RefAnnBib Entry #2


North, Anna. “This Is What It Was like to Perform Abortions before Roe.” Vox, Vox, 24 May 2019,


Background and Credibility:

Anna North is a writer who came from the New York Times and transferred into Vox. She covers gender issues, reproductive rights, workplace discrimination, LGBTQ rights, femininity, and more. She has also written three novels in the past.



In this article, North talks about the world pre- Roe v. Wade. According to Anna North, before Roe v. Wade, there was a “Jane”. This was a group of women in Chicago who provided abortions when it was illegal in most parts of the country. People who were seeking abortions could call the hotline and leave a message for “Jane”. Members of the council would meet her, counsel her, and perform the procedure themselves at a secret place. The Janes were receiving more attention recently in May 2019 as new restrictions for abortions were swarming in. North speaks to Judith Arcana, one of the original Janes, about what it was like to perform surgery on others when they were still illegal. She was an English teacher at the time with no medical practice. She was arrested in 1972 just a year before Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 and all charges were dropped against the Janes. She asks Arcana if they would need something like “Jane” again, and Arcana predicted that there would be and that it is already happening within the country. Arcana had to learn on the job and had to do things she couldn’t do to her own body like give injections to the patients. She explained how during every counseling section she would have to explain that they are breaking the law and that they are taking a big risk. Many of them did not care and decided to go through the procedure anyway, and rightfully so. She explains that just because something is a law, does not mean she should have to respect it. Arcana uses the example of Jim Crow laws; she says she “studied laws around slavery and Jim Crow laws and the other horrors that are literally in the bones of this nation, that are deserving of no respect”. This is a good example of how laws are not always for the benefit of the people as they may seem.



I agree with her points in the article. She also interviews a former Jane, who provided abortions to people before Roe was accepted. This was written relatively early, in May 2019 so the relevance of the article is accurate to today’s time. She presents an accurate depiction of how hard it was to get an abortion during those times, and by bringing in someone who directly dealt with this kind of stress, it provides a second voice to back up what they’re saying. Arcana personally, had the same fright of thinking about being pregnant with no resources to help them. If there was one speculation or question, I had, it would ask for more people to talk to about it like someone who personally an abortion at that time had to provide an emotional impact for the readers.



“Now, I’ve got to tell you that a lot of women really didn’t want to hear anything political. They just [said], “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Do me and I’ll go home.” Who can blame them, you know?”

“So the tools, the skills, and then about bodies: like most women under several centuries of misogyny and patriarchy, we really knew very little about our bodies and had a lot of embarrassment about our bodies.”





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2 thoughts on “RefAnnBib Entry #2

  1. Hey Doris! I wanted to say that I think your article sheds light on a lot of issues that are even ongoing currently. I think that this article is an asset to your paper and can really uncover new ideas. By this I think that you would benefit greatly to (as you mentioned yourself) find more articles that allow women who have gone through the process speak about it. I feel like if anything you can separate or group different types of women. What I mean is I think you should include accounts of women who have and hadn’t had an abortion for different reasons. You can also “zero-in” on the reasons for why certain women didn’t have an abortion because they were unable to afford it etc. I think that it would also be really good if you included articles that relate to today’s issues surrounding abortion. You can talk about the issues just going on within the US or even globally. You might have to decided how big of a perspective you would want but you can even talk about the walks and marches going on not only in the city of Manhattan but also in cities of Poland and around Europe. This is all up to you but I think you would make a good point to the reader if you talked about the consistency within this issue that is happening currently even.

  2. Hi Doris! I really think this article brings a good historical insight for readers to understand the complexity of the issue. Similar to what Olivia said, I think you should decipher if you want your essay to just focus on the United States or globally. I also think you should be clear on if you want to focus your essay on the modern-day or if you want to speak on the evolution of the issue. I believe bringing the protests about Poland will strengthen your issue and focus, as well as, bring awareness. I think your research should aim at events that focus on the failure of countries to accept abortion as a woman’s right. I also think you should include anecdotes of women who have risked their lives receiving abortions in states where it is illegal. This will appeal to the pathos of the audience and strengthen your argument about the issues of abortions not being legalized. Also, you should look for articles that provide statistical data on the number of illegal abortions that occur yearly, and how many lives are risked due to this.

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