On Jan. 22, the United States marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. That same week, Doc Films at the University of Chicago hosted a screening and discussion of the documentary The Janes, which tells the story of an underground collective of women in Chicago who provided abortions for about 11,000 women from 1968 to 1973—a time when abortion was a crime in most states.
The Jan. 26 event, moderated by WBEZ’s Natalie Moore, included Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton as well as former members of the group known as the Jane Collective. They discussed the film, their work as activists and the future of abortion rights, which has taken on new urgency for many in a post-Roe America.
“For almost 50 years, I believed we as a country were making some progress. Not enough progress by any means, but we were making progress,” said panelist Heather Booth, AB’67, AM’70, who founded the Jane Collective while a student at the University of Chicago. “And we are now on a knife’s edge, truly in the struggle between freedom and a racist authoritarian rule.”