It all started in 1968; a time of great political and social unrest of stark sides with different views. And the thing is, even as much as women wanted to be involved in these causes, there wasn't much room for them to get involved because men were blocking their way in. While the medical study and practice of gynecology were largely dominated by men, the women who would later form Jane decided that this would be the issue they could take on as their own.
They had to come up with a name for their group as women would need a name to call up on the telephone. A member, Eleanor Oliver, offered up her home phone number to be used, but they couldn't just be calling up and asking for Eleanor.
"How about Jane?" Eleanor said. "Nobody's called Jane anymore and it's a nice, simple name. And that's where Jane came from."
The message on the machine went a little like this: "If you have a message for the Olivers or for Jane, please leave your name and number and we will call you back."
"Like she lived there," Eleanor added.
The Janes would take care of everything for the patient: from picking her up and driving her to the location (which changed often for security reasons), bringing her to the waiting room, doing a consultation, talking her through each part of the process during the abortion, driving her back home, and following up for two weeks afterward.
"We were really ordinary women and we were trying to save women's lives," Laura, a member of Jane, said. "We wanted every woman who contacted us to be the hero of her own story."
They would keep individual notecards for each woman's information that they received including her name, how many weeks along she was, how much money she had to spend on the abortion, special notes to consider, and what she was feeling. Words like "afraid of pain," "terrified," and "be cautious, the father is a cop" were just a few that appeared.
And about that last note, Jane was able to go by unbothered for about four years solely because of the women who were coming to them for abortions.
"The clientele of Jane included daughters, wives, mistresses of police, State's attorney, judges—it had to be hands-off," Michael, a Jane husband, said. "They couldn't have worked the way they did and as long as they did with no interference at all—without that."