The Janes Documentary

Brave women helping with abortions before 1973 – The Janes

The Revolution will not be televised” is a statement and famous song by singer and world-renowned poet Gil Scott-Heron.  

Directors Tia Lesson and Emma Pildes had other things in mind with the release of their revolutionary film The Janes. This documentary masterpiece premiered at a pivotal time in American History amid the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States agreed with the right to have an abortion. The Janes documentary and directors Tia Lesson and Emma Pildes will be one of the featured films and talks at Original Thinkers Festival September 29- October 2.

For most of the nation abortion was illegal, until 1973. A few years before in 1969 a group of bold audacious and beyond brave women took matters into their own hands. These women stood up to the unjust laws that made abortion illegal. Around eleven thousand abortions were illegally performed, until a police raid in 1972. Seven women were eventually arrested and faced various counts of homicide and conspiracy to commit abortion. If convicted, they faced one hundred and ten years in prison for each woman. These women (Janes) were young and bold fifty years ago. They acted as live abortion clinics providing safe abortions for women in the Chicago area. Their clientele included daughters, wives, mistresses of police, state attorneys and judges. Ultimately, they created and operated an underground service giving support to women looking to end a pregnancy before Roe v. Wade.

Fast forward to June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court overruled Roe in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on the grounds that the substantive right to abortion was not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history or tradition”, nor considered a right when the Due Process Clause was ratified in 1868 and was unknown in U.S. law until Roe. This film takes place fifty years ago and now the Supreme court has stripped women of their bodily rights once again. The silver-lining is that The Janes film serves as a blueprint because they offer real life examples for the next generation of activists who will work to save lives in an unjust society. Tickets for The Original Thinkers Festival are available now.

Written by contributor Eric Thompson Jnr

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