Jane: An Abortion Service
Today it's hard to remember when abortion was illegal. But before the Roe vrs. Wade court decision of 1973, women with unwanted pregnancies faced difficult choices.
Women with money could travel to a country where abortion was legal. Those without that option could take their chances with illegal abortionists in this country. Others tried dangerous self-induced abortions, making the coat hanger a national symbol of women's desperation. Each year an estimated 5,000 women died from botched abortions.
The Abortion Counseling Service of Women's Liberation, better known by its nickname "Jane", began as an underground referral group. Eventually they decided to perform the abortions themselves.
Jane members estimate that they performed more than 11,000
illegal abortions. Working under difficult clandestine
conditions, Jane became legendary on the streets of Chicago
for the quality of its care and the dedication of its
This section of our website is dedicated to Ruth Surgal ("Big Jane") 1937-2004
Articles about Jane: Includes both articles written at the time as well as more modern material.
from Jane: Includes the original Jane brochure,
a CWLU Steering Committee Report and a song