"If you needed an abortion, for whatever reason, you took your life into your own hands – and you were terrified, absolutely terrified," recounts a member of the collective of the late 1960s. "All you knew is that you might die, that this person didn't know what he was doing and you were going to pay hundreds of dollars... to bleed to death in some hotel room."
Heather Booth, then a student at the University of Chicago involved in civil rights and antiwar movements, found herself sought out by a few young women who were pregnant, scared, and desperate. They had somehow heard that Booth knew of a safe abortionist. Soon others began to call, prompting Booth and several other young feminists to found JANE, an anonymous abortion service that provided counseling and acted as the go-between for pregnant women and doctors willing to perform the procedure.
Appalled at the exorbitant procedure fees and upon discovering that their main abortionist wasn't a licensed physician, the women of JANE learned to perform illegal abortions themselves. Eventually, the underground collective performed over 12,000 safe, affordable abortions. Word of the illegal alternative was spread through word-of-mouth, cryptic advertisements, and even by members of Chicago's police, clergy, and medical establishment.
12000 abortions and nobody died.
Currently, the abortion mortality rate for illegal abortions is 100-1000 per 100,000 in developing countries. In the United States, the death rate from legal abortion is 0.6 per 100,000 procedures.
Legal abortion is more likely to be safe.
Safe abortions save lives, something the Jane Collective was well aware of.