Nearly two months after the Supreme Court overturned its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion, Hollywood is dramatizing the story of the Janes, a group of women who secretly helped others to obtain the procedure illegally in 1960s Chicago, in the new movie Call Jane.
The trailer for the new film, which stars Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver, Chris Messina, Wunmi Mosaku and Kate Mara, dropped Tuesday. In it, we see Banks as Joy, a woman facing a dangerous pregnancy, whom the law requires to receive approval from a table full of men in order to terminate the pregnancy she's carrying. One of the men asks the others — and not Joy, even though she's sitting right in front of them — "Is there a chance that she can survive the pregnancy?" and another replies, "Maybe 50 percent." They decide that Joy cannot get an abortion, so she calls the Janes for help.
After her own experience with the group, Joy joins them, although of course she has to keep her involvement a secret, even telling her husband, played by Messina, that she was in art class when she was really with the Janes. Later, we see her facing questions not just from her husband but from a detective too.
The Janes struggle with the pressure from the authorities but remain determined to help as many 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, like when the sole Black member of the group, Mosaku's Gwen, laments how "economics always seems to mean that Black women get screwed."
The story of the Janes was recounted in an HBO documentary, called simply The Janes, released just two weeks before the controversial decision came down.
"They were very cloak-and-dagger, you know. They were sneaky," Tia Lessin, who co-directed the doc with Emma Pildes, told Yahoo Entertainment ahead of the release. "These are women in their 20s and early 30s who had a whole bag of tricks, from obtaining medical supplies without a license to shielding and protecting the women they served. I think what's surprising is that they all, at that young age, were willing to take the risk. I mean... this goes beyond civil disobedience, you know?"
The fictionalized version of the Janes' story is directed by Phyllis Nagy, who was nominated for an Oscar for her screenplay for 2015 movie Carol.
Call Jane arrives in theaters Oct. 28.