Jane Collective Founder Says Texas Abortion Law Is Like East German Something


  • The founder of the Jane Collective criticized the Texas abortion law, saying it is emblematic of a “big brother state”.
  • The Jane Collective was an underground abortion ring operating until Roe v. Wade.
  • Texas’ abortion law states that citizens can sue people facilitating abortions for $ 10,000.

Heather Booth, the founder of an underground abortion ring that served more than 10,000 women before Roe v. Wade, said Texas’ new abortion law reminded him of something of an authoritarian regime.

Earlier this month, Texas passed a strict abortion law prohibiting anyone from getting the procedure after six weeks pregnant, a point at which most people don’t yet know they’re pregnant. The law, which came into effect on September 1, forced some state abortion providers to refuse patients wishing to benefit from the procedure.

One of the most striking aspects of the law is that it prompts ordinary citizens to sue anyone they consider “aiding and abetting” to an abortion – a concept Booth calls “a Big Brother state.”

“That’s what we hear about authoritarian regimes, in East Germany or the former Soviet Union,” Booth said in an interview with Insider. “Encouraging and generating this kind of social mistrust, I found that particularly shocking.”

The East German Stasi police agency relied on hundreds of thousands of informants to denounce friends and family when they broke rules imposed by the East German government. The Soviet Union also used a secret police system that encouraged information to citizens. Organizers like Booth believe the practice is making a comeback in Texas.

Booth isn’t the only one upset with politics. A whopping 81% of Americans who responded to a Monmouth University survey said they disapproved of the inducement, which rewards citizens who successfully sue with $ 10,000.

Booth told Insider that she never intended to start the Jane Collective. It was meant to be one “good deed,” she said. She found a doctor for a friend “who was almost suicidal” and then word spread from there. Suddenly, masses of women demanded abortions, and Booth then realized how necessary the network was.

“It was a very demanding job. The goal was not profit. The focus was on the lives of the women involved. The goal was to create a caring community,” she said.

“And so it was a great strain, I think, for the women who were involved, and a real sacrifice to take care of the lives of the women who survived,” she continued.

Although perhaps intended to reduce abortions, Texas law has not stopped people from seeking and obtaining the procedure. Out-of-state providers told Insider more Texans are flocking to their clinics instead.

These clinics continue to meet the demand for abortions, and reproductive rights activists are fighting against the restrictive law. The Department of Justice sued Texas for the ban.

After the Roe v. Wade in 1973, the Jane Collective disbanded, but Booth said the battle for abortion rights continues to be as critical as ever.

“We have to organize ourselves. We have to make a continuous organization and not just a one-off mobilization,” she said. “Create a permanent way to connect with family and community members, and help them see what’s really at stake.

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