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The Abortion Counseling Service ("Jane")
by Judith Arcana

The Abortion Counseling Service of the Chicago Women's Liberation Union, often called "Jane" in histories of women's health in the USA, worked with more than eleven thousand women and girls (the youngest under twelve, the oldest over fifty), all of whom came to the Service for abortions before the Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade in late January of 1973.

Unusual among CWLU work groups in that its activities were criminal and therefore secret, the Service was a clear example of women's struggle for liberation. The Service began in the mid-1960's with personal research and referrals by a college student, and grew into a group that counseled women and then performed abortions for those who chose to abort so that shortly after the Roe decision in 1973, when the group disbanded, they were closing an underground abortion clinic created and operated entirely by laywomen.

Though Service members (also called "Jane's") came and went over the years, holding a broad variety of political opinions and often disagreeing passionately, all agreed that women should have babies only when we want them and abortions when we need them; all believed that women have to educate ourselves and take control of our lives.

See also:The Jane Special Feature for more information.

Judith Arcana
is a member to the CWLU Herstory Website and a former member of the Abortion Counseling Service. Today she is a well known author, poet and professor of literature who currently resides in the Pacific Northwest.