A Jane Collective for the Trump Era
March 28, 2018 8:04 PM   Subscribe

“Anna started posting on Facebook about abortion, looking for direction. Eventually, a friend reached out to her, offering to introduce her to a woman named Natalie. The two talked on the phone. Anna admired how Natalie spoke with such authority and openness. Natalie liked how casually smart Anna was, how she connected reproductive health care to social justice. After several calls, Natalie told Anna about a side of her life she hadn’t yet shared: She was helping with a workshop on how to provide home abortions. Anna was welcome to attend. She just had to keep it a secret.” A secret network of women is working outside the law and the medical establishment to provide safe, cheap home abortions.
posted by Grandysaur (32 comments total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
 
No matter what humans might design, other humans will find a way to game it...
posted by jim in austin at 8:26 PM on March 28 [2 favorites]


Love too live in 2018.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:27 PM on March 28 [6 favorites]


Until abortion is considered an ordinary medical procedure that women can choose to have whenever they wish, networks like this are necessary and I am pleased they exist.
posted by MovableBookLady at 8:59 PM on March 28 [63 favorites]


A Woman's Book of Choices by Rebecca Chalker and Carol Downer, 1992: contains discussion of menstrual extraction and instructions for building a Del-Em device. Buy a used copy. 1993 article on ME by Rebecca Chalker (PDF). Another page about ME, including 1981 chapter about ME with NSFW illustrations (PDF).

In some countries where abortion is illegal, menstrual extraction is still performed under the euphemism of menstrual regulation.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:06 PM on March 28 [18 favorites]


These women are extraordinary, and this is the kind of tireless heroism that keeps me going.
posted by fritillary at 9:10 PM on March 28 [11 favorites]


We have the worst infant mortality rate in the industrialized world, but we claim to love babies. We can buy all the guns we want but our maternal mortality rate is also the worst among industrialized nations. The Atlantic can hire a dude who thinks women who have abortions should be hanged and call it "ideological diversity."

If you had told 30-years-ago me that 30-years-in-the-future me would find getting gay married to be easier and less expensive than getting an abortion, 30-years-ago-me would have assumed you'd gotten a head injury with all that time traveling. If you'd told past-me that the Jane Collective would be a necessity, I'd have wept.
posted by rtha at 9:20 PM on March 28 [67 favorites]


Menstrual extraction was developed by pre-Roe feminist groups as part of ongoing efforts to make abortion safe and legal, so the practice fell into disuse after Roe v Wade. But the mundane practical effects of menstrual extraction also sound incredibly freakin' useful: from the 1981 PDF excerpt, "Women could free themselves of heavy, crampy periods, or avoid having a period if it would interfere with travel, vacation or perhaps an athletic event [...] When done by an experienced group, [menstrual extraction] can be used simply as a home-care procedure by women wishing to gain knowledge about their bodies and menstrual cycles and to exert more direct control over their reproductive lives."

Get a week's worth of sloughing slimy uterine tissue over with in one hour? Sign me the heck UP.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:27 PM on March 28 [38 favorites]


That whole article read like it was setting the stage for some tragedy or one of them going to jail, I was so relieved when nothing bad happened at the end.

I was also intrigued by the mention of menstrual extraction. I had no idea it was that easy & well-known. I wonder why it's not a service you can get similar to a bikini wax or a dermatology spa? You know that brides-to-be would pay any amount of money you asked for. The only thing I can think of is the disposal? I dunno just pump it right into a toilet and flush? Anna should start marketing herself in the weddings industry.
posted by bleep at 9:58 PM on March 28 [10 favorites]


Oh, it's not a service because it can be so easily used to hide the evidence of your sinful ways. Also, menstruation is icky and we can't really talk about it.
posted by rtha at 10:08 PM on March 28 [10 favorites]


Capitalism: anything to make a buck!!
Also Capitalism: not like that
posted by bleep at 10:14 PM on March 28 [28 favorites]


These women are so strong. They risk so much to help others. I’m in awe.
posted by greermahoney at 11:58 PM on March 28 [4 favorites]


I wonder why it's not a service you can get similar to a bikini wax or a dermatology spa?

Because it can be used for abortions. There's also the "ick blood" factor and other drama, but the main thing is... it will terminate an early pregnancy, possibly before the woman even knows she's pregnant.

We can't be allowing women to be comfortable and pain-free if there's a risk of fewer unwanted babies!

[/sarcasm]
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:23 AM on March 29 [11 favorites]


Thanks for the post. I know everyone here probably knows this but this isn't new to the Trump era sadly.

And hell yeah I want to know more about menstrual extraction! I got vacations to go on this year!
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:41 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Until abortion is considered an ordinary medical procedure that women can choose to have whenever they wish, networks like this are necessary and I am pleased they exist.

...and even if/when this becomes an ordinary medical procedure, I’m pleased there’s an option to do this outside of medical settings, just like homebirth. I think women should be completely in charge of this process and medical gatekeeping doesn’t always necessarily mesh with that.
posted by The Toad at 3:05 AM on March 29 [5 favorites]


Though these women are awesome, it is really depressing that such a network needs to exist in the 21st century. I'd really hate it if my daughters couldn't get proper medical assistance if they needed an abortion.
posted by mumimor at 3:21 AM on March 29 [2 favorites]


Some time ago, I watched the movie Vera Drake, about a woman in the 1950's who performed illegal abortions. I remember thinking: "Well, at least it is not as bad as that now". However, it seems that in some part of the world, things are just as bad today.
posted by greenhornet at 3:30 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]


I'd really hate it if my daughters couldn't get proper medical assistance if they needed an abortion.

We are blessed to have a family doctor who -- if we didn't live in New York -- would likely be organizing a Jane Collective locally. Heck, she's swung by our house to grab a throat swab for strep while on her way to the hospital for something else, and drops it at the hospital lab.
posted by mikelieman at 3:34 AM on March 29 [3 favorites]


If Roe VS Wade were to fall, it wouldn't stop abortions. It would stop safe abortions.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 5:18 AM on March 29 [16 favorites]


But the mundane practical effects of menstrual extraction also sound incredibly freakin' useful:

I also was like “you’re telling me there’s a way this can be over with in an hour and I’m still bleeding five days like a shmuck?”
posted by corb at 5:38 AM on March 29 [14 favorites]


How can I help these women? Or join them.
posted by schadenfrau at 5:50 AM on March 29 [6 favorites]


OMG! These women are awesome!
posted by evilDoug at 6:31 AM on March 29


Sadly, after what I heard about the new law passed in Indiana, I was just thinking last night that it might be safer for women to get abortions outside of the established American medical system. And, voila.

I can't believe this country.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:09 AM on March 29 [3 favorites]


Sending this article to a friend who is in the final stages of becoming a doula.

ETA: I have no idea if she would consider offering this service. I just want to raise her awareness that this is another form of support that some doulas and midwives provide. My social circle skews just a tad crunchy and this is something no one in my circle has ever discussed. I want this information to be out there, in case someone needs it.
posted by vignettist at 8:02 AM on March 29 [4 favorites]


Back around the turn of this century I worked at a reproductive rights organization that ran a conference every year and a menstrual extraction session (explanation only, I believe) was part of it. This was back when in the wake of the Supreme Court decision on Webster and Dubya's anti-choice rhetoric we were saying, "Look, the right is trying to chip away at your right to choose!" and being dismissed with "Oh, they'll never overturn Roe."

You know what they say: I can't believe I still have to protest this shit.
posted by camyram at 9:09 AM on March 29 [5 favorites]


Every time we talk about the (amazing!) Jane here I am reminded of the time in 2014 when we talked about DIY abortions here and I was like, "huh, maybe we're heading into bad waters here and should be getting on the ball with the modern version." And now I look back at that comment blankly and think, "sweet summer child, you had no idea how much scarier things were going to look in four years."

I am so glad there are people providing these services. I'm so horrified that it's still necessary.
posted by Stacey at 9:28 AM on March 29 [9 favorites]


I was reading that with my heart in my throat, herbalism may not be peer-reviewed and can be quite dangerous, but she did (finally) mention misoprostol (Mifegymisol in Canada) as an alternative. I don't understand why it is considered normal for everyone to know what Viagra and Xanax is but not a safe pill that can end pregnancy in the privacy of your home. It took a long time for Canada to approve but it is finally available for free, right over the counter from the pharmacist. Clearly there needs to be education about surgical abortion alternatives.
posted by saucysault at 11:20 AM on March 29 [7 favorites]


This sort of sharing of information has been going on for some time. Via zinelibraries.info: Zines from the 1990s through 2008 on Herbal Abortion and Menstrual Extraction
posted by larrybob at 11:25 AM on March 29 [1 favorite]


This should probably go in the fucking fuck thread, but I am so goddamm ENRAGED that people who can get pregnant still can't get reproductive medical care like an actual human being. Fuck all of this.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:33 AM on March 29 [6 favorites]


I have reached out to people I know here in the midwest, to see if there are any tendrils reaching here now. I had a second trimester abortion when I was 23, for a fetus that was anencephalic. That wouldn't even be a possibility for me now.

It destroys me to think of the people who are pregnant with non-viable fetuses that they will be forced to carry til miscarriage or birth. It destroys me to think of the unwanted, unplanned, unexpected pregnancies that can't be terminated legally, easily, and safely.

Finally, it destroys me to think that 20 years after my abortion that my daughters have only a sliver of the reproductive options that I had. We have gone backwards, and we have to stop this slide.
posted by headspace at 11:41 AM on March 29 [15 favorites]


I was fascinated to learn that the original ban on abortion was about physicians stepping on the competition from midwives. "of course it is" everything that is considered immoral by the wingnuts now has it's original roots in racism or misogyny in the mid distant past.
posted by Megafly at 4:22 PM on March 29 [4 favorites]


she did (finally) mention misoprostol (Mifegymisol in Canada) as an alternative.

I wish more women knew about medical (ie, non-surgical) abortion options. You take one pill at the provider's office, and then the next one within 72 hours at home. It's not the funnest experience ever (apparently, I have not done it myself) but it's an alternative. Of course, it is still subject to the same regulations as other kinds of abortions here in the US.

Abortion is too medicalized in the US. Even a surgical abortion these days is a very simple, short, non-invasive procedure with very low risk of complications. Anti-choicers have pushed a lot of the medicalization as a way of making it harder for providers to function, but I think pro-choicers and providers have also ceded a lot of this ground for fear of looking like they aren't taking women's health seriously. The deck is still stacked so strongly against abortion advocates.

I hate the idea of back-alley or back-channel abortions, but I can't blame women for going a route like this, even in places where legal abortion is available, because the alternative too often is paying $500, spending an entire day in a clinic, and maybe getting harassed by some "Christians" as a bonus. If you can't afford to take a day off work, I can see how this would seem like a good alternative.
posted by lunasol at 6:50 PM on March 29


the alternative too often is paying $500, spending an entire day in a clinic, and maybe getting harassed by some "Christians" as a bonus.

I once helped a desperate woman pay that enormous sum - not alone, a lot of her female friends chipped in - which some people say is a irrevocable sin of procuring an abortion. All I can say is that I refuse to believe in or obey any god that would damn me for that.
posted by corb at 8:15 PM on March 29 [6 favorites]


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