“The Janes” co-director Emma Pildes, original “Jane” Judith Arcana and abortion clinic owner DeShawn Taylor M.D. discussed the status of abortion rights and how the story of a 1970s underground provider network made its way to the screen, as part of TheWrap’s Power Women Summit 2022 on Wednesday.
“I mean, the timing was pretty remarkable and unfortunate,” Pildes told moderator Jodie Sweetin of the film’s premiere, which coincided with the leak of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“We just kind of felt like, as filmmakers, it was about doing what you can. That’s what activism is,” the co-director added.
Sweetin, an actress and activist herself, asked Arcana what she carries with her from her experiences as a Jane.
Before responding, Arcana said that she used to refer to the Janes in the past tense, until one of her “sister Janes” corrected her.
“She said, ‘No — once a Jane, always a Jane.’ And ever since she said that to me, I’m a Jane,” she said, to cheers and applause from the audience.
Arcana elaborated on the highly personal nature of her involvement in the fight to protect womens’ bodily autonomy.
“When I joined the service, I was 27 years old,” she continued. “And I joined out of what was going on actually in the nation, I think as well as in my life, was a rising tide of consciousness. And the overt deliberate choices — I use that word a lot — choices to take in a variety of circumstances, in our case around abortion health care. Another [reason] is, I’m a person that’s had an abortion. I’m a mother who had a baby on purpose,” she said, referring to her son Daniel Arcana, a producer of “The Janes.”
Reflecting on her lifelong “entanglement with Jane work,” Arcana noted that “we need to consider what law is and what the law means. So when people say to us, how could you break the law or too afraid about breaking the law? There’s a whole lot of thinking and major conversation that goes with that.”
DeShawn Taylor, who runs a family planning clinic in Arizona agreed, reflecting on the dire state of abortion healthcare in the United States today.
In 2009, a “whole suite” of abortion restrictions were signed into law, followed by successive restrictions almost every year since.
“Many times, independent clinics are the only clinics still providing [abortions] in [Arizona] and then also generally fighting the legal challenges,” she said. “There are 14 states right now that don’t have abortion rights.”
To wrap things up, Sweetin asked the panelists if they see underground abortion networks making a comeback, given the current political climate. Taylor said it’s already happening. “We’ve been here. People have been self-managing their abortions.”
“Honestly, it is safe,” she added. “Post-Roe doesn’t look the same as pre-Roe for sure, in terms of people’s ability to get an abortion clinic. But what’s a problem is that when something goes wrong, there is a fear of getting help.”
The Power Women Summit (PWS) is the largest annual gathering of the most influential women in entertainment, media and technology. The event aims to inspire and empower women across the landscape of their professional careers and personal lives. This year’s PWS provides two days of education, mentorship, workshops and networking around the globe – to promote this year’s theme, “A Time to Unite.” Learn more here: thewrap.com/pws.