Nearly two months after the Supreme Court overturned its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion, Hollywood is dramatizing the story of the Janes, a group of women who in the 1960s had secretly assisted others in obtaining process illegally. Chicago, in the new movie Call Jane.
The trailer for the new film, starring Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver, Chris Messina, Wunmi Mossaku and Kate Mara, was dropped on Tuesday. In it, we see Banks as Joy, a woman facing a dangerous pregnancy who is required by law to seek approval from a table full of men to terminate the pregnancy. One of the men asks the other – and not Joy, even though she’s sitting across from them – “Is there any chance she can survive the pregnancy?” And another answered, “Maybe 50 percent.” They decide that happiness can’t have an abortion, so she calls Janes for help.
After her experience with the group, Joey joins them, though of course she has to keep her involvement a secret, even telling her husband, played by Messina, that when she was actually with Janes. He was in art class. Later, we see her facing questions not only from her husband but also from a detective.
The Janes struggle with the pressure from the authorities but are determined to help as much as they can; The women at one point debate whether to help an 11-year-old girl, a woman with cancer or a rape victim. There are also problems internally, as when the group’s only black member, Gwen of Mosaku, laments how “the economy always seems to mean that black women get screwed.”
Jane’s story was recounted in an HBO documentary called Simple JanesThe controversial decision was released just two weeks before it came down.
Tia Lessin, who co-directed Doc with Emma Pildes, told Yahoo Entertainment ahead of the release, “They were very cloak and dagger, you know. They were sneaky.” “These are women in their 20s and early 30s who have had a whole bag of things, from obtaining unlicensed medical supplies to sheltering and protecting the women they served. I think the amazing thing is that they were all, at that young age, willing. To take the risk. I mean… it’s beyond civil disobedience, you know?”
The fictionalized version of Jane’s story is directed by Phyllis Nagy, who was nominated for an Oscar for her screenplay for the 2015 film. carol.
Call Jane Hitting theaters on October 28.