Call Jane
May 31, 2017 10:54 AM   Subscribe



 
Another technique/technology that came from '70s feminist groups was menstrual extraction, using the "Del-Em" vacuum aspirator to either remove an entire menstrual cycle at once or to obtain an early abortion in a socially acceptable way. More articles about the technique here. Euphemistic "menstrual regulation" is still used legally in places like Bangladesh where "abortion" is illegal.

The night that Trump won the election, I bought a used copy of A Woman's Book of Choices (Amazon) from 1992. Just in case.
posted by nicebookrack at 11:26 AM on May 31 [6 favorites]


Thank you for this, I'd never heard of the Jane collective before but I am in awe of their courage and dedication!

I've never understood the concept that motherhood and support for abortion rights should be at odds with each other. If there was one thing that made me an even more staunch and vocal supporter of abortion rights it was pregnancy and motherhood.
posted by lydhre at 11:33 AM on May 31 [7 favorites]


Interesting. That was a bit of history I had never known. Cheers.
posted by Samizdata at 11:33 AM on May 31


For more reading, The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service is a memoir about the collective by former member Laura Kaplan.
posted by nicebookrack at 11:41 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]


Thanks very much for posting this, Artw.
posted by zarq at 12:21 PM on May 31


Previously
posted by brujita at 12:22 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


We talked about reviving Jane in 1989 when Operation Rescue (OR) was so active. Their motto was "If you believe abortion is murder, act like it's murder."

We'd go out every Saturday to protect clinics. Team leaders were issued cell phones (bricks) at 3 a.m. We had pagers, and we had moles in OR that sometimes knew where the hits were going to happen. Every team leader had a clinic and a group of volunteers as a "pre-team". Sometimes there was a decoy clinic and we'd get fooled into believing the hit was going to be in Orange County when it was actually going to be in the San Fernando Valley. We'd follow a convoy of cars only to find out by pager that another clinic had been hit, our slim pre-team at the hit clinic had been forced out and people were already chaining themselves to the doors. Sometimes, we all got to the clinic at the same time and there was a fight for the doors. That was fun. I was 19, 20, 21 years old. I loved fighting. I wore combat boots and looked like hell on wheels. Sometimes they took some doors and we took others. Sometimes, we'd sneak patients in through secret doors. Sometimes, we'd walk patients over protesters who were laying down on the sidewalk. Sometimes, the patients would cry and walk away. Once, a patient was so angry, I helped her hop a fence to get in. We took a great deal of pride in our work. We were up at 4 a.m. at clinics all over Los Angeles to protect them. We had margaritas after we won.

ACT UP/LA came to help us fight. It's how I started in HIV work. I thought, if they're coming to help us, I'm going to help them. The rest, as they say, is history.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:23 PM on May 31 [72 favorites]


The fundamentalist right have also been laying the groundwork for nipping any sort of Jane in the bud. They've been coming in as feticide laws which are designed to protect wanted pregnancies. That won't stop overzealous DAs tied to the movement (or just chasing their votes) from coming after any sort of illegitimate abortion providers and charging them with murder.

Things are going to get real ugly this generation.
posted by Talez at 12:32 PM on May 31 [5 favorites]


Freedom Uterine!...also a volunteer escort during the Operation Rescue years.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 12:34 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]


I know this comic is more about the subject matter than the art, but I'm just in love with the lettering style. Thanks for posting.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:54 PM on May 31


Previously

... Jesus, that conversation. Metafilter has come a long way in the past decade.

This comic was really wonderful. I look forward to the Comics for Choice anthology mentioned at the end.
posted by Emily's Fist at 12:58 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


I've never understood the concept that motherhood and support for abortion rights should be at odds with each other.

If you've been taught that your only real value lies in your motherhood, then it is intolerable to have other people behave as if it is merely a choice, an option, something you can refuse entirely and still live a happy and worthwhile life. Especially if down deep you know how little the men in your life actually respect you and what you do and consider you mostly as a dispensing unit for miserable sleepless 24/7 menial labor.
posted by praemunire at 1:07 PM on May 31 [4 favorites]


Thank you, that was great. I especially loved two aspects of this:
- the anti-paternalistic ideas: often today abortion is discussed as 'something between a woman and her doctor'. Why does a doctor have any say? (I mean, I understand there are cases where abortion is a purely medical decision, eg aborting a fetus that has passed away or is about to pass, but those are extremely rare, no? Even if a doctor has input, the pregnant person should decide!)

- and how it complements motherhood. I had two very wanted babies, and this, more than any other experience, has made me extremely pro choice.
posted by The Toad at 1:10 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I feel like the progress we made was just because they didn't see it coming and now that they've had a chance to regroup we'll have to come up with completely new tactics that they won't see coming.

I salute Jane and everyone else who did that kind of work. I'm afraid we may need it again and I really think the would-be-Gilead folks are going to be faster-responding now. Rather depressing to consider.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:12 PM on May 31 [3 favorites]


[One comment deleted; if you find yourself saying anything along the lines of "let me, a man who has never been pregnant, tell you, a woman who has been, how to feel about pregnancy"... you should think twice, and then step back from the keyboard.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:14 PM on May 31 [62 favorites]


Another excellent comic from the anthology was published at The Nib: "We Don’t Owe Anyone An Explanation: Two Abortion Stories" by Candice Russell and Laura Lannes. I recommend it for anyone who appreciated the FPP comic.
posted by Emily's Fist at 1:45 PM on May 31 [6 favorites]


God I wish I could favourite your comment 1000 times, LobsterMitten.

Thank you for posting this, Artw. It's fantastic.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:59 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


woah. Jane seems like it was much needed - but having "feelings about the fetus" is not entirely a product of the anti-abortion movement. l hope the women who worked with Jane were not judged and shamed for having feelings about their pregnancies and abortions.
posted by superior julie at 6:13 PM on May 31


You know your mother is awesome when she sends you The Story of Jane for Valentine's Day.

l hope the women who worked with Jane were not judged and shamed for having feelings about their pregnancies and abortions.

They were not. I think the comic makes that clear; if it is not, your local library can get you the book.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:43 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Fundraiser For Comics For Choice. I'm trying to decide if I want to get the ten pack, just so I can donate copies and give away copies.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:25 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Can't remember if I found these short story links through Mefi or not:

Chorus
ILU-486
posted by maryrussell at 7:36 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


If you've been taught that your only real value lies in your motherhood, then it is intolerable to have other people behave as if it is merely a choice, an option, something you can refuse entirely and still live a happy and worthwhile life.

For what it's worth--the anti-abortion movement didn't really kick off until after Roe v. Wade. Abortions were illegal, but the closest thing to an anti-choice movement was the opposition to it by the Catholic Church. Heck, most Protestant denominations--including Evangelicals!--were either neutral or cautiously pro-choice. The formation of the NRLC, twisting anti-choice into a political position and lumping it in with social conservatism, the anti-choice propaganda and the giant pictures of fetuses and all that shit wasn't waiting in the wings. It was consciously created as part of the larger post-60s political mobilization of social conservatives who eventually took over the Republican Party from any remaining Rockefeller Republicans and formed the GOP you see today.

Abortions were primarily shameful and illegal because the need for one was proof that a woman was a dirty, dirty slut. As sexual mores loosened and birth control use became more widespread, fewer and fewer people were willing to believe that line. So what do you do?

Well--you take a page of the Southern Strategy handbook. Same way you switch out the n-word for "state's rights" and "welfare queens", you switch out "dirty, dirty sluts" for "those poor, poor unborn babies."

I'm mentioning this because the anti-choice movement likes to pretend their position has always existed and people have always regarded fetuses as equivalent to live babies and the treatment of them as any less is those horrible liberals and scientists twisting things around to enable mass murder. Don't believe a word of it. The bulk of that crap (and the ferocity with which it is spouted) isn't even a half-century old.*

OK, so now this is getting way off topic, but--just like gun rights, and the environment, and welfare, and a whole host of issues, the ridiculous positions you see some conservatives twisting themselves into today are part of a concerted effort to build power by lumping a bunch of unrelated shit together and turning the propaganda up to 11. We're never going to overcome it if we buy into the line that this is the way it's always been.


*Can you imagine how impossible it would be to be pregnant before the advent of modern medicine if fetus == baby? Given how dangerous pregnancy and birth was, if people literally believed that fetuses were the same as babies then it would necessitate women be on bed rest for at least six months when just regular housekeeping required an astounding amount of hard labor. Society wouldn't be able to tolerate that and keep functioning.
posted by schroedinger at 9:39 PM on May 31 [18 favorites]


I had two very wanted babies, and this, more than any other experience, has made me extremely pro choice.

Unfortunately while many people respond to difficult situations by developing empathy, just as many (more?) people respond to them with an intense desire to inflict similar difficulties upon others.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:09 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


having "feelings about the fetus" is not entirely a product of the anti-abortion movement

No, but thinking those feelings entitle one to dictate what other women do with their own bodies is solely a product of the anti-abortion [anti-choice] movement.

I've had two abortions of two very wanted pregnancies. Believe me, I had many feelings about those fetuses. But I sure as hell don't think those very real feelings mean I get to comment on any other woman's choice to carry or abort her own pregnancy.
posted by Secret Sockdentity at 10:12 PM on May 31 [7 favorites]


I mean, I understand there are cases where abortion is a purely medical decision, eg aborting a fetus that has passed away or is about to pass, but those are extremely rare, no?

Around 1% of pregnancies result in a missed miscarriage. You can wait (ages) for your body to finally realize what's up, or you do what is equivalent to an abortion. Since my missed miscarriage I have realised it is far less rare than you think. We are encouraged not to share our pregnancy news until the second trimester, and most of us never tell the world at large about these procedures.

My missed miscarriage made me very glad this medication and these procedures are available. Carrying a dead fetus was horrifying, and this helped me end it faster.
posted by sadmadglad at 3:15 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]


schroedinger: I often point out that the "we have always been against abortion" position of the evangelical movement is newer than the McDonald's happy meal. Also, the anti-choice position came about just about the time that overt or even covert white supremacy was a bad look for the Southern Baptists et al and so maybe it was time they found another thing to focus on instead.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:34 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]


> We'd go out every Saturday to protect clinics

Sadly, we're still doing that. The group I go with -- which is more low key, fortunately, things aren't as bad as they were then -- is called Jane's.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:51 PM on June 2


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