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Elisabeth Moss To Star In Movie About Chicago's Jane Collective

By Kelly Bauer | September 19, 2017 5:13pm
 Images from the Jane Collective, which helped women obtain
Images from the Jane Collective, which helped women obtain "underground" abortions in a safe manner when it was illegal.
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Courtesy Women Make Movies, wmm.com

DOWNTOWN — An upcoming movie will focus on the Jane Collective, a group of Chicagoans who helped women access safe abortions before they were legal.

The indie movie, "Call Jane," will star award-winning actress Elisabeth Moss of "Mad Men" and "The Handmaid's Tale" and will portray the work of the Jane Collective, according to Variety.  Moss will play a pregnant woman who receives help from members of the group. 

The Jane Collective was founded in Chicago in 1969. Women in need of help could call the group's phone number and speak to someone who would get the woman's medical history, help them reach a counselor and set up a date and time for an abortion. The procedures were not performed by doctors, but by ordinary women who had been trained on how to perform them safely in apartments around town.  

After the procedure, members of the Jane Collective would check on the women. The group members used a sliding pay scale so all women could afford a safe abortion. 

"We were really very ordinary folks . . . students, lots of housewives ... but we did an extraordinary thing," Jane member Martha Scott said at "The Girl Talk," a talk show co-hosted by DNAinfo Deputy Editor Jen Sabella, in January. "Which is what we all need to keep in mind. We don't have to be stars in order to do the right work." 

At the show, she urged younger women to take up the fight the women of Jane started, since abortion access is nearly nonexistent in large swaths of the country. She said it was discouraging watching something they fought so hard for be slowly reversed by states.

"We've got a whole bunch of things to take care of," Scott said. "I hope we can stop this train wreck one way or another. We certainly can't sit back. I guess the lesson is: Once you've accomplished something, you've just gotta keep at it." 

Scott was arrested in 1973 for her work with the organization, but the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling came a month later, and the charges against her were dropped. 

It's estimated the group's members helped women receive 11,000 abortions before Roe v. Wade, with no women dying in the group's care, according to a book about the group. 

"We had a victory, and it's being eroded, but I don't think it's impossible to find a way out of it," Scott said.