EXCLUSIVE: There are now two ‘Jane’ underground projects on their way in Hollywood. An indie film Ask For Jane is just now getting underway in New York from Cait Johnston and co-starring this year’s Emmy-nominated actress Alison Wright (The Americans). That follows a very similar project from Amazon, who bought a spec titled This is Jane based on Laura Kaplan’s non-fiction book The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service. Amazon picked that up earlier this year.
Both projects are based on the historic true story of the underground abortion network in Chicago created by college called The Jane Collective, which helped over 11,000 women get illegal abortions in Chicago between 1969 and 1973 before Roe v. Wade allowed legal abortions. The indie film will also feature a cameo from Judith Arcana, a writer, activist and real life member of The Janes, who is acting as a consulting producer on the film.
Ask For Jane is currently shooting and stars producer Johnston (The Knick, Ripped!), Sarah Ramos (Parenthood, Midnight, Texas), the aforementioned Wright (who was also in Feud: Bette and Joan), Cody Horn (Magic Mike, Demonic), Sarah Steele (Spanglish, The Good Wife, The Humans), Chloe Levine (The Transfiguration, Netflix’s The OA) and Ben Rappaport (Mr. Robot, For the People & Hope Springs).
The film was written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Rachel Carey. The female-focused film is produced by Carolines Entertainment’s Caroline Hirsch (founder of Carolines on Broadway comedy club) and NYEH Entertainment’s Josh Folan (The Light of the Moon).
In 2016, filmmaker Carey and Johnston’s limited series Ask for Jane was one of three finalists chosen in the New York Television Festival Works 4 Progress Initiative with Participant Media.
The film follows both the women and men who, during this time in America when abortions were illegal, reproductive rights were being challenged and birth control wasn’t easily accessible or morally accepted, worked behind the scenes to keep reproductive rights for all women by helping women attain abortions. The ‘Janes’ wrote their own rules and damned the law.
“So many of the lawmakers trying to restrict abortion access (today) have never even considered the disparate reasons why a woman might be driven to seek one,” said creator, producer and star Johnston. “Ask For Jane beautifully depicts a few of their stories, and illustrates how vital it is to keep this procedure legal and safe,”
“Ask For Jane is an incredibly impactful and timely story, that inspires us to act and protect,” said producer Caroline Hirsch, “At a time when women still struggle for reproduction rights, we cannot wait to bring the actions of such a brave group of women and men to the screen as a reminder that we need to continue fighting.”
Ask for Jane is produced by Hirsch, Folan and Johnston; executive producers are Raptor Films’ Cathleen Ihasz and Nicole Ihasz.