Abortion and the underground

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Jane Organizer’s Guide



© Paula Kamen 2003

Image by Estelle Carol, Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, adapted from original poster, circa 1970
Organizer’s Guide


Paula Kamen


Playwright & Author

Nikki Gruis


Guide Organizer


December 2003

  • Pre-Event Organizing/Publicity Checklist 3

  • Playwright’s Note 5

  • From One Organizer to the Next: A Note from Guide Organizer 7

  • Synopsis of Jane 9

  • Everyone Could Use a Little Help: Delegating Production

Responsibilities 12

  • Venue 13

  • Casting 14

  • Production Options 15

  • Fundraising 16

  • Visibility: Posters & Flyers 17

  • Publicity: Media Advisory, Press Release, & LTEs/Op-Eds 18

  • Additional Resources 20

  • Sample Contract 22

  • Sample Press Advisory 23

  • Sample Press Release 24

  • Sample Program (2 pages) 25

  • Sample Flyer (Audition Call Sheet) 27


Steps to Putting on a Production

  1. REGISTER/SCRIPT/CONTRACT Be sure to have everything OKed for your production with playwright Paula Kamen. You will need to ask for a copy of the script (which you must agree to not circulate beyond your group and not change) so that you can read through it and get a more in depth look at “Jane.” Once you have had a chance to see the script, you will need to re-contact Paula in order to obtain a contract from her to do any form of a production. When you contact her you will need to include your postal address or fax number (in order for her to send you the contract) as well as the possible date/s of the performances, and whether you will be doing a reading or a full production. The contract must be signed and returned to Paula before you can put the production on. For a copy of the contract and script contact Paula via email: PaulaK2289@aol.com (NOTE: included in this guide is a sample contract so that you know in advance what to expect)

  2. TIME PREP Prepare yourself to work. Depending on how big you want the production to be, the event could take one to three months to put together. Develop a timeline and stick to it.

  3. GET HELP Involve others. Find a co-organizer or assistants who are willing to help.

  4. PLAN MEETING Plan your first organizer meeting. Here you can determine how you want/need to delegate responsibilities such as who is in charge of fundraisers, publicity, decide what kind of performance you would like to do, etc.

  5. VENUE Find a free/cheap site to put on the production. University campuses usually have many resources for students to use.

  6. SPONSORS Invite local women’s organizations/clubs/programs to join your team by having them co-organize, sponsor, publicize or just attend the event. Some may be able to contribute to costs (if there are any), especially if it is a fundraiser for them or another cause. Ask each group to bring their members to the production!

  7. EQUIPMENT If the site is large or the crowd will be big, buy/borrow/rent from anyone who has the equipment you’ll need, such as chairs, mike, stage sets, props.

  8. PHOTOGRAPHING/VIDEOTAPING Taking photos and/or having your production videotaped are great ways to document the event. They can be used for future PR or as mementos of the production. Ask friends or your local paper to come to the event to take photographs. Most schools have a Media Services Department which allows students to rent/check out a camcorder or some even send out some of their own employees to tape it for you.

  9. SECURITY ISSUES It is strongly recommended that you call campus security (if production is on campus) well in advance and inform them of your production plans. Campus security is usually notified of campus events and they plan to make rounds and check to see if the peace is being kept. It is a good idea that you speak to the head of security and ask for them to pay special attention to your event or to have security personnel standing outside during the performance. You could go as far as alerting the police department about your production – this is ideal if you are having your production off campus and do not have access to campus security. Another possibility is to have facilitators at your event; they can keep the audience under control, tell of the sequence of events, and assist in a discussion either before or after your event. Although past “Jane” performances have not had security problems, when dealing with Pro-Choice issues there is always the possibility of something happening. Imagine all the things that could possibly go wrong and plan contingencies in advance. These are just measures that should be taken to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.

  10. MENTAL/PHYSICAL PREPARATION You will want to prepare yourself and your cast/production help of the idea that protesters and pro-lifers/anti-choicers may make an appearance at your production and events. This is nothing to be alarmed about, just be sure to not overlook this. This shows the importance of step #9.

  11. STAND PROUD You have decided to undertake an awesome and ultimately rewarding task. You are honoring the women of the Jane Collective by doing a production.

Pre-Event Publicity Checklist
FLYERS Make eye-catching paper fliers and post them everywhere that you can! Suggestions for making them ‘pop out’ at passersby: make copies of them on crazy colors instead of blah white (they’ll stand out even more against a wall of other people’s white flyers); include a catchy title on the flyer.

SPREAD THE WORD Email or send flyers to groups and organizations that might be interested in your performance. Some college campuses have “all student email systems” which you can forward your message so that everyone on campus will receive an email about your event. Check with school reps about this one.

PERFECT YOUR WRITING SKILLS Create a Letter to the Editor, Op/Ed, Press Advisory, and Press Release (more info on these in the Publicity section of this guide) and send them out to any and all newspapers in your area.

In 1992, I stumbled upon what any decent reporter would instantly recognize as a really good story. While serving on a panel about “the future of the women’s movement” for a women’s professional groups, I heard another speaker, a prominent Chicago psychologist, talk briefly about her very unusual activism from her youth. She had taken part in an underground service, “Jane,” which performed thousands of illegal abortions from 1969 to 1973.
Pretty soon, I found out that the story of “Jane” is very famous, even legendary, in pro-choice circles but not widely known elsewhere. I was astonished that this group was “the best kept secret in Chicago,” as it was termed, operating with referrals by clergy, hospital staff, social workers, administrators and the police. I wondered: how could a group of young bourgeois housewives and student radicals, most of whom were near my age at the time, manage to pull it all off? What drove them to take so many extreme risks for women who were complete strangers? As a writer covering women’s changing choices from generation to generation, I was also interested to convey to young women what the term “back-alley” really meant, about the harrowing Handmaid’s Tale-like reality that Chicago women faced just 30 years ago (and could face again, soon). I thought a play would well recount this story, to fully reveal the great dramas faced by women seeking abortions at that time, and the complexities and contradictions of the dynamic central characters, who were almost all mothers at the time.
In the spirit of my journalism background, I have tried to make this play as accurate of a documentary as possible, to most fully reflect the almost unbelievable realities of this era. I based it on transcripts of interviews I conducted in the early 1990s, of women who both used and ran Jane. The text of the play, rewritten many times over the years, interweaves these oral histories from the interview transcripts with fictionalized dialogue and documents from the era, such as newspaper stories, an actual Chicago Women’s Liberation Union pro-abortion rights street-theater script and this umbrella group’s internal correspondence about “The Abortion Seven.”
I found these subjects through acquaintances, chance meetings, notices I placed the Chicago Tribune and Defender, and, when all else failed, the trusty old Chicago phone book. Like a reporter doing any other story, when I approached sources for the first time, I met both resistance (especially from those who had kept silent for years to outsiders about their participation in this “illegal service” and warm enthusiasm. Striving for accuracy, I have made as few composite characters as possible. And, I have also included some critical voice of The Service (as “Jane” was called”). However, I do recognize that I had to make some minor alterations to tailor the story to the stage, and that many Jane members do have different interpretations of the events, such as who first thought of the name “Jane.”
This play was first produced in Chicago in 1999 by the Green Highway Theater Company. And the research has paid off in other ways. It was used by the makers of the 1995 documentary Jane: An Abortion Service (distributed through Women Make Movies in New York City), and by Leslie Reagan, author of When Abortion was a Crime (University of California Press, 1997), about 100 years of illegal abortion in Chicago. I was especially gratified that the 81-year old Rev. E. Parsons (former head of the Clergy Consultation Service, which referred women out of state for legal abortions), who was interviewed for the play, has donated his papers to Northwestern University’s Special Collections Library, which also houses my interview transcripts.
For those curious to learn more about this remarkable era in Chicago and feminist history, only recently have some other valuable resources become available – including Laura Kaplan’s intensive chronicle Jane (University of Chicago Press, 1995). Other important sources about Heather Booth and the earliest organizers of women’s liberation in the late 1960s in Chicago are the essay by Booth, Naomi Weisstein and others in the Feminist Memoir Project (Three Rivers Press, 1998), and the historical Daring to be Bad, by Alice Echols (University of Minnesota Press, 1989). Also check out the new Chicago Women’s Liberation Union “herstory” website, cwluherstory.org.
Also check out the website and documentary films by Sunny Chapman, who was interviewed for this play and is now a filmmaker in New York City: www.sunnychapman.com/media
Finally, I wish to thank all the generous people interviewed for this script. And I appreciate the dedication of the students that are making this production possible, who are committed to keeping our history alive, so that we can avoid repeating some very recent struggles.

BIO: Paula Kamen is a Chicago journalist, and the author of the book, Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution (Broadway Books, 2002; NYU Press, 2000). Excerpts of “Jane” have been printed in The Best Women’s Monologues 1999 and The Best Stage Scenes 1999, both published by Smith & Kraus. She has published satire, criticism and commentary in about a dozen anthologies, the Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and many other publications. Her first book, Feminist Fatale, published in 1991, was noted as the first “third wave” feminist book, exploring young women’s attitudes toward feminism. Born in Chicago and raised in suburban Flossmoor, she is a 1989 graduate of the University of Illinois and since 1994 has been a “visiting research scholar” with Northwestern University’s Gender Studies program. Her website is www.paulakamen.com.


A Note from Nikki Gruis: Guide Organizer

Just a little over one year ago, I began planning campus events for what I thought could possibly be the last anniversary of Roe v Wade, considering who are current President is. At the time I was a campus co-representative for Minnesota NARAL, had a variety of planned Pro-Choice events under my belt already, and was looking forward to organizing, celebrating and commemorating the 30th anniversary of this pivotal landmark case. Because of the constant threat and scare of a possible overturning of Roe, my co-rep and I wanted to make the 30th anniversary of Roe especially poignant and remembered in our little college campus town of Winona, Minnesota. We had already decided that we wanted to make a lasting impression by celebrating the anniversary with a week full of events, but we had yet to determine what we would do on each of the days.

One day while searching the website feministcampus.org, I came across an announcement about this phenomenal play, “Jane: Abortion and the Underground” by Paula Kamen, and once I read the synopsis of the play I was hooked – I had to put on a production of this play. Although it can be a very daunting task to undertake the production of a play, we did not let our theatrical inexperience or limited timeframe get in the way of doing some form of a production.

When my campus performed it last year it ended up being a huge hit and success, it had the biggest turnout out of all three of our planned events. The catch here was that we did not even do a full scale performance of the play; instead we did a modified reader’s theater in which we read from the script on stage while doing sketch performance. We certainly were not expecting such a big turnout, we were thinking somewhere in the ballpark of about 50-75 people, but instead almost 200 people came to the performance. I have included here a brief abstract (as well as a copy of our program, press release and media advisory at the end of this guide) of how we did our performance, as to show “Jane” producer hopefuls who are hesitant about going through with this that it is not as intimidating as it seems:

Overview: Since our production was a modified reader’s theater, we did not really have a set at all: we used a recital hall (which is usually used for musical performances, and was free since I was a student) as the stage, and had chairs set up on the stage for each of the performers/readers which the readers used when they were not in the current scene while the actors stood up and ‘acted’ out the scene. We had minimal props – only cell phones for one of the scenes, and a bench and stool for a few other scenes that had procedures in them. Given that we did not have lighting to signify when one act/scene ended and another begun, we had an individual hold up posters which stated what scene/act it was and its title. If the scene called for a specific set (that would ideally be needed) we only used ourselves and the bare stage as our set, besides the few props. When you first think about our set-up, you probably think “Blah,” but I think that by keeping everything minimal, the content of the play had a much bigger impact on the audience as they were not distracted by anything and they were able to focus more on the dialogue and monologues of the characters. Costumes were also kept to the minimum, the cast dressed in a unifying color – black/shades of gray. A major bonus to all of this minimalism is that we pulled it all off without paying a single penny (we printed the programs & flyers off in the campus library so it was free) and it took about 4 weeks to put it all together.

I would like to commend you and your organizing group for deciding upon doing a production of “Jane,” I guarantee that it is a rewarding and learning experience that you will never forget. I was given the opportunity by Paula Kamen to put together this guide for future organizers and with that being known, along with the fact that I have put on a production of “Jane” before, please feel free to contact me with any questions that you have or advice that you might need for your own production.

~ For Choice ~

Nikki Gruis


“We are women whose ultimate goal is the liberation of women in society. One important way we are working toward that goal is by helping any woman who wants an abortion to get one as safely and cheaply as possible under existing conditions.”

- Jane pamphlet, 1969-1973.

“We wanted to create an atmosphere that was empowering in a situation that was normally very disempowering. We wanted to give women some ammunition in their lives, and by acting directly, show them was possible to take action on their own behalf and on behalf of other women.”

- Anonymous, The Jane Collective (from Abortion Without Apology by Nina Baeher, South End Press, 1991).



Copyright Paula Kamen 2001

Drama, two act; at least 9 women (at least 2 African American), at least 3 men (doubling for both genders required); one simple set possible; offers ethnically diverse roles and strong roles for women.

Running Time: Three versions: 2 hours and 10 minutes; 1 hour and 45 minutes; 1 and a half hours (without intermission).

A timely and provocative drama about “the best-kept secret” in Chicago, “Jane,” an underground abortion service that operated from 1969 to 1973. This network, run by a feminist collective of mostly middle-class housewives and students, was the one safe alternative for about 11,000 Chicago women of all backgrounds. In all those years, “Jane,” which boasted no fatalities and operated in private apartments throughout the city, was well trusted by and commonly received referrals from police, university administrators, social workers, clergy, and hospital staff. Writing about the play’s premiere production in fall 1999, Chicago Reader critic Kim Wilson said: “Everyone – but women especially – should hear this story.”

  • World premiere by Green Highway Company at the Chopin Studio Theater, Chicago, August 1999.

  • Production by Millenium Theater Company at the Bartell Theater, Madison, Wisconsin, June 2001.

  • Reader’s theater production, Winona State University, Minnesota, January 2003.

  • Production, Florida State University, Tallahassee, January 2003.

  • Production, College of William and Mary, Virginia, March 2003.

  • Two monologues published in The Best Women’s Monologues 1999 (Smith & Kraus, 2000).

  • Scene published in The Best Stage Monologues 1999 (Smith & Kraus, 2000).

  • Monologue published in Millenium Monologues: Voices of a New Age (Meriwether Press, 2002).

  • Semi-finalist, Moondance Film Festival, Stage Plays Category, named November 2000.

  • Finalist, Columbine non-violence award, Moondance Film Festival, January 2001.


Research for the writing of Jane includes a detailed, original investigation into its past an dozens of interviews with those who were on the scene. This includes patients from various stages of the network and the major leaders. The drama, a historical documentary, is stitched from original interview transcripts, fictionalized reenactments of conversations, and historical documents, such as a script for abortion-rights street theater by the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union and newspaper coverage of “The Abortion Seven.” The research is so valuable that it was used by the makers of the PBS documentary, Jane: An Abortion Service, which aired in 1998 (Author Paula Kamen is credited as providing as much of the film’s research). The interview transcripts, quoted in the 1997 book When Abortion was a Crime (University of California Press), are also on file with the Special Collections Department of the Northwestern University Library.


In its suspenseful drama and occasional dark humor, this play tells an important story of both Chicago and reproductive rights history. Engaged n the ongoing abortion-rights debate, the play presents the much needed and forgotten point of view of women, discussing the real threat to their lives and human dignity when abortion was illegal. The play also connects the group to its roots in the New Left, civil rights and women’s health movements – which become clear even to a non-political audience. Many characters were involved in all these movements, such as Micki, a black civil rights worker who was a legal aide in the Chicago Conspiracy Trial and let “Jane” use her apartment in the Kenwood neighborhood for the procedures. (The play also explores connections to the underground Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, run by E. Spencer Parsons, former dean of Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, interviewed for the play.)

Jane is also about the power of collective action to make change in women’s lives. By cooperating together under stressful circumstances, Jane made a normally traumatic and “criminal” situation into an empowering one, where women often learned for the first time vital information about their own bodies and feminism. Especially in later years, the collective gave personal treatment to patients, giving them health information, such as copies of the first editions of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and emotional support through the process. Jane also was radical in demystifying and taking control of the abortion process, which was considered the exclusive domain of the male medical establishment
Yet, while addressing politics (which are inextricable from the characters’ lives), the play is NOT AN “ISSUE PLAY” – and concentrates on telling stories rather than on polemics. The play explores many complexities of the abortion issue, as well as of the main characters involved, most of whom were mothers at the time. The playwright does not “whitewash” the abortion experience of people who used Jane, often voices critical of this home-grown service. In this play, the complexities of abortion rights are revealed in twists and turns of the plot. Nothing is as it seems on the surface: a minister and pregnant woman are abortion-rights activists; a policewoman knocking on the door of The Service is seeking an abortion, not an arrest; and the abortion doctor revealed not to be a real doctor.
“Jane” was started by Heather Booth (later a leader in the Democratic National Committee), then a leader of campus activism at the University of Chicago, who is credited with forming more early feminist groups than anyone else. Because of her contacts in the civil rights movement, a friend asked her to find a doctor to help his sister, who needed an abortion. Soon, the word spread throughout activist communities of her connection to a doctor, and she found herself setting up a counseling and referral service. When returning calls to women, she used the code name “Jane.” When the workload became too much, she sought the help of other activists, many of whom were drawn to the emerging “women’s liberation” and women’s health movements. Eventually, “Jane” officially became a part of the greater women’s movement by affiliating with the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, a groundbreaking socialist-feminist umbrella organization, founded in 1969.
Gradually, the women of “Jane” (or “The Service”) began assisting the abortionists and learning the procedures on their own. Meanwhile, they found out that the abortionists they were using were not real “doctors,” as promised, further demystifying this previously mysterious procedure. In 1969, they took over performing the abortions themselves, charging less than $100 a piece and helping the poorest women in the city. After a long period of surveillance, in 1972, the police finally busted the Service. But before the much-publicized “Abortion Seven” could go on trial, the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision released them from charges and “Jane” dissolved.


Delegating the Production Responsibilities

A dedicated behind-the-scenes team is pivotal to the success of your production (no matter how big or small).

  • Set up the first meeting as soon as possible: Invite as many people as you can with different backgrounds, interests, and skills to that first meeting. You will need all the help you can get in many different areas so having a large crowd to start with will enable you to put together a core group of dedicated Choicers.

  • Define Roles: As the organizer/director of your event, one of your responsibilities will be to explain “Jane: Abortion and the Underground” and its importance to our lives. Other roles may include, but not limited to:

    • Fundraising Chair – this person could also search for sponsors

    • Venue Scout – search for locations to have your events

    • Publicity Rep – in charge of distributing flyers, LTEs, Press Releases, and Media Advisories

    • Program/Flyer Creator

    • Stage/Set Designer - this role is optional depending on what type of production you plan on having.

    • Complementing Events Coordinator – plan events that would complement your production such as finding speakers for the pre/post-production, planning a panel discussion of Choice, hosting a viewing of a Choice video.

    • Casting Crew – they can also set up the auditions if you plan on having people audition for parts.

  • Communication: Have regular meetings to report progress or possible set-backs to each other and to assess if everyone is on target with their various tasks.

  • Sponsorship: Finding a sponsor for your event/production can take a very large load off of your mind. You may want to begin by first looking at either college departments/programs or groups, or community organizations that can provide some form of funding. Sponsors might also be able to help you, byway of their networking connections, in finding and securing a venue, utilizing campus/community facilities, and promoting the production.

Securing a venue and setting dates gives you something concrete to work with and toward.

  • Finding a Venue: Locate and secure the largest venue that you think you can handle. Don’t underestimate the number of people that will want to come to your event (but keep your attendance expectations realistic) – many organizers of a variety of past events will tell you that they had a full house, with overflow, and wished that they had booked a bigger space. You certainly don’t want to think to yourself after the fact that you wish you could have been able to accommodate more audience members. Possible venue options include:

    • Campus theater – main stage or recital hall

    • Community theater or local arts center

    • Local café – these usually have very limited space so this may be only a viable option for a smaller production such as a Reader’s Theater.

  • What can the venue offer you?: Look at publicity, support, resources, etc. Are there props available that you could use? Is there an in-house stage manager that could offer their help? Sound technician? Lighting? Accessibility for the differently abled? Investigate your options to make sure that you are getting the best resources available.

  • The inevitable – How much does it cost?: Typically, if you are putting together a production and the venue that you wish to have is on a college campus (where you are a student) then you will more than likely be able to book the venue for free or at a discounted rate (schools usually add these minor things in with your tuition – didn’t you always wonder were all that money went???). If you are not a student at the college, then try contacting and networking with a Women’s Studies program/club/group on that campus – they might be very interested in sponsoring the event and you could even get a few more people to help out. If your ideal venue is off-campus, and you don’t necessarily have the funds to pay for it then still try networking with campus or community groups that could offer you sponsorship. Another possibility in waiving the costs of the venue, try striking a deal with the venue manager – perhaps offer a mention of their name in your program in exchange for the waiver. When all else fails – FUNDRAISE!! (see fundraising section)

  • Book the venue NOW!: The sooner the better, in terms of possible sponsorship, advertising and coordinating the event. If you are unsure between a few venue locations, and all of them are free to use at your disposal, then reserve them all. You can always cancel a reservation later when you have more logistical information on the performance.

You are free to cast whomever you choose in your production.

  • Diversity: Although you might be limited by your geographic region, please make every effort to assemble as diverse a cast as possible.

  • Performers: Do not constrain your production by only casting thespians for the performance. Just remember that the Jane Collective was not filled by only abortion doctors or those who had experienced abortion first hand. Another consideration is to open up your casting to all people – students, faculty, community members.

  • Auditions: Auditions are the place to identify people who are well-suited for specific roles in “Jane.” A good idea for when you are holding auditions is to have an open-call and not requiring an audition piece  you may instead opt to supply them with photocopied excerpts of the play itself. Note: it’s best to have multiple roles available (make copies of different parts) and hope that people choose to audition for different roles. Chance is that people have not read or seen “Jane” before so they could just draw out of a pile, audition for no specific part, and then you and your casting crew can make the final call on what part they are to receive. Another note is to possibly have your auditions spanning more than one night in case people cannot make it to one, or if they are unable to make it to any of the auditions then they can have an arranged one-on-one audition with you.

  • Number of Performers: This cast requires a minimum of 11 members: 9 women and 2 men, preferably 5 white women as the leads, 3-6 white women for the supporting roles, an older black woman, a young black woman, one young man, and one older man. If you choose to have only the minimum cast then be aware that your performers will be doubling up on parts.



  • A very basic, cut and dry, type of performance. The performers sit on the stage and just read from the script. This form of production does not require setting/staging/props/costumes besides a seating or standing arrangement for the readers. Although not required, you may opt to have some form of backdrop behind your readers, have the performers were a universal color to signify unity, and bind the script in a non-obvious covering. This also requires a minimal amount of planning time – reserve venue, find your cast, and possible have a few reading run-throughs of the play. Timing and planning approximately = a few weeks to a month.


  • Similar to a regular reader’s theater being that the performers read from the script, but different because of a few modifications. You may still choose to have your performers sit on the stage, but instead of reading from their seats they might get up and act out their lines (when they are in the scene) and interact with the other scene characters (staging/blocking). Props may also be added into this type of performance, but it is suggested that since you are not doing a full-scale production (read: not doing big scene changes) that you should keep the props small and easily movable around the stage. Also, you may want to have the performers to dress alike as suggested under the Reading option. This type of performance may require a bit more planning and time than a Reading or regular Reader’s Theater, but it is still minimal - a little more planning will need to go into stage blocking. Timing and planning approximately = 3 weeks to 1 ½ months. (SEE “FROM ONE ORGANIZER TO THE NEXT” SECTION FOR MORE DETAILS)


  • This form of production is just what the title purveys – a full-scale all-out play production. Most/all of the suggested setting/staging described by Paula Kamen in the script will be utilized. You may want to reach out and ask for help from a local theater department or troupe in getting their assistance and donations for designing the sets and stage as well as borrowing their props/costumes. This may also require securing a venue that has a larger stage. Time and planning = 1 ½ months to 3 months  to allow time for set design and rehearsals (performers do not typically read from scripts so you will want to allot time for line memorization and stage blocking).

Hosting a fundraiser is an excellent way to increase funding for your event, as well as a way to spread the word about your upcoming production. You can tailor the examples here to fit any idea that you have.

  • Bake sales – you could even make these into ‘pay equity’

  • Button sales – if you have access to a button maker

  • T-shirt sales – ask a local t-shirt shop to possibly donate materials and time to create shirts for you to sell

  • Act out street theater and have a donation box handy

  • Write letters to local progressive businesses and ask for any donations that they may be willing to make

  • Silent auction – ask local progressive businesses to donate goods which you can turn around and auction off to the highest bidder. You might also consider auctioning your cast – people pay or “buy” your cast (those willing to participate) to do random tasks such as yard work, babysitting, or cleaning.

  • Car washes – talk to local car washes and ask they would be willing to either give either the full or partial profit made in a day/s.


Communicating Effectively Through Posters/Flyers
1 Know your audience: Tailor your message to each a specific audience (e.g. students, women over 40, communities of faith, etc.)

2 Grab their attention: Rely on fact sheets, pamphlets and books to tell them the full story. Use the poster to motivate supporters to find out more.

3 Stick to the facts: Include date, times and locations for events, and your organization’s/group name and contact info.

4 Consider designing with text only: While graphics are great, a well designed print-only poster offers an effective low-cost alternative. Or to grab attention without adding graphics, print/copy your posters/flyers on colored paper.

5 Balance all of the elements of design: graphics and print

6 Unite the design elements so that they appear as one.

7 Create movement through the poster: design to draw the eye of the observer from the most to the least important parts of the poster/flyer

8 Design an element of surprise to grab your viewer’s attention

9 Produce it with pride: this may be your first impression on a potential supporter. Make it your best!

10 Distribute: put out your flyers at least 3 weeks in advance on campus, in the community, and to organizations.


  • Announcing events: such as a Roe v. Wade vigil or a production of Jane

  • Promoting a service: such as the Providers Expansion Project

  • Educating the public about emerging issues, such as attacks on Choice


  • Compile a list of news contacts who will be interested in your event. Send press releases, advisories, statements, and background information to local papers, news channels, and radio stations. First send out a Media Advisory and then send out a more descriptive story (Press Release) with updates a few days before the event. Follow these up with a phone call or email to make sure that someone is assigned to cover your event. Send local newspapers and public radio stations a public service announcement. Newspapers and radio calendar sections offer free announcements for upcoming events. As soon as you have a firm date, get on those calendars. The morning of the event make quick reminder calls, especially to TV and radio. At your event be sure to have a news release available for reporters on site which quotes your key spokesperson and has data about your event. Lastly, if you have any form of funding, you may want to consider taking out an ad in your local paper.

How to Write a Media Advisory

  • Cover the Who, What, When, Where, and Why details of the event

  • Reel them in – give the press a reason to come to the event

  • Keep it short – stick to the 5 W’s

  • Include contact information

  • Distribute to the press one week before your event.

Tips on How to Write Press Releases:

  • Use your organization/group’s letterhead

  • Pick a catchy headline

  • Stick to the facts

  • Cover the 5 W’s and the 1 H (who, what, when, where, why & how). Also put the most important information in the first paragraph.

  • Keep it short and sweet

  • Distribute press releases the day before or the day of your event preferably, or you can send it out within a week of the event. Do not send it out too far in advance because the press may just shrug the event off.

  • Press releases are generally more or less like an article whereas press advisories are the ‘bare-bones’ of the event.

How to Write Letters to the Editor & Op/Eds

Writing letters to the editor (LTEs) of your campus, local, and state newspapers about your event is a great way to get media coverage and to encourage people to attend. LTEs are the 2nd most-read part of the newspaper after the front page. Here are some tips on how to write LTEs and maximize your chances of getting printed:

  • Keep it short – most papers have a maximum word count of 250 words or less. Check with the paper for more information.

  • If possible, refer to a recent article from the newspaper. When there are no recent articles to write about, try to use a recently released study, quote, or event to refer to (e.g., recent campus event that is relevant to what you are writing about.) Use concrete facts to make your case.

  • Put your contact information, including name, address, and phone number, at the end of the letter so the editor can verify that you are the letter writer.

  • Deliver a copy of your LTE personally to the editor or most papers nowadays have online admittance available.

  • Some newspapers are picky and insist that any letters they publish are “exclusive” to them. Make sure to check on this aspect by calling your local newspapers.

  • Don’t forget to include your address and phone number. Some publications will want to call to confirm that you wrote the letter before they publish it.

Op-eds or opinion pieces provide an opportunity to write a longer piece expressing your viewpoint on controversial issues. While most papers accept unsolicited opinion pieces, it often pays to ask ahead of time. Tips for op-eds:

  • While longer than LTEs, op-eds should still be concise and to the point. Ask the newspaper for guidelines, but in general keep between 300-350 words.

  • Remember that it is called an opinion piece, so be sure you express one. Don’t just describe a situation, offer your or your organization/group’s position on what should be done about it.


  • Our Choices, Our Lives: Unapologetic Writings on Abortion, 2002, Krista Jacob Ed., New York: Writers Advantage.

  • Behind Every Choice is a Story, 2002, Gloria Feldt, Denton, Texas: University of North Texas Press.

  • Abortion at Work: Ideology and Practice in a Feminist Clinic, 1996, Wendy Simonds, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.

  • A Question of Choice, 1993, Sarah Weddington, New York: Penguin Books.

  • Before Roe: Abortion Policy in the States, 2001, Rosemary Nossif; Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Internet Sources

  • www.cwluherstory.org - Chicago Women’s Liberation Union - great website containing information on pro-choice, feminist and JANE historical data. It even has a “Jane song,” with an original tune by John Prine. Links of particular “Jane” interest:

    • http://www.cwluherstory.org/CWLUFeature/Janearticles.html

    • http://www.cwluherstory.org/CWLUFeature/JaneDocs.html

    • http://www.cwluherstory.org/CWLUFeature/Janestory.html

    • http://www.cwluherstory.org/CWLUFeature/Janetheater.html

    • http://www.cwluherstory.org/CWLUFeature/Janeprint.html

    • http://www.cwluherstory.org/CWLUFeature/Janevideo.html

    • http://cwluherstory.org/CWLUFeature/Janesonqt.html (Jane song)

  • www.protectchoice.org – The Pro-Choice Education Project

  • www.naral.org – Pro-Choice America: National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League

  • www.aclu.org – American Civil Liberties Union

  • www.feminist.org – Feminist Majority Foundation

  • www.feministcampus.org – World’s Largest Pro-Choice Student Network – Sister site of feminist.org

  • http://www.library.northwestern.edu/spec/pdf/kamenJANE.pdf - Special Collections Library at Northwestern University - where Paula Kamen donated her transcripts for Jane to. Also located here is E. Spencer Parsons papers. Paula Kamen wrote Reverend E. Spencer Parsons into Jane. Rev. Parsons was part of the Clergy Consultation service which was a network of clergy set up to refer women to other states for legal abortions. The

  • http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/women/ – Special Collections Library at Duke University – all around major resource of pro-choice history.

  • www.million4roe.com

  • http://flathat.wm.edu/March212003/varietystory2.shtml - online article about the College of William & Mary’s March 2003 production of “Jane: Abortion and the Underground.”

Movies (Check your school’s library or media services – they may already own some of these).

  • Jane: An Abortion Service, released in 1996, available through Women Make Movies in NYC. Produced and directed by Kate Kirtz and Nell Lundy. – Profiles the abortion service which operated in Chicago during the late 1960s and early 1970s, when abortion was illegal; consists primarily of interviews with many of the women who worked with the service. http://www.wmm.com/Catalog/pages/c410.htm

  • If These Walls Could Talk, released in 1996 by HBO – an excellent movie about a woman’s right to choose through the lens of three separate decades: pre-Roe, adjacent to Roe, and present.

  • Never Go Back: The Threat to Legalized Abortion, released by the Feminist Majority Foundation. Contact Million4Roe.com for a copy.

  • The Fragile Promise of Choice: Abortion in the United States Today, released n 1996 (Menlo Park, CA: Concentric Media) Producer: Beth Seltzer, Director: Dorothy Fadiman, Produced in association with KTEH-TV, San Jose.

  • When Abortion was Illegal: Untold Stories, released in 1992 (Oley, PA: Bullfrog Films, Concentric Media). Producer & Director: Dorothy Fadiman in association with KTEH-TV. – Presents the stories of women who had illegal abortions from 1930-1960, along with comments of doctors and others who helped them deal with later trauma.

  • From Danger to Dignity: The Fight for Safe Abortion, released in 1995 (Menlo Park, CA: Concentric Media), Produced in association with KTEH-TV, San Jose. – This documentary chronicles the double-pronged movement, the grassroots activism and intensive legislative lobbying, that culminated in Roe v. Wade. Rare footage and interviews with movement participants are intercut with women’s shared recollections of back-alley or self-induced abortions.

  • Two documentaries, Misguidance and In Bad Faith, by Sunny Chapman, who was interviewed as a subject in the Jane play, exposing lies of covertly anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers.” See www.sunnychapman.com/media

Plus Many Many More


Agreement made this ______ day of _____, 200__, by and between ____(Producer) and Paula Kamen (Author).
Producer and Author agree to the following with respect to the play entitled “Jane: Abortion and the Underground:”

  1. The Author hereby grants to the Producer the right to produce and present a production of the play for 1 reading on ________, 200_.

  1. The Author represents that she has the full and complete right to permit such a production of the Play by the Producer.

  1. Any performances of the Play beyond the originally contracted performances stated above shall be negotiated by a separate contract.

  1. The Producer shall not make changes, alterations, and/or omissions to the Play without the Author’s prior consent. Any changes or additions to which the Author consents shall be become the Author’s sole property.

  1. Producer grants the Author the right to attend all rehearsals, technical rehearsals and performances of the production.

  1. The Author shall receive billing credit in all programs, advertising and publicity for the play immediately underneath the title.

  1. The Producer shall have the right to authorize one or more radio and/or television presentations of the excerpts from the Play for the sole purpose of publicizing the production of the Play; provided, however, that the Producer shall receive no compensation or profit, directly or indirectly, for authorizing any such radio or television presentations.

  1. The Author retains all other rights to the Play and any future productions thereof.

  1. This is the entire Agreement between the Author and the Producer. It shall not be amended or modified except by a written agreement signed by the two parties.

___________________ _________

Paula Kamen Date
___________________ _________________________________ ______

Signed Printed Name of Signer and Group Name Date

WSU Students Mark 30th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
Winona, Minnesota—WSU MN NARAL campus representatives, the Women’s Studies Department, and FORGE are marking the 30th anniversary of a woman’s right to choose safe and legal abortion. On January 22nd, 1973, the Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that a woman’s right to choose an abortion is a fundamental right and has the highest level of Constitutional protection.
Who: WSU MN NARAL Campus Representatives, the Women’s Studies Department, and FORGE
What: A reader’s theatre of “Jane: Abortion and the Underground” by Paula Kamen, with opening statements by history professor Dr. Colette Hyman, followed by a facilitated discussion.
When: Wednesday January 22 at 7 p.m.
Where: The PAC Recital Hall in the Performing Arts Center on the WSU campus.


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