On the Job with Jane

by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy  "I was really adrift, but I wanted to do something, and it seemed to me that if you were going pick something in terms of women and politics the front lines was abortion because women were dying and that was real." 

(Editor's Note: This article was developed from a 1999 interview conducted by Becky Kluchin. Jane was the CWLU affiliated underground abortion group. The picture of Jeanne was taken during her Jane days.

"I was really adrift, but I wanted to do something, and it seemed to me that if you were going pick something in terms of women and politics the front lines was abortion because women were dying and that was real." -Former Jane volunteer Jeanne Galatzer-Levy

What was Jane?

Jane was the abortion counseling service affiliated with the CWLU. Before abortion was legalized in 1973, Jane members, none of whom were physicians, performed over 11,000 illegal abortions. Their philosophy was that women had the right to safe humane abortions and that if this wasn’t legally possible , than it was up to the women’s liberation movement to take up the slack. Jane took its medical and social responsibilities seriously, so careful training and a humane relationship with their clientele were an important part of the Jane experience. Known officially as the Abortion Counseling Service of Women’s Liberation, "Jane" was the name people would ask for when they first made contact.

Jeanne Galatzer-Levy joins Jane

Twenty year old Jeannne Galatzer-Levy’s introduction to the Abortion Counseling Service came at a meeting in Hyde Park. It was a rocky start. She had brought a friend named Sheila with her, which unbeknownst to her, violated Jane’s security protocol because Sheila had not been specifically invited. After some pointed discussion, Sheila was allowed to stay, but the incident illustrated the everyday stresses of working in a clandestine abortion network.

Jeanne’s first meeting was especially tense, because a young woman who had come to Jane had recently died. She had wanted an abortion, but had such a dangerous infection that she had been urged to check into a hospital immediately. Jane attempted to follow up her case, but it took several days to determine that she had died in the hospital.

There had been a police investigation. Although the detectives were sympathetic to Jane and did not think that the Service was responsible for the woman’s death, some members had left the group over the incident. It was a difficult soul searching time for those who remained.

By the time Jeanne Galatzer-Levy joined up, Jane members were performing the actual abortions themselves, based on the techniques they had learned from “Mike”, the male abortionist with whom they had formed an often contradictory, but very close relationship.

Jeanne remembers her first orientation,

It was a very large meeting, there must have been 30-35 people, all in the living room that was probably the size of my dining room, you know a big living room, a big old Hyde Park apartment, but still, a lot of women and we’re all sitting on the floor and a few in the chairs in the back that had been pushed to the wall. Then we were kinda told what the Service was. And you know, it was pretty straight forward, I think. They pretty much told us everything except they were doing it themselves.

They told us they weren’t using doctors anymore, and the history of that. My friend Sheila who was so much more perceptive than me, figured out immediately that they were doing it themselves and who it was that was doing it. Sheila’s very sharp. But I was completely oblivious. And we joined.

And that was how we started. And I was paired—we got big sisters— and what we did then was, at the end of a meeting they actually brought out the cards and passed them around and people took cards, but not us, we didn’t take cards. Then I met with Benita in her apartment a couple of times and just went through what we were gonna do and what not, and then she set up a counseling session and I actually sat in on it.

The cards that Jeanne Galatzer-Levy is referring to were the index cards Jane used to assign abortion clients to the Jane volunteers. Cards were passed around at meetings. People tended to want the “easy” cases and the “difficult” cards usually ended up being dealt last. Short term abortions were usually easier cases, so volunteers would start out on them. Long term abortions were more complicated and so demanded more counseling experience.

Galatzer explains,

The cards would go around, and everyone would grab you know, the one who lived in Hyde Park and was twenty years old and was three weeks since the last period, because , it was obviously gonna be better. And then there would be the woman in Long Grove who it had taken two months for her to find us, and she would go around and finally someone would say, we’ve gotta get rid of this woman, and someone would volunteer and take it, and I think some people learned long term counseling by saying I’ve never done one but I’ll do it if you help me.

Jane always tried to do follow up after an abortion was performed, but the results varied considerably:

I mean some people you really got to know and you really had these wonderful relationships with, and some people you just felt there were these huge walls around them and there were walls around you. You just touched at this one point and you helped them and you know that was it, and you knew that you were never gonna see them again. That the one thing in the world they wanted to do was to forget that this had ever happened.

According to Galatzer, the people who had short term abortions were most likely to disappear as the procedure was less prone to complications. With long term abortions, follow-up was a necessity:

The long terms, you induced an abortion, you induced a miscarriage. You had to follow up. It was very important to find out what happened because what we did originally, there was a period when we had Leunbach paste and all these other things, but originally what we did was we broke the bag of water, and they pushed out a much of the amniotic fluid as they could, and the fetus would die, and then they would go into a miscarriage. But things can go wrong with that.

One, you compromise the integrity of the uterus, so there’s a real possibility of infection, which there is with any natural miscarriage too. You could’ve missed and the baby could live, it could still live, and then you’d have to do it again. The body might not go into a miscarriage, and then there’d be dead matter in the uterus— mostly it worked very well, but there were a lot of things that could go wrong, and so it was very important to find out, to follow them, to find out whether they’d gone into a miscarriage, and then find out what happened.

Once they were in a miscarriage they were urged to go to the hospital or emergency room and then say they were in a miscarriage and deny having done anything. If they did it on their own, which some people did, they needed to have a follow up D and C, to do that because you can’t leave anything hanging around in there, nothing. So you did have to really follow them. It was a very different kind of thing. And you had to, it was kinda hard because you really had to establish that relationship. You couldn’t let them slide because you couldn’t pretend that it wasn’t happening the way you could let somebody get away with that who was eight weeks pregnant and it was gonna be something they’d deal with a lot later. It was a different situation.

New volunteers usually started out working at the "Front" which is what Jane called the apartment they used as a reception area. The abortions were performed at another apartment called, "The Place". Women were encouraged to bring along people for emotional support, so the "Fronts" became a gathering place where men, women and children could all be found.

Jane volunteers who worked the "Front", kept everything on schedule, gave out information and reassurance, inventoried supplies and served food and drinks. One Jane volunteer remembers that food was one of the few things that Jane ever really splurged on. Drivers would take a few women at a time from the "Front" to the "Place" and then back again when the abortions were done.

Jeanne Galatzer-Levy describes starting out at the "Front":

Everybody was expected to work the Front, and it was a really long day, and it was hard. People would come and their significant others of some sort or another, their sisters or aunts or cousins or boyfriends or whatever would come, and we were very woman centered. We had all this food at the Front. We always had all this food and tea and soda and things like that. And we gave out—we started them on a dose of tetracycline. And gave them a box of pills that included ergotrate and tetracycline. They took these afterwards, to contract the uterus and help them get back into shape.

You would talk to people. They’d be nervous and then the people who were going for the abortions would be driven off and their significant cousins, brothers, sisters, children whatever would then be sitting there. And so you would have to kinda entertain them. And you know, I was a fairly shy person and it was hard, you know it’s kinda hard to be conducive to strangers in this very peculiar circumstance. I was very young, and you were giving a kind of tea party all day long, and you really were kinda out of the loop, you really didn’t know exactly what was going on. So first you did that. And I did that for a while. And then there was the driver and I moved very quickly into driving because I was one of the few people who had a driver’s license. Lots of people didn’t have their license. Well U of C at the time was full of New Yorkers and New Yorkers don’t drive, like I was one of the people who helped teach Sheila how to drive.

After abortion became legal in New York, women with more money could hop on a plane and have the procedure done legally, so Jane’s clientele became poorer. Jeanne Galatzer-Levy was treasurer at that point and describes Jane’s finances,

Our population became much poorer and we charged, at that point one hundred dollars and we took anything—we literally took nothing. We asked that they give us something. But often they didn’t, you know. We were averaging about fifty bucks. I was by then the treasurer and we were averaging about fifty bucks which we figured we could do, we had figured out that whatever we charged we ended up with about half that per.

I think earlier on, when we were using ‘Mike’ we had to actually have the money and then he’d give us a few free ones. People have wonderful stories about getting people’s coin jars. I never got that as a driver, but I did get a lot of singles. And I, the driver would pick people up, drive around a little bit then go off onto a side street, park the car and ask for the money. People would hand me the money and I would take it, and then I would shove it into my pocket. I never counted it. And I don’t think anybody ever counted it. 

So you know, I didn’t know what people handed me and I didn’t care. And sometimes they would say when they handed me, I don’t have all this, and I would say it doesn’t matter. So we did have some really broke women, and for some of them, I mean they’d been lied to by their boyfriends, they’d been lied to by everybody and they had never really asserted themselves in any way, shape or form, and this was their decision not to be in this position, not to have a baby, not to get stuck again. And they were really flying. They would be really excited you know? We were real sunny and happy, so you know, they allowed themselves to be.

On May 3, 1972 Jeanne Galatzer was working the "Front", caring for three children that had been left by one of the women who was getting her abortion at the "Place". What Jeanne didn’t know was that the police were already raiding the South Shore apartment that was serving as the "Place". Ruth Surgal had just dropped off some snacks at the "Front" and when Galatzer heard a knock on the door, she assumed Ruth had forgotten something. It wasn’t Surgal, but a large beefy Chicago detective. Jane was being busted at both locations.

The Abortion 7 Bust

"We were terrified. We were looking at like one hundred ten years, one to ten each count. It was very impressive." -Jeanne Galatzer-Levy

Jeanne recalls what happened when she heard the knock at the door:

I was at the Front which was an apartment in Hyde Park. It was a nice apartment. It was a ground floor, and it had this long, long hallway, and we were way at the back of this building. Ruth had been over, dropping off food or something, and there were a bunch of people there, and I had been talking to them. It turns out that I had a long, very sincere talk with the woman who had turned us in, which really pissed me off later. I didn’t know, I mean of course I didn’t know. But she was having ambivalent feelings about it, so I was really very helpful. Later I wanted to kill her I was so pissed off.

I opened the door and there were the tallest men I had ever seen in my life, in these suits, and you knew immediately what this was. I don’t know if I said anything or if they said anything.

I think they announced they were the police, and I turned around and walked in front of them and said, "These are the police. You don’t have to tell them anything." And they were really irritated. That was how they decided to arrest me, because I’d opened the door, and you know, it was perfectly obvious to me— I’m a control freak you know, and I think I took charge the way people do.

They were really tall! Really weird. I developed this whole theory. I love crackpot theories, I intend to be a crackpot when I grow up. My theory is that you had to be really tall to be a homicide cop. These were homicide cops, because abortion was a homicide. And they were homicide cops who hated being there. You know it’s not easy to make homicide detective. You really have to be good. It’s not even political like taking the sergeants exam. You really have to do something, and they do it because they want to. And by and large what do is they track down people who kill other people. And they think of themselves as good guys and they hated being there. This was not their kind of crime. So they were very ambivalent about it. They were very funny. So we were taken, I was taken, the whole group of us were taken down to the station. I wasn’t handcuffed, I don’t think. I was treated very nicely, except that I was in a state of perfect terror.

They took everybody. We were dealing with a very poor population, so if a woman was on her second pregnancy and she had a two year old, she had nobody to leave that two year old with. We would beg people, if you’re gonna bring your two year old bring your sister to watch the two year old. But we had children running around, aunts, cousins, uncles, friends, a random bunch of people.

There were men at the Front and they took them too. I don’t think there were a lot of men, but there were a couple. You know I think they were teenagers, very young men. And they tried to sort us all out, and then they interviewed each of us.They asked us questions, and we said—you know we were really middle class savvy people, and we all said, "I don’t have to answer that." And basically, at the end of the day I think that they picked who they arrested on the basis of the ones who said, "‘I don’t have to answer that. You know, because everybody else was talking."

Actually some of the women just wouldn’t say anything. But when we hired Joanne, the attorney who defended us and she got the paperwork, she said, "You’re the best clients I ever had, people talk to the police all the time and you guys didn’t, I love you." We knew we didn’t have to talk to the police and we didn’t.

They asked us,"How much do you charge?" We said, "‘Well how much do they say we charged?". And they would go crazy because they’d ask the women,"Well what did you pay?" And somebody’d say twenty bucks and somebody’d say one hundred bucks, and it didn’t make any sense at all. There was usually this huge wad of cash in illegal abortion busts and the women would come in and say," I paid five hundred dollars." When we got busted, there was a wad of cash, but it was all singles, and these women were saying, "Oh I paid ten dollars."

We were very self-aware I think, and there were all kinds of class and race things going on with the police.They felt more like us then like the women they were supposedly protecting from us, and they kinda wanted that relationship. So that was bizarre, just bizarre.

Martha was in the middle of her period, and she needed a tampon, she’d been asking everybody and was getting nowhere, and a woman policemen walked by and Martha just spontaneously jumped out and called to her. Perps can’t act like that. It was really scary because it made us realize, you know, who were the arrested. What was a very natural act for her, was really inappropriate in that situation. It was very scary.

We weren’t questioned at the 11th and State lockup, we were questioned at wherever the hell it is, the local. And then we were put in paddy wagons, which are really unpleasant, and driven to 11th and State, and the drive in the paddy wagon was a riot. It was all women and of course everybody else who was arrested was a hooker, because that’s all they arrested women for then. And one woman was just giving hilarious stories, regaling us with stories of the street. It was really quite funny. And then we were in the women’s lockup at 11th and State.

We were a big group. People said to me afterwards, "Weren’t you scared?" But once we were together as a group I wasn’t scared again. But it was very unpleasant, a very unpleasant experience. You just, don’t have choices. It’s very strange; it’s just not the way life is. Very unpleasant. But we were together, and we were a group, and we figured something would happen. One of the women who was arrested, had a husband who was a lawyer. And he had managed to communicate to her. People were calling for us. We’d each made a phone call I guess. We knew that things were happening, and that they were going to pay the bail, and then there was the question of whether they could get us out that night or whether we’d have to wait until the morning.

Later into the evening, they put us into double cells, but we were in a row so we could talk to each other. I was put into a cell with Judy who was nursing at the time and they managed to get her out because she was nursing. She really wanted to get out, she really did. Her son really needed her to get out and her husband really needed her to get out too. If she we got her out on her own recognizance, that would lower the bail on all of us.

So they got her out on her own recognizance that night, at night court, so then I spent the actual night alone. But it was next door to other people. It was very unpleasant.In the morning, they gave us bologna sandwiches, which I couldn’t eat, and coffee. It was awful, but that was breakfast at Cook County Jail. Then they loaded us again and we went to, 25th and California, and we went into the women’s lockup there, I guess it could’ve have gotten much worse because women now are much more commonly arrested for all sorts of wonderful things. But at the time, many, many fewer women were arrested . The men’s lockup was horrible at 25th and California, I’m told, but the women’s lock up was pretty small and we were a pretty large group.Then we were called in front of the judge who was very nasty, but who let us out on bail to the arms of our waiting whatevers.

I called my mom and told her that my name was going to be in the paper, and she hadn’t seen it. I don’t think it had occurred to her to scroll down and look for my name. And she was very upset. She wanted me to promise that,"I’d never do anything like that again, and it was very nice but, I understand that you believe in this but you’ll never do this again will you?. You have to be careful," and all the things that mothers say.

I now appreciate that more than I did then. She was very frightened, and she didn’t like it, and we had a conversation about that. But I wasn’t living at home and that was that. And honestly my closest friends were in Jane, so the question of how I dealt with it was really in the context of those people, not in any other context. 

After the Bust

Eventually the "Abortion 7" as they came to be called, were charged with eleven counts of abortion and conspiracy to commit abortion. According to Galatzer, the remaining members of the Service who had not been arrested distanced themselves from the Abortion 7. Galatzer herself is unsure why this happened.

According to Laura Kaplan, who wrote The Story of Jane, part of the reason was the fear that since the police would be watching the "Abortion 7" people, their continued association could endanger the work of the Service. Some members wanted to shut down the Service, but the leadership insisted on continuing. There were desperate women out there and they needed abortions. Whatever the reasons, Jeanne Galatzer-Levy found the distancing painful and upsetting.

Jeanne recalls:

We were terrified. We were looking at like one hundred ten years, one to ten each count. It was very impressive. We were terrified and we all quit the Service, in fact the group withdrew from us and reconstituted and did their own thing. It was like they really didn’t want to be contaminated, which was also very, very upsetting for us. Though luckily for me, my friends were in the group who got arrested.

We became a group, and the first thing we had to do, was meet together and try to deal with the fact that we were in big trouble.We really tried to talk to each other, and that was difficult. We were a very disparate group. You could not have done a better job of getting us swiped across the demographics. You really couldn’t have. We went from Abby who’s really, extraordinarily bourgeois. She and her husband were living out in Downers Grove which is an affluent suburb of Chicago and she was a New York intellectual political person who had sought us out as a political thing and was really very, sorta old left kinda thing, but very bourgeois.

And then there was me at the other end—and Diane, Diane and I were both dropouts so that was the demographics. It went from one end to the other. Sheila was gonna start her senior year. Martha and then Madeleine were housewives with children,-young children. Judy had just had her first child; she had been a high school teacher. I think she had just retired, or taken a year off.

Madeleine who was very involved with NOW, and very involved with much more mainstream kinds of things, had also been very involved in La Leche League. Martha and Madeleine had both been involved in La Leche League early on because they’d nursed. They nursed when nobody did, you know, a million years ago. I don’t think we were endorsed by La Leche League, but you know, they’re great people. And in some ways, we had trouble becoming a group, and in some ways we never did. But we did have a common interest, and the first thing we did was we interview lawyers, and that was really fun. I mean, everything we did was fun, we just had a good time because, we’re just who we are.

We’d go downtown we’d all get gussied up, and it really was a matter of gussying up because frankly we all looked like that scene from The Snapper. It’s an Irish movie, one of the rowdy "down home on the soil " movies. The teenage daughter becomes pregnant, so it’s this whole thing of who did it to his daughter you know. She’s the oldest child of this large family. In the end, she has the baby and they all go to see her and the whole family dresses up right, meaning the father puts on a suit and the mother puts on a kind of a nice dress, and the little girl puts on her baton twirling outfit because that’s the nicest thing she’s got and the little boys got a superman shirt And I thought that’s exactly the way my family always gets dressed up. I loved it because it looked like my family.

Well, when we went to interview the lawyers, we looked the same way...we’d all get gussied up. But except for Abby, we were clueless as to how to do that. We didn’t have those kinds of clothes anyways, except for Abby of course. So we’d get all gussied up and we’d go down and we’d interview somebody. It was a very high profile case, and defense lawyers really like big high profile cases because they get their names in the newspaper and any publicity’s good publicity, believe me.

Defense lawyers as a group, and I say this knowing one of my closest friends is a defense lawyer and is actually very, very good, are a slimy bunch. There’s’s a lot of money in it, and you deal with some pretty sicky people, and some of these people are really pretty creepy. So we’d meet people who were really creepy.

One guy, I can’t remember his name, a very big guy at the time, had this office, this huge room with a huge desk in the corner of his office, and it was gleaming mahogany desk with, and you know he’s got this couch area. The first thing out of his mouth was, "You know you could be in trouble with the taxes". Because you know it was clear we earned money. But this had not occurred to us at all, you know, boy that was the last thing we were worried about.We said,"Not him. No way."

So we’d interview various people then we’d all go out to lunch. And that was all I was doing at the time. And it was pretty much all Sheila was doing at the time. She was trying to finish school, which she did, stretching though that summer. And she wasn’t sure what she was gonna do or, it was very up in the air. Some of us had things that don’t go away like, Martha’s kids, they didn’t disappear for the event. So she’d get up every morning and take care of the kids while all this was going on.

So we interviewed people and we ended up with Joanne who was a gasp. She was just a gasp. She really had this sorta hard as nails persona, and she was just a riot. She had been an elephant girl in the circus. She was great. She’d run off and joined the circus you know, a really interesting person. And she really wanted the case, because she was a woman and she thought a woman should handle the case, and we always thought that too. There were a lot fewer women lawyers then, it was a lot bigger deal. And we liked her. She was the only one who really spoke to us politically.

Well actually, we did talk to a law classics guy, who, I think Northwestern’s legal department. He was very political. And he scared the shit out of us because he was much more interested in the political aspect of it than what happened to us. And the last thing any of us wanted to do was to spend any more time in jail ever, and be martyrs. And we did run into people who had weird ideas about what we could mean to them. That were very strange. We just all quickly agreed that we had no interest in that. We had no interest in it being a political statement, we just wanted it to go away. What we were doing was a political statement, but going to jail was not one we wanted and it wouldn’t help anybody.

Through most of the first three or four months nobody in the Seven went back to work for the Service. And then Diane came in to a meeting and said,"‘I’m going back to work…this is really what I want to do, I really care about it, I was just on the verge of being trained and I really wanna do that, and I’m going back." And then Martha went back and I went back, and then Madeleine went back. Abby did not, and hated it that we did. Sheila didn’t because she wanted to get on with her life, she was going back to school and thinking about what she wanted to do. I don’t think Judy went back to work, and I don’t remember why.

Why did I make that choice? Well it’s very interesting. I was twenty-one when we got arrested, and quite frankly it had never occurred to me that we could get arrested. And probably, it had never occurred to me that choices had consequences, that actions have consequences. There’s nothing like a night in Cook Country Jail to make you realize that actions have consequences. It was an enormous growth experience for me. In a way I was really sorta shaken out of my little cocoon of being a kid. I really realized that what I did made a difference,and could have real consequences and I had to really think through this decision. When I talked through why I was doing this, I wanted to be doing it still. Which made me feel real good about having done it in the first place, and I decided well if this is what I want do then I should do it. Its sorta a civil disobedience argument.

The level of seriousness changed enormously. I was blithe about it, clearly I thought it was important, and I wanted to do it, and I was really having a lot of fun doing it, it was really rewarding. But afterwards I realized that I had made a very serious choice and if I was going to do this, I could get into really serious trouble. And I was gonna do it anyway. 

The End of Jane

Joanne, the Abortion 7’s lawyer, pursued a strategy of delay. She knew the Supreme Court was going to rule on the Roe vrs. Wade case, a major abortion test case. If the Court ruled in favor of abortion rights, then it would be easier to get the defendants off, or at least cut a better deal.

Jeanne Galatzer-Levy explains how it all ended:

Once we had hired Joanne, basically what she said was,"All we’re going to do now, from now on, is delay this until the Roe v Wade decision comes down because nobody wants to prosecute you knowing that this is happening. They don’t wanna waste the money, so they’re gonna allow us to wait." So we just diddled around. We had periodic court appearances, in which again we’d get all gussied up and we’d go down and have lunch after the court thing. And we just were waiting, and we knew it was coming.

Some of us had gone back to work, some of us hadn’t and we were just waiting. Then the decision came down and I don’t remember where I was standing when I heard this decided, I just remember that we all called each other and people called me. We got together and you know we were thrilled of course, we were real excited and happy, and you know, it was like everything else, you know you get into the court system and everything up, the arrest is so dramatic and exciting, horrifying and all those things, and then everything past that is so boring, and slow and very different kind of time frame and very different emotional thing. It’s very surreal. And disconnected in a way that the arrest is so immediate. So basically she said we’ll all go in and we’ll see, and I’ll talk to the prosecutor and see what they’ll do. Obviously they’re not gonna prosecute you at this point, but there are issues involved. So she went in and they cut a deal. They dismissed everything, and they didn’t hit us with practicing medicine without a license which they could’ve, in exchange for us not asking for our instruments back. We said okay sure.

The Abortion Counseling Service sort of ground to a halt. I think we did two more weeks. Then we had a party and it was all over.

After leaving the Abortion Counseling Service, Jeanne Galatzer-Levy joined the Chicago Women’s Graphics Collective and helped produce the large colorful feminist posters the group made famous. In 1974, she married Robert Levy and over the years raised 4 sons and 1 daughter, which she describes as,"...the first, best and most important thing I will ever do."

When her children were older, she returned to school and finished an MS degree in biochemistry(1994) and a second BA in journalism(1999). She now works as a freelance science writer. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and she has just begun a project for the International Medical News Group.

Writings on Abortion

By Judith Arcana (Editor's Note:  Judith Arcana is a writer whose poems, stories and essays appear often in journals and anthologies. Her newest book isWhat if your mother? See Judith’s profile at womenarts.org; for readings/talks, contact jawhatif@earthlink.net.)

(Editors note: Judith Arcana was a Jane volunteer. The picture on the left was taken during her days in Jane and is from the videoJane: An Abortion Service.)

Three Pieces about Abortion

My father tells me something by Judith Arcana

You know, your mother had an abortion, it was before you and your brothers were born, in the thirties, about a year after we got married, so we must have been twenty one, both of us. She went, Annie went, to our family doctor, it was Jack Kornofsky, your mother’s cousin – well, he married your mother’s cousin Dorothy – he was the one we went to whenever anything was wrong, he would come out to the house when you kids got sick, do you remember him at all? He wore glasses, had a big smile. He would come when you had a fever, and he would always bring a Hershey bar in his bag for you kids – imagine a doctor doing that! Well, he knew you all loved Hershey bars. He and Dorothy were at our wedding. So anyway, he told her she was pregnant. When Annie came home and told me, we went back to him together, you know, and asked him what we should do. We didn’t think about it the way you do, the way everybody does now, we didn’t talk about it, we just knew it wouldn’t be good if we had a baby then, so young, just starting out. This was the Depression, we were still living with your grandparents in the old house on Saywell. So we asked him, Kornofsky, what to do. He sent us to this other doctor, oh listen, all of a sudden I remember his name, it was Ryan, his name was Ryan, can you beat that? All these years never thinking about it, why should I suddenly remember his name? So Kornofsky gave us the address and phone number of this other doctor, Ryan, who would do abortions. But no, no, if he hadn’t told us what to do, who to see, hadn’t given us the address, I guess she would have had the baby, we wouldn’t have known what else to do, I don’t know what else there would have been to do. Maybe your mother would have had some other ideas, maybe the women knew something, like you do, now, but you know, I don’t think so – as I remember it, she didn’t know any more than I did.

(Judith Arcana. Do not use/reproduce without permission. First published in Hurricane Alice, Vol.13, #s 2&3, 1998

Talking about Suzie, 1959 by Judith Arcana

Don't you remember anything? It was just a little while ago, I think it was '56, no, it mustve been '57, Suzie went away right after school got out, right at the start of summer. So what was that, your second year at Bonaventure, starting then? Sure, yeah, cause it was the summer before my junior year. Don't you remember, it was right around the time of spring carnival, they said she was sick and she had to stay home and finish the year with a tutor from DePaul? And then they said she had to go away, so Aunt Viv and Uncle Al took her away, but remember Teddy and the all the little kids stayed with us for a week and you two took them to the beach on the bus every day? Remember it was real hot, everybody was at the lake except me, that was the year I got my work permit, the first time I could make more than baby-sitting money, so I could only go to the lake on Sundays after church. Anyway, that was when they took her to one of those places, homes, in St. Louis; they keep you there until you have your baby and then they give the baby to people who can't have kids. It was like a convent there, or a jail even, I'm not kidding, places like that are so strict, the people who ran it were really mean, worse than Sister Marie-Claire- maybe even worse than Sister Thomas. I saw this movie about a girl who had to go to one, and her boyfriend tries to find her and he finally does, and he's real cute, but they wont let him in. So Mom and Dad and Aunt Viv and Uncle Al told everybody she was at a sanitorium, for breathing when you get TB or something, but she was'nt, she was in St Louis. It is true. She did. Don't tell me you didn't know this. Suzie had a baby right before school started up again. She nearly got back too late to register; remember because she came late she had to be locker partners with some girl in her homeroom who never talked? How can you not remember any of this?.

(Judith Arcana. Do not use/reproduce without permission. First published in Hurricane Alice, Vol.13, No. 2 & 3, 1998.

She said
- before 1973

by Judith Arcana

On the phone she said, I have a friend who's got a problem, but she couldn't get to a phone so I'm calling for her. Do you know what I mean? Is this the right place?

When she lay down, she said, Are you a doctor?

Then she said, Aren't you afraid you'll get caught?

When we were putting in the speculum, she said, Oh, I had breakfast before I came. I know I wasn't supposed to but I was so hungry I just ate everything in sight, is that ok?

Later she said, I think I have to throw up.

Or, I have to go to the bathroom right now. Stop. I just have to go to the bathroom, and then I'll come right back.

Or, on a different day, I don't feel so good, should I do it anyway?

The next week she said, Infection? I don't have any infection. Oh, that. That's not really an infection. That infection's nothing, I've had it before, it's nothing, go on, go ahead and take that baby out.

Sometimes she said, Can I see it before you throw it away?

But another time she said, I don't want to look at it, ok? When it comes out, I'll just close my eyes, and you take it away, ok?

Once she said, What do you do with it all at the end of the day? Boy, you people are gonna get in trouble sometime, this's against the law.

And when we were done she said, What if it happens again? You know – this. Would you do me again?

She stood on the back steps outside the counselor's apartment and said, This is mi prima, my cousin, from Mexico. Can you talk Spanish to her? Habla un poco? Un poquito? Si, gringa! We will do this.

No, I'll keep it on, I'm not hot, it's ok, I'm fine. She was wearing her boyfriend's baseball jacket in the kitchen. She said, Just tell me what I have to know.

This is my husband, Ed. He's going to sit here with me. She leaned over, touched his arm, and said, Ed, honey, this is Julie, she's my counselor, the one that got assigned to me when we called the number.

When we told her she should pay whatever she could afford, she was quiet a minute and then said, I think I can get nine dollars.

My father brought me here today. He's paying for this but he's really mad at me for it. She took a hundred dollar bill out of her pocket and said, He thinks if everybody got liberated, like with civil rights, that there'd be a lot of trouble, and he says I prove his point, because look what happens when you just do what you want. He says that's why we have to have so many laws on everybody, because if you let people be free and do what they want they'll just do evil things.

When the sister-in-law was asked why she called the police, she said, It's a sin, she can't do this. She has to have it, we all have to. Jesus doesn't want her to get rid of this baby, that's why I did it.

He doesn't like me to talk to my mother. Him and his mother, they don't let me go home to visit. She put the tiny baby in her mother's arms and said, We sneaked to come for this appointment. He doesn't know I'm pregnant again. My baby is so new, I can't have another one right away. He wouldn't even want it really, he thinks this one makes too much noise. He doesn't like me to do anything without his permission.

Holding her purse, wearing her gloves, the girl clinging to her coat sleeve, she said, You take good care of her, she don't know no better, she's just a baby her own self, she don't even know how this happened. She don't know what it's all about, this whole thing.

My mother told me I couldn't keep it, she told me she'd get the baby taken away from me right away if I had it. She cried, loud crying with snot and choking. She wiped her nose and said, She knows I want to have it. I could be a good mother, I've taken care of babies and I know what to do. But I'm only fifteen so she'll get them to take it away from me, I know she will. That's why I'm doing this! I'd rather not even see it!

After the cervical injection, she said, How did you learn all this? Did you read a book? Is there a book?

Every now and then, she said, How come you let us bring our boyfriends over to your house to wait? Aren't you afraid they'll tell? And, Jeez, who are all these little kids? What're you guys doing, running a kindergarten on the side? Are those doughnuts for us?

When we finished talking and gave her our phone numbers, she said, What if it comes out alive? What should I do then? I can't have it be alive. Should I, you know, should I...? Can I do it by myself? It could be alive, right?

Now and then she said, Oh I'm so sick, what a mess, oh I'm so sorry, I really feel fine but this just happened oh oh here it comes again. Oh god I'm so sorry, I can't help it, I'm such a mess, oh thank you.

She rang the bell, and when we buzzed her in she said, My girlfriends are downstairs. They brought me over when I called you about the cramps. Should they come back for me or can you give me a ride home? How long will it take for it to, you know, all come out?

Another time, waiting to miscarry, she said, I'm sorry it's taking so long. I'm sure you've got other things to do, I know a lot of women are waiting. But thank you so much, thank you for letting me come to your house. I couldn't have done this at my house, for sure. My parents think I'm at my girlfriend's house, I just hope they don't call to check on me, cause my girlfriend's mother could say something wrong and then I'd really be in trouble.

Ok, it'll take me about an hour and a half to drive home - I live over the line in Indiana - and here's what I'm going to do, she said one winter weekend. My father's a heavy sleeper, so if the cramps come in the night while he's sleeping he'll never hear me; I'll just go in the bathroom and lock the door. I'll do it all in there. He won't even hear the toilet flush, he never does, even when it's just ordinary, you know, flushing for regular reasons.

She looked at the clear plastic sheet on the mattress, the speculum and the syringe. Then she laughed and said, You ladies somethin, doin this up in here; you somethin, all right.

Why do you do this? She looked around the small bedroom and said, You're not rich. With what you charge, you can't be doing this for the money. What's it all about? Are you a bunch of women's libbers? Is that it?

I'm not nervous. I think you are good women. I'm never nervous, maybe cuz I'm always tired. She was so tired that when the woman beside the bed rocked her shoulder softly to wake her up, she said, It's over? I'm sorry, I just closed my eyes after the shot you gave me down there. I'm sorry, but I was real tired, I had to work a double shift and din have no time between work and here.

Ohmygod, does this happen all the time? This bleeding? She gasped and said, The blood is so dark. OOh! Ice?! Ay! Make it stop! This ice tray is too cold! Ohmygod! You better not be scared, I'm the one scared, not you. Orange juice, are you kidding? Ay, what if I faint? I know people faint when they lose blood. Can you still do me? Did you finish?

She leaned over to the woman driving and quietly said, My daughter's in Children's Memorial, she's only two, she's having an operation on her stomach valve today – it doesn't work right, since she was born. My husband's over there, with her, for that, while I'm here, for this. Could I leave right after I'm done? Could you take me back right away, so I don't wait til everybody is done? Would that be ok? Would the other women mind, do you think?

She gulped some water in the kitchen and said, Oh thank you, you'll never know what this means to me, thank you so much. I can't thank you enough, I'm sure. I know some people say it's wrong, abortion, that you shouldn't take a life. And maybe you did take a life. But it’s all give and take, isn’t it? My mother always said that everything always comes down to give and take. So the baby, today, that was the taking – and me, me, my own life, I think that was the giving.

Judith Arcana. Do not use/reproduce without permission. First published in CALYX, Winter, 1998, 17:3.

Something Real: Jane and Me. Memories and Exhortations of a Feminist Ex-Abortionist

by Linnea Johnson

Over the years, I have become convinced that patriarchal capitalism is a system women cannot revise any more than we can "reform" water so that we might breathe it. As long as the law is male, women must be outlaws. I became an outlaw when I joined "Jane," a group of women in Chicago who, between 1969 and 1973, did more than 11,000 abortions. 

(Editor's Note: Linnea Johnson was a member of the Abortion Counseling Service. She is a poet and a playwright.) 

"The woman's body is the terrain on which patriarchy is erected. The repossession by women of our bodies will bring far more essential change to human society than the seizing of the means of production by workers."

-Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born

Part I

Over the years, I have become convinced that patriarchal capitalism is a system women cannot revise any more than we can "reform" water so that we might breathe it. As long as the law is male, women must be outlaws. I became an outlaw when I joined "Jane," a group of women in Chicago who, between 1969 and 1973, did more than 11,000 abortions.

Jane, as the Abortion Counseling Service, a work group of the Chicago Women's Liberation Union, has come to be called, began in the mid-1960s when of personal necessity, a couple women friends who lived in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago found a couple men, representing themselves as physicians, who did good, clean abortions. In addition to referring women to decent abortionists, these women were what then was called "patient advocates". Patient advocates can be loosely defined as the unintimidated surrogate accompanying the "patient" to the "doctor's" office for the sole purpose of dislodging information relevant to that "patient" from that "doctor". That a person has a right to information about oneself did. Not make that information any less difficult to obtain given "standard medical practice," that stone wall behind which was kept what (often little) information was extant. The Service became one of many referral services across the United States referring women who wanted abortions to a person who could be trusted with a speculum, a dilator, and a curette. In the United States' in the 1960s the grounds for obtaining a legally/medically/male-sanctioned abortion were narrowly defined. Capriciously shifting, and rigorously mediated. Then as now, few protested the War Against women, that continuing war of the patriarchy against women, though there are and had been many, I among them, who had seen and had protested the United States' oppression of racial minorities, had seen and had protested US imperialism in Viet Nam.

By 1970 when I joined Jane, which we always called "The Service," I had begun to see that men have power though no right, to colonize women's bodies; that men have power, though no right, to make up laws which effect women and that what I could do about it this time was not again protest through lobbying, convincing, begging, litigating, demonstrating, educating, theorizing, waiting and waiting and waiting to get male intercession or permission. Instead, this time, what I could do was to act outside male law, male control, with women on our behalf. How I expressed this then was by saving that I wanted to "do something real".

The history of Jane is not in this essay. My history of me in that group is. We each tend to remember different things and to remember things differently: if collectively uninterpreted, all the stories of all the Janes would form the history/herstory of that group. The purpose of this essay is to offer a distillate of how I remember things, to spin my hit of the web, create my portion of what, if and when taken together, becomes context, becomes a history of Jane, "history" not being the monolith we are taught to believe it is.

In 1970 I had returned to Chicago where I was born and had grown up, from Nebraska, where I had taken my undergraduate degree and had also taken to getting married and pregnant. Two marriages, one miscarriage, one self-induced quinine abortion and two children later, I was twenty-three; twenty-three and for some reason convinced I could do anything. My father used to call me "bullheaded," my mother used to pray for me. I know I have always believed in conscience and justice whether expressed in terms of collective action, God, or lawlessness.

1970 is the year Robin Morgan's anthology, Sisterhood Is Powerful, came out: its publication doubled the number of feminist books I knew about. I had begun reading deBeauvoir's Second Sex in 1967, in self-defense; my first husband had called me a "feminist" while we were arguing. He'd said, "You know what you are..." I discovered the word in deBeauvoir and claimed it, feeling better and more myself than ever I had before.

By 1970 I was substitute-teaching in Chicago's public grade schools for work; my second husband was working civil service at the downtown post office. Having fled flimsy middle-income high-rise housing, we'd found a sunny first floor Northside flat on Gordon Terrace, a street which had once been on the lakeshore before the park and the Outer Drive had been set into place on landfill. This apartment was in a grand old Chicago house filled with woodwork and wainscoting, a third floor ballroom and several fireplaces. Eventually, this wonderful apartment, with its front bathroom and huge front bedroom, was one of the houses the Service often used for doing abortions.

In 1970, I saw an announcement in The Chicago Tribune for a National Organization of Women meeting and decided to attend. At this meeting the organizers talked about staging a cocktail party for advertising executives at which it would be our mission to convince these executives that using various female body parts to sell their products was not acceptable practice. Once again, I would be part of asking something of someone in charge: we ourselves were never those someones, and we were in charge of nothing but asking. "Strategy" was confined to trying to determine how to ask someone something effectively.

To me, fighting for Women's Rights was not, is not, a matter of asking or of educating the patriarchs--at parties or anywhere else. Appealing to members of the same group who maintain the custom of precluding rights was then, is now, simply a bad idea.

"Something real" is how I characterized what I wanted to do. I asked a woman who was standing next to me at the NOW meeting, "Is there anything real going on in Chicago for women? This cocktail party stuff is ridiculous. I want to do something real". She chuckled, as I remember it, and asked for my phone number saying she'd call me in a week or two. I thought, sure, right, but then she did call and she invited me to a meeting of women about abortion, "if you're still interested". I said that if it were to be about making cocktails while lobbying for abortion rights, I wouldn't be interested. She said it wasn't like that.

It wasn't like that.

The evening in 1970 I attended my first meeting of the Abortion Counseling Service, fifteen or so white and Semitic women were gathered at someone's house. I remember sitting on the floor wondering what exactly was going on. Eventually, I remember it dawning on me; I remember thinking, "These women are talking about DOING abortions". I hoped that what I surmised was correct, that, indeed, no one in this group would ask me to write to congress, to lobby, to convince anyone of anything, or to wait; maybe I was going to be able to do something real. Doing abortions with the Service has always felt that way to me: real. It is the best work I ever did.

Virtually every woman, heterosexual and lesbian, contemplates the possibility (or understands the importance) of abortion. At the beginning of the Service, the Hyde Park women would schedule abortions with the abortionists one day per week. Always, more women need abortions than can find ways to have abortions, so, at some point between 1967-l97O, the women and the one (sometimes two) abortionist(s) began working two days per week. Even at $4OO-5OO per abortion (every cent of which the man kept) these good, illegal abortions became the abortions of choice in Chicago.

Eventually and so that the man who wore a white coat and called himself a doctor could concentrate on the "medical"/ medicalized/"technical"/"important" aspects of abortion, and could, therefore, do more abortions per workday, the women began "assisting". "Assisting" was, at first, finding and equipping a workspace: then, gradually, it became that and giving the pre-abortion injection (of the antibiotic) tetracycline; then it became placing the speculum; then finding, holding onto (with a tenaculum), and swabbing the cervix (with the antiseptic Betadyne). Cleaning the blood off the women having abortions and off the bed on which the abortions were done was an early and constant part of assisting. When what the "doctor" had to do was walk into a room in which lay a calm, well-informed woman who wanted an abortion, what he would do would be to anaesthetize the cervix (with xylocaine), dilate the cervix/os curette the uterus, and then walk on to the next similar situation; his time spent per woman dropped and he was consequently convinced to reduce his charge to $275 per abortion (every cent of which he himself kept).

Besides assisting, however, what the women came to learn was that the abortionist was not a doctor. Without that mystique of "doctorness" abortion became what it is (and what most other forms of "medicine"/healing actually are a series of things to do carefully, most of which the women were already doing. The simple deduction was profound; if he can do abortions, we can do abortions.

From 1971,when the women began doing most of the abortions and sometimes hiring male abortionists to work with them/us, the charge per abortion became $100, or what the woman determined she could afford. The average amount paid was about $40 per abortion, with everyone having an abortion paying something. By the Spring of 1973, when Jane mostly folded (after the January 1973 Roe v. Wade US Supreme Court decision and the appearance of the first "legal" abortion clinics in Chicago), we worked 3 days per week doing 25-30 abortions per day--about 80 per week.

From the money we charged for abortions, we deducted our supplies, phone and laundry bills. When Jane women were doing most of the abortions, we decided to pay (by the day) the women abortionists (abortionists who held the instruments--mostly, all of us in Jane thought of ourselves as abortionists) and the Jane who organized the phone messages onto 3x5 cards.

From my talk with other former Janes over the years, I know now there was debate over these pay decisions then, but I don't recall that. Some women remember bitter arguments over a possible loss of altruism should any of us pay ourselves for our work; some women remember arguing about "volunteerism" and not seeming to value our own work if we didn't pay ourselves; some women argued about creating an hierarchical pay scale--and how could we avoid it and who should be paid...

It is an amazing part of this for me what each Jane remembers, what remains vivid for each of us. I tend to remember procedure and not Service politics; I still remember the feel of a speculum in my hand but I do not remember who liked whom and why, who said what and why. For some of us, the Service was all-consuming; for others of us it was, as it was for me, absolutely naturally integrated into my sense of living a life I believed in. I was comfortable with all I was doing; was neither wary, suspicious, nor paranoid as others since have said they were then. I remember telling my parents matter-of-factly that should I be arrested, I would like them to take care of my kids I didn't ask their approval or their opinion. They took it as matter-of-factly as I told them; my kids grew up knowing, this fact of my life incorporated along with many other facts Others are still wary of talking about Jane or aspects of how it was for them in Jane. For me, it is the best work I ever did.

Part II

How the Service worked was like this: a woman who had found the Jane phone number would call and get our answering machine. Our message said, in those days when answering machines were rare:

Hello, this is Jane from Women's Liberation. Leave your name and number and speak slowly and clearly. Someone will return your call. If you do not hear from us in two or three days, call us back.

Women found our phone number in a variety of ways--from underground/movement papers and bulletin boards in universities and Laundromats; from a friend, physician, clergy, or cop. Women got our phone number from the mother of a friend or from her own mother, oncologist, co-worker, pusher, social worker, or father. Illegal and legal, out of state and in, overt and covert sources passed along our phone number to women.

Remember that fewer than a hundred or so years ago women had not yet been culturally organized/trained to go to men for any such thing as to have an abortion. Before "professionalization" and "medicalization" (predicated on institutionalized male power) women's bodies were literally in the hands of other women: physicians were little more than grave robbers, dentists with an attitude, barbers with extra straight razors/scalpels, and ghouls.

In the early 1970s, there were phone numbers other than ours floating around: phone numbers good for a day or two, a week, maybe a year or two: phone numbers connecting women to masked quacks in Chicago, docs on the take in Detroit, guys working themselves through bartending or medical school or out the back of a van in California, St. Louis, and Weehawken. Phone numbers connected women to opportunists in Florida and to fly-by-nighters in Queens, and here and there was a phone number of a reliable someone working alone or in sync with conscience. With most of the abortionist-profiteers, women would find themselves blindfolded, blindsided, picked up on corners, bound to secrecy or to a kitchen table or motel coffee table. Often, others would do abortions too quickly and without anesthesia, compassion, the exchange of names, or so much as a hello, women finding themselves dumped back at some train station or onto a remote street corner without follow-up, friends, recourse, or information, and out several hundred dollars whether the abortion was complete or not, antiseptic or not, successful or not.

But, when they found the Jane number, the Service number, our number, women found something neither entrepreneurial nor impersonal, neither medicalized nor professionalized. When women found the Jane number, they found other women working together with, for, because of, and among women, however ancient and unique that seemed in 1.970, or now.

Several times a day, whomever was "Janeing" took messages from the tape, writing the information onto 3x9 cards she'd then take to our weekly meetings, the business of which, primarily, was to disperse the cards among the dozen or twenty women working any given week. We chose cards idiosyncratically, noting some similarity or difference in circumstance, neighborhood, ethnicity, or blood factor between ourselves and the name of the woman on the 3x5 card.

Calling back the phone numbers of the women on the cards, we'd find out that some of the women had already gotten an abortion elsewhere, some had gotten their period, some had given birth, kept it or given it up, and didn't want or need to speak with us. Some women had died. Some women were bleeding or had tubes or gauze or rags stuffed into their uterus; they needed advice, referral to a physician who wouldn't injure them further or turn them in, or advice on what they could do for themselves just then. Some phone numbers had been incorrectly given or received. Some women couldn't talk then but could they call us back some midnight from untraceable pay phone to untraceable pay phone. Often, a boyfriend or father called trying to arrange things for or in spite of the woman whose name, along with his number, he'd left on the Jane tape. However, most often, the woman whose name I had on the 3x5 card talked to me herself and was eager to meet so that I could describe and we could discuss the abortion she'd called to initiate.

I preferred to meet with women one to one, though other Service women preferred to meet with women in groups. I usually invited the woman to my house evenings after I'd put my kids to bed, suggesting she bring a friend along, if she'd like. Ordinarily I would have made tea for us and had some cookies out on a plate: we'd sit around my dining room table or in the livingroom, maybe in front of a fire, and we'd talk. On the 3x5 cards, I'd write down what she told me about her menstrual history, any children, pregnancies, allergies, or difficulties she had, and information about any medication she took regularly.

I'd tell the woman what a dilation and curettage (D&C) abortion was like. The choice to have an abortion was hers until the opening of the cervix to the uterus, was dilated; after dilation, emptying the uterus became inevitable. In those days, I saw little mind-changing; women had their decision firmly made, usually, and were eager to get on with the abortion. Frequently, they hoped I might do it then and there; women were unaccustomed to being told anything much about what was to be done to us--often the woman’s attitude was, "don't tell me any(more)thing, just get on with it". But we insisted that SHE KNOW; that the abortion was something we were going to be doing together, that this was her decision and she could, should, and must know all about it.

I would illustrate what I was saying by showing the woman diagrams/drawings from the newsprint edition then available of the Boston Women's Health Collective's Our Bodies, Ourselves; we had this edition by the cartons full and would give them to interested women. I would show the woman a plastic version of a metal speculum, and I would talk to her about how it held open the vaginal walls allowing us, and her with a mirror if she chose, to see the cervix and the os. Often, the example-speculurn I had lying around the house had eyes and mouths painted on them; the kids clacked them about as toy puppet ducks opening and closing the "beaks" to make them appear to speak.

The first time I saw a cervix was the first day I assisted; the woman on the bed could see, too, using a mirror. I knew the cervix to be the tapered neck of the uterus which extends down into the upper vagina, the os at the bottom of it being the opening through which sperm enters the uterus and which, in full term labor, opens to about ten centimeters. A pregnant uterus is engorged, purpled, as it is just before a period. 

But knowing is not the same as seeing. Seeing, I remember thinking how beautiful the cervix is and how it looks like a glistening pink doughnut. I felt happy and fascinated. Seeing her cervix, I knew that this woman was not pregnant; it was instinctual, inherent knowledge, a body reading the semiotics of a body. A pregnancy test had been incorrect, which had caused this women to find us. For the woman on the bed, her believing our reading her as not pregnant did not have to be an act of faith; it was, instead, a matter of corporeal epiphany.

Towards the close of my one-to-one meetings with the women who wanted abortions, I would write down the date, time, and address of her appointment; I'd write down my phone number, too, in case she had questions or problems after her abortion. I said I wouldn't call her unless the Pap test we'd do prior to the abortion was inconclusive or abnormal.

The address I'd write down would get her to the "Front," the apartment at which she (and a friend, if she chose) would wait before and to which she'd return after the abortion. Another one of the Service women, another Jane, would drive her and a group of other women wanting abortions, room the Front to the second apartment, the "Place," where she would have the abortion. Only Jane women and women having abortions would be at the Place.

Jane women would be at the Front to talk with and counsel with the women wanting abortions, and to keep the bowls full of Triscuit, the apricot nectar flowing; we always brought food and drink for the women come for abortions, and for their friends, as we brought nourishment and treats for any of the rest of us when we got together any other time. Often, the second group of women waiting for abortions sat quietly until midmorning when the first careful of women returned. Women returned happy: things went well; they were relieved; they were no longer pregnant; they had put their own decision into effect by finding other competent, caring, and determined women.

Both the Front and the Place were someone's apartment or house. We would volunteer our apartments or houses as we could. Our lives were in evidence in the photos and books on our shelves, the Melmac, teddy bears, or vibrator overlooked in a dining room or bedroom; the glass beads in the doorway, Joplin poster on the wall; in the sheets on our beds on which the abortions were done. The Service used some of the money collected from doing abortions to pay for the Places' laundry to be done professionally; I and many of the rest of the Janes used our best sheets on days our homes were being used as the Place.

At the Place we checked the information on the 3x9 cards again with the women whose information it was. Whenever we were asked if we were doctors, we said, "NO. We are not doctors. We are abortionists". None of the women who did those 11,000 abortions had been medically schooled.

We women in Jane learned how to do abortions from one another, as peer-apprentices, though no one called it that. Our home-done abortions had a lower infection rate (about 2%) than do most hospital surgeries. We killed no one, a fact which contrasts with what happened when legislators legalized abortion allowing physicians who had not necessarily ever been trained to do abortions, to do abortions. Quite simply, women died from legal abortions because the law granted authority (to physicians) without regard to proficiency. Similarly, those without license are not granted legal authority to do abortions, without regard to proficiency, the test for what is "legal" having to do with power and who has (granted themselves) the right to wield it. I have always been amazed at how relatively simple the physical process of performing abortions is, how readily it is learned; what keeps most of us away from that realization is that closed guild which is organized medicine.

Part III

I remember that the physical procedure to abort the pregnancy began with giving the pregnant woman an intramuscular injection of tetracycline (in the buttocks). A week's supply of tetracycline in capsule form (which, at the time, cost us about a penny apiece) was sent home with each woman after her abortion, with instructions to take them until they were gone. We also suggested she would be wise to eat some cultured milk products, like yogurt or sour cream, while taking an(y) antibiotic, since tetracycline/antibiotics help(s) prevent/control infection by indiscriminately destroying both good and bad bacteria In the body.

When a woman knew she had (relatively)rare RH negative blood, she would be given the name of a "sympathetic" physician who would follow-up her abortion with an injection of RhoGam which is used to immunize the woman to prevent possibly fatal RH-incompatibility reactions in future pregnancies.

We secured the necessary equipment and medications from various pharmacies and medical supply stores around town. Obtaining the supplies required no prescription--one merely had to appear to know what she was doing to purchase specula, sterilizing trays, gloves, tenacula, and the rest. Tetracycline is a prescription drug but was only slightly more difficult to purchase.

After the tetracycline injection, the woman would be asked to lie down so that we could position a sterilized metal speculum into her vagina to locate her cervix. We used no draping, no stirrups, no shaving, no masks, and no doctors. We used precise instruments but neither medical guise/guys nor props.

We then used cotton swabs to do a Pap test, taking sloughed cells from first inside the os, then around the face of the cervix. We placed the cells, in turn, on a glass slide labeled with her name and the date, used fixative, and, later, sent that slide along with the others from the day's work out to a lab which read it and sent back results which we later relayed to the women whose results they were. The lab charged us about a dollar per slide for their reading and report. Later in Jane's existence,. we purchased a microscope; we were going to learn to read the slides ourselves, but the cops confiscated the microscope in the May 1972 bust. I don't know that we ever got the microscope back.

After the Pap test we would wash the cervix with Betadyne, then inject xylocaine at 12, 6, 3, & 9 to create a paracervical block, using a tenaculum to hold the cervix in place, if necessary. Dilation of the os we accomplished by using either a graduated series of thin to less thin rods or by using a manual dilator, coaxing the os gradually to open. 

We assumed that women with normal thigh muscles could hold their legs as was necessary and, by god, each woman did. We told women: you're a part of this not an object of this; this is an ensemble production. Abortion was to be a matter of informed choice; decision-making is a revolutionary act. And we talked ~ along, giving information, asking and answering questions, a woman at the pregnant woman's shoulders holding her hand or maybe wiping her forehead. Those women who said they didn't want to know what was happening were told why we thought it important to know, why it is important not to detach oneself from one's body or to submit to anyone else, even to someone who is helping, who you have chosen to help, even to us.

The Jane who was holding most of the instruments would tell the woman whose abortion it was what was going on, asking her to relax, to lie as still as possible, and to keep her legs up and apart. We concentrated on what was going on and often we also talked and laughed and told jokes to and amongst one another--not because it was "therapeutic" or because we took abortion, ourselves, or the woman choosing abortion lightly, but because we were doing important things together as the people we were, and we loved doing those things and doing them together.

My favorite instrument was the sound. It is beautiful, silver , and pliable, has a rounded tip, and is calibrated. It is moved about inside the uterus to discern the size, shape, and topography of the uterus, the location of the pregnancy. When the tip touches solidity, the sound bends slightly; the hand holding the sound can feel that: it is a highly responsive instrument.

One woman who, in confirming the information on the 3x9 card noting her ten pregnancies, her ten living children, said, indeed, she was certain she was pregnant because she hadn't had her period in five months. Her cervix was grey, not the fuschia with engorgement of a usual 12-16 week pregnancy, and though starchy diets over a long time often produce such grey tissue, still, pregnant, the uterus should have at least flushed pink. Though the sound virtually disappeared into her huge, spongy, and seemingly empty uterus, none of us could find the pregnancy.

It did not occur to us to tell her, as her physician had, that a) she wasn't pregnant--he could find no pregnancy (either), and b) an eleventh child would make no difference in her life--the physician had told her to "show him" her pregnancy by having the child.

Finally, one of us, with the sound, found a tiny tunnel on the top and to the back of her uterus, a bubble of the uterus above and behind the tunnel, in which lay the small, underdeveloped pregnancy, a pregnancy which we removed, as we removed other pregnancies, with a curette.

Most often we aborted pregnancies by dilation and curettage (D&c). By about 1972, the technique of manual vacuum aspiration was available, and we used it, too, frequently for women six weeks pregnant or less, though curettage always completed those abortions. The aspiration was less uncomfortable but then we felt it was not always entirely reliable when used alone. For women 6-12 weeks pregnant, we always did the D&C.

For women 12-16 weeks pregnant, or beyond, labor was induced, most commonly by breaking the amniotic sac with forceps. Both laminaria and luenbach paste, which separate the placenta from the uterine wall, were available during some of those years, but their presence is clinically detectable while a broken amniotic sac, drained fluid, and a dilated os can all be attributed to natural process. The os dilated, the sac broken, labor induced, the pregnancy comes out.

After a direct abortion, an abortion in which labor was not induced, but during which both fetus and placenta were removed, the newly not-pregnant woman would be returned to the Front where she would meet up with whatever friend she'd brought along, talk with Jane women, celebrate, recover a bit, or talk with the other women there for the same reason. If she had come alone, she would call someone to pick her up. When she left the Front she'd leave with a packet of tetracycline in hand and a list of phone numbers for her to call in case she had a problem or wanted to talk about the abortion. We told her we'd call her in a few days if her Pap test needed to be followed up on. We told her (again, as this is part of what we'd talked about the first time she would have spoken personally with a Jane) if there was more bleeding after the abortion than during her normal period, she should lie down, put her feet up and put ice over the area o~ her ovaries and uterus. If this wouldn't slow down the bleeding, we said she should go (or we would take her, if she wished) to her doctor, a doctor, or to a non-Catholic emergency room, where, invariably she'd be told to lie down, put her feet up and put ice on her "tummy". If she were filling a Kotex in 15 minutes or less, we told her to consider that flow hemmorhaging and to go directly to an emergency room where we'd meet her (if she wished). More frequently than we took women to doctors or to emergency rooms where we took them was into our homes, our confidence, and, frequently, into the Service. Indeed, if a woman expressed interest in joining us, someone would call her up, as someone had called me up, and invite her to one of our meetings.

Eventually, the Service rented two apartments, one on the North Side which we used solely for women who did not have insurance, green card (government assisted health care), or circumstance to deliver the fetus in a hospital, or who did not choose to deliver at her own home and who had nowhere else to go. The other apartment we rented was on the South Side and, for a brief while, became our regular Place, at which point only the Fronts changed each workday.

It was at the South Side apartment that seven of us were busted on the May day in 1972 that J. Edgar Hoover finally died. Neither the Chicago Police nor the Outfit/Mafia had previously bothered us though each knew of our work: we were clean, damn good, and made too little money to interest them.

From all accounts, what happened to cause the bust was that the police, who reputedly knew and had known about us and who had photos of us at various political demonstrations and at our various residences over time, had been hounded by a Catholic sister-in-law of a woman who had chosen to have an abortion. The cops had put her off, apparently, but she was persistent and outraged that abortions could be going on at all and further outraged at the cops' reaction, or lack thereof, to her complaint.

The cops took everyone around that day, scooping up people first at the Place, then, at the Front--friends, boyfriends, mothers--there must have been a couple dozen people busted in mid-afternoon who didn't get tossed into jail until midnight. Seven Service women were charged with "battery" and the like. All charges were subsequently dropped ostensibly because the law was changed (Roe v. Wade, 1973) although the law never changed enough to "allow" non-physicians to do abortions.

The arrest was one of several points during the history of the Service when women dropped out. For instance, when the male abortionists were "found out" many of the women in the Service said. something like "They're not doctors!" and while some of us had a look of panic, horror, or terror on our faces, others, like me, smiled broadly saying it. Just after the bust I remember a discussion in which some women asked if we should continue doing abortions. I was impatient with talk like that. The arrests changed nothing for me; our doing abortions was (still) both right and illegal.

When Jane finally did disband (late 1973), after abortion was effectively "legalized," we unconsciously made the same error that the Suffragists had made after Suffrage had been "granted" in the US: we thought we'd won, changed something, that someone somewhere was wising up, seeing the light. But what we did was to remand women back into the realm of male law, male custom, medical custody. Bad idea then as now.

Those of us in Jane, in the Women's Movement then and now, had not done, have yet to do, our homework, either that or we are far too trusting, or maybe we believe that the system is only in need of revision and that it will somehow at some time begin to include us (structurally), work for us. What we must understand is that the system of patriarchal imperialism is inimical to women: it always has been and it always will be. We live by the tolerance or privilege or oversight of the patriarchs.

We didn't win at Suffrage. We didn't win at Roe v. Wade. There is no winning. A hundred years of hindsight has us asking how could the Suffragists have thought that getting the vote in a rigged, white, male, heterosexual system was a win. We understand that they should have not organized to become a part of such a system, but, instead, worked to take apart that system. Why do we not ask the same of ourselves?

Decisions/laws hold only as long as they work for or do not work against the decision/law makers. The acts of "asking permission," of marching, of lobbying, and demonstrating acknowledge the very power imbalance women must change.

We should all know by now that the rights of women are legally unacknowledged and structurally, fundamentally incompatible with patriarchy. We are treason and heresy: I think we should, embrace that, consider it kernel, foundation, nucleus, and core to being women.

It is no wonder that abortion law does not reflect women's needs, rights, and thought: which laws do? We must notice that other patriarchal imperialist traditions such as rape, pornography, and the male beating up on women are patriarchal perks--rites as well as rights of patriarchy; these are the same rights/rites conquering forces often exert, then traditionalize, systematize. These "traditions," these "values" are so deeply incorporated into gender relations that, for instance, normative heterosexual behavior is virtually indistinguishable from some outcroppings of violence against women, like rape and pornography.

Abortion is part of the power patriarchy holds over women. Abortion is an issue of hegemony and imperialism: men to other men are explorers; to men, women are the moon, enigmatic frontier and flow, "virgin"/empty land to be owned and controlled and into which flags can be rammed. Men have made women their territory, abortion theirs to control, mystify, and sell back to women; abortion is not simply a medical procedure, it is a medicalized procedure, a procedure medicalized, like childbirth and Pap tests, and for the same reasons--control and profit.

The Pap test consists of inserting a' speculum into a vagina, locating the cervix, then inserting, in turn, two long cotton-tipped swabs one at a time through the vagina to the cervix. The first swab pets cells from the os the second, pets cells off the surface of the cervix. The cells from the swabs are placed onto a glass slide next to a note regarding their place of origin, then a fixative is sprayed over the cells and the slide is sent to a lab to be read. The Pap test is no more difficult to do, little more' invasive or complex, than flossing a tooth. Indeed, the tissue of the vagina is similar to the tissue in the mouth, only cleaner. Clearly, the logistics of doing it oneself takes practice though that difficulty can be overcome by women doing each others' Pap tests. This is not a "medical procedure," but a procedure colonized by professionalization.

The Pap test, abortion, and childbirth are each procedures to perform carefully and knowledgeably; why they are "medical(ized)" procedures has to do with issues of control. To misquote and meld Marx and Engels: "He who is in control of the means of re-production is in control of an essential form of labor". One has but to look at the history of labor (of all kinds) under capitalism to trace the colonization and Pacification of a cheap (free/unpaid, in this case) work force to see how this operates.

Remember, too, if you will, the days before "birthing suites" at the local hospital; remember when women fought for their lovers, boyfriends and/or husbands to be with them at the birth of their children? Remember the Physicians' response to those demands? Unequivocal negative response. Unequivocal that is, until the physicians found a way to colonize "birthing," incorporate it into their business arena, and then sell it back to women along with their other "services". Their answer to our demands was a variety of ways of saying no--it was 'Unsanitary," "unworkable"--too many people in the delivery room at ~ time; it was "against standard medical practice"--until it wasn't any of those things--until the medical business found a way to sell "birthing" back to women.

I suggest we not only demedicalize abortion but that women begin (again) to do abortions ourselves. Bring back safe, "illegal" abortions done by women for and because of women. Groups of women can certainly do our own safe abortions; women have always done our own safe abortions. The medicalization of health and the colonization of women's bodies have obscured what can and must be done. Going back again and again to the patriarchs whose right/rite it is to rape women, beat women, and to force impregnation and childbirth is not what women want to continue doing. Women need to practice disobedience (civil..if you like) to law: we must not obey laws which we did not write and which are written at our expense and which keep us oppressed and keep us asking permission.

Organizing a Clandestine Abortion Network

by Ruth Surgal (Editors Note: This article was developed from a 1999 interview conducted by Becky Kluchin. The picture of Ruth is from the 1995 videoJane: An Abortion Service. ) (Editors Note: This article was developed from a 1999 interview conducted by Becky Kluchin. The picture of Ruth is from the 1995 video Jane: An Abortion Service. This memoir is also available in our regular Memoirs and Bios section.)

"Now originally, way back in the beginning, I really thought feminism was stupid. It’s really embarrassing to think about it. But, I was at a Women for Peace meeting and some women came to talk about the women’s movement and feminism. I just thought they were you know, having trouble in their marriages... none of it made any sense to me"- Ruth Surgal, 1999.

What was Jane?

Jane was the abortion counseling service affiliated with the CWLU. Before abortion was legalized in 1973, Jane members, none of whom were physicians, performed over 11,000 illegal abortions. Their philosophy was that women had the right to safe humane abortions and that if that wasn’t legally possible , than it was up to the women’s liberation movement to take up the slack.

Jane took its medical and social responsibilities seriously. so careful training and a humane relationship with their clientele were an important part of the Jane experience. Known officially as the Abortion Counseling Service of Women’s Liberation, "Jane" was the name people would ask for when they first made contact. Ruth Surgal and Jody Parsons were the main leaders of Jane throughout most of its existence

Ruth Surgal

Soon after her first puzzled encounter with feminist ideas, Ruth Surgal had one of those “Ah” or “Click” experiences, when suddenly, women’s liberation made perfect sense. Many women had such experiences in the 1960’s and 1970’s. For Ruth it was listening to a 1969 radio interview with Marlene Dixon, a University of Chicago professor who had been fired because of her outspoken support of the women’s liberation movement.

Active in the anti-war movement, Surgal felt the need to do something different.

I was looking for something to do because I was not willing to get arrested in the anti-war movement. It wasn’t I that didn’t care about it, but for whatever reason it wasn’t my personal fight. And I knew that the women’s movement was my personal fight and that I would be willing to go to the wall for it, or whatever, get arrested—not that I did, but......I went to this house and there were different activities, you know, different things that were being organized.
There was the Women’s Union, there probably was daycare, there might have been some sports, a newsletter, and an abortion counseling service. And since I was a social worker, and I knew crisis intervention, that was of course what I would do. So it didn’t come out of a particular interest in abortion. It came out of my work experience.

Jane began as a referral service, but for Surgal and the others, dealing with the actual male abortionists was a very frustrating experience. There were blindfolds, high prices, secret motel rooms and the nagging feeling that women needed to be in control over the process. Finally the Service settled on one abortionist who seemed more flexible than the rest. Claiming to be a physician, he became known as “Mike”. Although no one questioned his technical expertise as an abortionist, it was eventually learned that Mike really wasn’t a doctor.

When Surgal and Jody Parsons first negotiated with him:

We both went down to talk to him, because he wouldn’t talk to both of us at the same time because three made a conspiracy. So first I went to talk to him, and I—whatever we talked about, and then Jody went to talk to him and she got him to come down in money and she was much tougher then I was. But they got to be really, really close friends and they were friends for years afterwards.

According to Ruth, Mike was a very complicated person:

He was a con man. I mean he truly, truly, truly was a con man. Back in the days of the counseling service I thought he was the sexiest man I ever met. It was like I could hardly stand it, I thought he was—it was just impossible. You know, that’s how I felt. I just thought the sexiest person. He was just exuding it ... He was this very odd combination, and I think he had just never met anybody quite like Jody certainly, there just aren’t many people quite like Jody, and like the group as a whole.
He grew up in a very tough neighborhood where most of his friends were in prison or dead. So, his expectation was that you had to take care of yourself because if you didn’t someone would knock you out, and you had to watch your back all the time.
But he thought I was a traitor so to speak, a stool pigeon because I was the person who insisted that we had to let everybody know that he wasn’t a real doctor. And he was furious and he yelled and screamed and was just beside himself and I felt bad. Then he went back to California and called me long distance and apologized. He was very sorry. He was a very complicated person. Very complicated.

While working for Jane, Mike taught people his abortion techniques. As people learned what he knew, the blindfolds began coming off and the prices dropped. The people he trained, trained others, so that after his departure, Jane became an all-woman service.

Jane’s medical techniques were very good, but Jane always felt that technical knowledge wasn’t enough. The women seeking the abortions needed to feel that they were part of the process. Although the modern term “empowerment” has become something of a threadbare politician’s cliche, Jane actually took the idea seriously.

Counselors and intake personnel learned to listen to Jane’s clients carefully, as what was NOT said was often as important as what WAS said. Women were encouraged to talk about themselves and their lives. People talked about women’s liberation, about how women were expected to be sexy and desirable, but then were punished for becoming pregnant. Women were encouraged to talk about their personal experiences with children, pregnancy and abortion. Jane wanted to demystify the abortion experience so that people could make intelligent decisions about what to do.

Surgal explains:

It was one of the things we talked about a lot that we were not doing something TO this woman, we were doing something WITH this woman and she was as much a part of it, and part of the process as we were. So that we would talk about how we relied on them if we got busted. You know we would explain that they were not doing anything illegal. We were doing something illegal. But we need their help, and you know don’t talk about it, and we have to be quiet, and it might be a terrible way to do things but this is what we have to do. And people were pretty good.

Jane was a diverse group of people and styles varied:

Some people were much more political and could get really good political discussions going. Others would just kinda sit, and there’d be friendly conversations. You know it just really depended on who it was. I mean people were helpful to each other by and large. Not necessarily in really big ways. One person would have an abortion and then the next person would, just like when you go to the dentist,[and say things like] oh you know it wasn’t that bad . People were pretty good. But not always. ... I think because we set it up in such a comfortable way, and we tried so hard to be respectful.
I think that that kind of attitude of respect and egalitarian or equality or whatever the word is, helps people be together, and bonds people. You know, I think mostly people recognized real support, you know, and the kind of warmth and acceptance, whatever it is that comes from that sorta approach and a way of—I suppose people have different styles, I made myself so present, that was my way of doing it, that I, you know, to make people comfortable I ‘d make myself present in a, at least this is what I think I did, in a way that was strong and vulnerable at the same time.

Jane tried to find places for volunteers based on their skills and abilities. Surgal herself did not feel confident enough to perform the actual abortion procedure:

I think in the beginning I was curious about the process. But because I am so strongly a helping person there was somebody who’s hand had to be held and there I was to do it.....
Then actually helping a little bit, or actually trying to do abortions, I really had a lot of trouble with that. I could do the first part. I could dilate the cervix, I could give the shot, but I couldn’t do that abortion. I could do it now. But I couldn’t do it then. And now I could do it because I trust my hands. And then I didn’t. And I trust them now because of doing pottery. Like I couldn’t make pie crusts before and now I can.
I was afraid I would hurt somebody. If I couldn’t see what my hands were doing, how did I know? As long as I could see what I was doing I was Ok, but once I had to go inside and I couldn’t see anymore, I had no confidence that I would do it right.

Surgal decided that her talents would better serve the group as "Big Jane", the term that was used to describe the person who actually assigned abortion counselors, scheduled abortions and was the members’ main source of information. She explains:

I took the job of Big Jane, that was the only other seriously powerful position. And I did it. And now, I was fortunate, or I should say the group was fortunate. There was a person who was doing Big Jane and she was not doing a very good job, and she was very good at doing abortions. So I said all right we’re switching, I’m going do this and you’re going do that, and I could do that because I had the power in the group to do it. Although everybody was angry, but they wouldn’t tell me about it because I had the power and I could do it. You know how that goes.

Decision making within Jane could be difficult. Conditions were stressful because of the life and death nature of the work they were doing, the necessity for secrecy and the knowledge that they had to focus on the work because so many desperate women depended on them. People had a tendency to suppress open disagreement to keep the group united and task oriented. Naturally, this created its own problems, but when 7 Jane members were unexpectedly arrested and the very existence of the group was threatened, people continued performing abortions, even as disagreements about strategy intensified.

Surgal especially remembers one struggle:

I remember there was this one woman who was fierce, and extremely powerful. She just wasn’t in the leadership group. I don’t remember what we had this fight about, but it was certainly during the arrest. She and I had a terrible argument right about something we were going to do. But I won. And I knew I would because I can be so fierce when I have to be. And so I out fierced her.

Jane soon figured out the arrests were not part of an overall plan to shut down the Abortion Counseling Service, but rather the actions of an individual police commander. Ironically, some of Jane’s clients came from police families and the overall attitude of the usually repressive and controlling Mayor Richard J. Daley city administration was to unofficially ignore Jane’s activities.

Not long after the Roe vrs. Wade decision legalized abortion in January of 1973, the case against the “Abortion 7” was quietly dropped. Some Jane members wanted to go on, believing that legalization did not address the issues of cost and the quality of care. Others were burned out, or feared that because abortion was now legally profitable, the medical establishment would have them prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license.

Ruth Surgal hoped that Jane’s extensive experience in performing abortions would become a model:

I was naïve, I thought we had learned in the counseling service how to deliver services in a very respectful way that made it so much easier on everybody, and particularly for the woman. We could go out into the world and the medical world would take it and everybody would then practice medicine differently. Well, you know, of course wasn’t going to happen. I mean even in abortion clinics it didn’t happen, so, I was naïve.

Jane closed its doors in the spring of 1973. The Abortion Counseling Service existed in tumultuous times and no one who went through Jane was unaffected by the intensity of the experience.

For the people who I know, it was the single most intense period of our life and when it stopped there was something missing. And you couldn’t find anything to do that carried quite that energy for a long time. I mean, how often to get a chance to actually do something that’s not enormously complicated and is truly helpful, you know., You can be helpful in lots of ways, but this was really helpful because without us they would’ve been in serious trouble. These were people who couldn’t afford to go to all the regular places, you know, for abortion. Or the places they went to they would get hurt. So what we did was really important. Doesn’t happen very often in a lifetime. Or hardly at all, you know that one gets a chance to do that.

It would be all too easy to romanticize Jane, and make its members larger than life. Ruth Surgal cautions against "overvaluing" the Jane experience because,"It makes it outside of normal experience, and it isn’t outside of normal experience."

Jane members decided they had a job to do and they did it. When the job was over, Jane members moved on with their diverse lives.

Today Ruth Surgal is still involved with social work and is an accomplished potter. The hands that she feared were not steady enough to perform actual abortions, today shape clay into exquisitely subtle forms.

She is an active member of the Herstory Website Project and patiently continues to give interviews about her participation in Jane, explaining how she feels about it now:

It’s only afterwards that you think about it. You know, thinking about it now I think about that, how lucky I was to have had that experience. But at the time it was just something you did, because you wanted to. It wasn’t a big deal. It didn’t feel like, oh I’m doing this really important thing. It didn’t feel like that at all. It just was another job to do. Afterwards it felt important.... you know, and even though it was just this little tiny world important, still it had this number of women and it was a helpful thing to do.