedicated to
Ruth Surgal ("Big Jane") 1937-2004 and Jody Parsons 1940-2010