In 1965, before women in America had the constitutional right to choose abortion, a then 19-year-old student at the University of Chicago helped a friend find a doctor who was willing to carry out the procedure illegally.
With desperate women putting their lives in danger by seeking back-alley terminations, it wasn’t long before more were contacting Heather Booth. She quickly realised the demand for the service, and couldn’t handle it on her own.
And so the Jane Collective was set up: an underground network of women who helped other women facing unwanted pregnancies find safe access to abortion. Eventually, some of the members learned enough to carry out the procedures themselves.
The secret group worked together to provide an estimated 11,000 to 12,000 women and girls with safe and secure abortions before the landmark 1973 ruling known as Roe v Wade, which legalised abortion in the US.
Rape victims, women whose pregnancies were putting their own lives at risk, single mothers who couldn’t afford another child, young women who simply lacked education about birth control – there was no judgement. Women did not have to justify their reasons for not wanting to go through with their pregnancies.
Now, the story of the Janes is being told in a new film, Call Jane, starring Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver and Wunmi Mosaku.
Banks plays Joy, a wife and mother to a teenage daughter who finds a much-wanted second pregnancy has become life-threatening. When a board of male doctors