The subtitle of the article really says it all:
“A secret network of women is working outside the law and the medical establishment to provide safe, cheap home abortions.”
—Lizzie Presser. “Whatever’s your darkest question, you can ask me.” California Sunday. March 28, 2018.
The prevalence of, for lack of a better term, Jane Networks, is probably an interesting social indicator worth some study. Facts:
- A society needs means of controlling reproduction.
- If reproduction is not controlled by society, then it will be controlled by Malthusian environmental forces.
- Society has a variety of techniques of dealing with the problem of reproduction that run the gambit from puberty rites to modern birth control.
- Jane Networks are typically talked about as informal networks that provide abortions, but it probably should include sex education services, use of contraception, etc.
Jane Networks have been around for as long as women have been having children. The only real question is how effective and safe are/were the methods used.
Ergot, for instance, was used as an abortifacient in medieval times. One person used it, survived, and used that experience to help other women. The knowledge spreads and a Jane Network forms.
The real need driving a woman to risk dying to prevent a pregnancy isn’t ever going to go away until we solved the problem of reproduction, i.e., when we can have babies only when we want them. It’s certainly not something the law can try to prohibit without making a mockery of itself, by creating the need for large Jane Networks.
Like with drugs, if government wants to control abortions, it needs to get in the business of providing it in a safer, more cost effective form than a Jane Network. Prohibition will cause Jane Networks to form anywhere there is unmet need.
Engaging with the problem and providing a comprehensive approach that includes multiple techniques, such as sexual education, birth control, adoption and yes, abortions is the only way to significantly reduce the number of abortions. The only real question, for a society, is: who provides these services? Should it be a Jane Network, the state er something else?
Personally, I think developing a modular, community approach that tries to bring as many techniques as possible to bear on the problem of reproduction is the way to go. Let there be millions of Jane Networks. Lets learn from each of these experiments and develop safe, inexpensive and effective techniques for handling the problem of reproduction.