Paula Kamen

Paula Kamen

I'm the Evanston-based author of four books of non-fiction, about feminism and Gen X women, and several produced plays, including "Jane: Abortion and the Underground," based on original interviews and research about the legendary feminist pre-Roe Chicago abortion service. Have guest blogged for New York Times and Ms, and published commentaries in Salon, McSweeney's, Women's Review of...
I'm the Evanston-based author of four books of non-fiction, about feminism and Gen X women, and several produced plays, including "Jane: Abortion and the Underground," based on original interviews and research about the legendary feminist pre-Roe Chicago abortion service. Have guest blogged for New York Times and Ms, and published commentaries in Salon, McSweeney's, Women's Review of Books, Chicago Tribune, In These Times, and more.

Plays

  • Jane: Abortion and the Underground
    A timely and provocative drama offering many substantial roles for women, based on original interviews, 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, “...
    A timely and provocative drama offering many substantial roles for women, based on original interviews, 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 play’s premiere production in fall 1999, Chicago Reader critic Kim Wilson said: “Everyone -- but women especially -- should hear this story.” Research for the writing of Jane includes a detailed, original investigation into its past and 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documentary, is stitched together from original interview transcripts, fictionalized reenactments of conversations, and historical documents, such as a script for abortion-rights street theater by the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union and front-page newspaper coverage of “The Abortion Seven.” The research was used by the makers of the PBS documentary, Jane: An Abortion Service, which aired in 1998. 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. Three full-length versions area available, including most popular 1.5-hour short version (uploaded below), 2-hour medium version, and 3-hour long version. Also available on request are two shorter student-made adaptations: one hour-long monologues-only version and one half-hour of scenes. Was excerpted in two Smith & Kraus "best of" stage scenes and women's monologue anthologies. Also written about as innovative in Frontiers article about feminist docudrama structure, http://muse.jhu.edu/article/530604 and as chapter in book about feminist plays on abortion, http://www.amazon.com/Examining-Confrontation-Ambivalence-Depictions-Reproductive/dp/0779904524/ref=la_B004SW9GUQ_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461959847&sr=1-1&refinements=p_82%3AB004SW9GUQ%2Cp_n_feature_browse-bin%3A2656022011