‘Call Jane’ Takes Us Back To The 1960s When Abortion Was A Crime — And It’s More Timely Than Ever

The film is a chilling reminder of why abortion access is so vital.
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Abortion has been a globally-divisive topic for decades. Most recently, we saw the landmark decision of Roe v Wade officially overturned in the United States—removing the protection of a woman’s right to seek a safe, legal abortion.

The decision set women back decades, specifically to a time when abortion was illegal and women’s rights to bodily autonomy were subject to others. At its core, the film Call Jane taps into such matters and explores the lengths to which women went to seek unsafe, unlawful abortions.

Set in 1968 Chicago, five years before the passage of Roe v. Wade, Call Jane stars Elizabeth Banks as Joy, a happily married suburban housewife who is pregnant with her second child, but faces complications that give her a 50 per cent survival rate. 

After she’s met by an all-male hospital board whose only concern is for the health and survival of the baby—and not the mother—she’s forced to take matters into her own hands.

The compelling tale tackles the issue of abortion rights (or lack thereof) in a time when abortion was still a criminal act. The recent repeal of Roe v. Wade and the lack of access women and girls in some US states are now facing only makes this film even more prescient.

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Elizabeth Banks stars as Joy in Call Jane. (Credit: Prime Video)

What is Call Jane about?

Set amid the political and civil upheaval in 1968 Chicago, Joy, a conservative housewife and mother, is faced with a devastating diagnosis when her second pregnancy leads to a life-threatening heart condition.

As per the official synopsis, she’s denied an exemption for an abortion, which is, by law, illegal, by an all-male hospital board. Joy’s search for a solution leads her to meet Virginia, an independent visionary fiercely committed to women’s health.

Led by Virginia and Gwen, an activist who envisions a day when all women will have access to safe, affordable abortions, this community of women, who call themselves the ‘Janes’, ignites an awakening in Joy. Inspired by their compassion and commitment, she joins them, putting every aspect of her life on the line.

As it highlights an issue that continues to be relevant for many people across various parts of the world, Call Jane is a story of courage, community and coming of age—even in your 40s.

WATCH BELOW: The Janes Trailer | BINGE

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Who were the ‘Janes’?

While largely based on fictional characters and situations, Call Jane draws inspiration from the real-life Janes, a Chicago-based collective that operated from 1969 to 1973 under the official name of the Abortion Counseling Service of Women’s Liberation.

The group helped women get safe and secure abortions in the late 1960s, when the procedure was illegal, but stopped its activities when Roe v. Wade guaranteed the constitutional right to get an abortion in 1973.

As for the name, Jane came about when the group moved to spread awareness of their service and Eleanor Oliver, one of the members, proposed using a pseudonym. “How about Jane?” she recalls in the documentary, The Janes. “Nobody’s called Jane anymore, and it’s a nice, simple name.”

If you’d like to learn more about the extraordinary women and their efforts in greater detail, you can watch The Janes on BINGE here, ahead of the release of Call Jane.

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Sigourney Weaver takes on the role of Virginia. (Credit: Prime Video)

Who is cast in Call Jane?

Call Jane stars Elizabeth Banks as Joy, the pregnant protagonist, Sigourney Weaver as Virginia, the leader of the Janes (an underground abortion provider group), Chris Messina as Joy’s husband Will, Wunmi Mosaku as Gwen, a key ally for the Janes, and Cory Michael Smith as Dean, a doctor who performs abortions for women in need.

You can also expect to see Kate Mara, Grace Edwards, John Magaro, Kristina Harrison, Rebecca Henderson, Aida Turturro, Evangeline Young, Geoffrey Cantor and Alison Jaye among this very talented cast.

Where and when can I watch Call Jane in Australia?

Call Jane originally premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival in January, before it was released in the United States on October 28 in limited theatres.

However, it will finally be available to stream exclusively on Prime Video Australia from Friday, 25 November 2022, so you might want to sign up here if you havent already.

Stream Call Jane on Amazon Prime, live and on demand with a 30 day free trial. Start your free trial here.

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