May 4, 2022 - Things to Do

Chicago's underground abortion history

women in bathing suits
"The Janes" documentary is scheduled to air on HBO on June 8. Photo courtesy of Martha Scott and HBO

At a time when abortion was illegal in most of the country, Chicago became the underground epicenter of a movement.

Driving the news: Two films that premiered at Sundance in January — documentary "The Janes" and feature film "Call Jane" — tell the story of the women involved in the abortion-rights collective.

Flashback: From 1969 to 1973, the Janes offered local abortion services to an estimated 11,000 women and trained others to perform them.

Context: "Chicago at that time was the epicenter of so much turmoil and organizing," documentary director Tia Lessin told "Democracy Now" in January.

  • "And that's where these women came from — the women's movement, the anti-war movement, student movement, the civil rights movement."

What they're saying: Producer Emma Pildes told "Democracy Now" that while making the documentary, "[we were] losing the Supreme Court majority and losing Justice Ginsburg, so we just felt the urgency to make sure that the story gets out."

What's next: "The Janes" will air on HBO in June.

  • "Call Jane," starring Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver, is scheduled for theaters in October.
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