Aug 5, 2022 - Things to Do

Chicago Janes on stage and screen

Woman's silhouette holding a phone
Illustration courtesy of Paula Kamen

The Jane Collective's underground abortion network that started in Chicago 53 years ago inspired both this summer's HBO documentary "The Janes" and this fall's feature film starring Elizabeth Banks, "Call Jane."

What's more: Paula Kamen also wrote a play about it.

  • Called "Jane: Abortion and the Underground," the documentary-style play is based on interviews with the women who almost went to jail for running the network from 1969 to 1972.

The inspiration: Kamen first learned about the Janes in 1992 and was astounded by how little had been written about them.

  • "It was unbelievable that these 'hippie housewives,' University of Chicago grad students, and anti-war activists from Hyde Park could successfully run an underground abortion service out of their apartments," she tells Axios.

Her hopes: The play reminds people that:

  • "Abortion continues even when it's illegal."
  • "Elections for state Supreme Court judges, like Illinois' in November, are important."
  • "Poor women are affected more severely when abortion is criminalized."

If you go: The "Jane" script gets a staged reading by the Violet Surprise Theatre Co. tomorrow at 7pm at the Berger Park Coach House Theatre.

  • It's a fundraiser for Midwest Access Coalition, which hosts a panel after the show.
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