The Janes 2022


The Janes is a documentary starring all the Janes themselves, who tell the whole story. It is an incredible 1 hr 41 minute video in which the Janes themselves tell the story of how they became a legendary group of young feminists in Chicago who started a clandestine abortion service in 1969 and provided safe abortions to some 11,000 women before they were all arrested in 1972, facing ten years in prison. Along with the now scruffy looking man who told them he was a gynaecologist, and who did the abortions (D&Cs) until he was outed and taught the Janes to do the abortions themselves. D&Cs, yes. And how their brilliant lawyer saw Roe v. Wade coming in the Supreme Court and delayed the trial for months, long enough that the trial never took place.

Meanwhile, all over Chicago, you could find cards posted in phone booths, on advertising boards, in shops, saying: “Pregnant? Anxious? … Call Jane”, with a phone number.

There was a one-off special showing in London on 30 October with a packed audience of three generations of abortion rights activists and providers. Everyone was both moved to tears and inspired by these incredible women, whose story couldn’t be more relevant today — as the US goes to the polls for mid-term elections on 10 November.

One of the Janes, Judith Arcana, who opened the film, wrote poems about the whole experience and about the women they helped. Go to: Another, Laura Kaplan, wrote a 318 page book called The Story of Jane, also about their history, first published in 1995 and reissued in 2019. Go to:

The Janes is an HBO Max production and was released on 8 June 2022 in the USA. It was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival in 2022. You can find it on Netflix, Amazon, BFI Player (UK), and other streaming sources. Don’t miss it!!