As access to reproductive healthcare in the United States remains on shaky ground following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Call Jane star Elizabeth Banks and director Phyllis Nagy are speaking up about the importance of portraying realistic abortion in media.
Banks stars as 1960s housewife Joy, who seeks out an abortion when a second pregnancy threatens her life. Turned away by a team of male doctors, Joy discovers the Jane Collective—a real, radical underground network that provided safe abortions to Chicago women in the 60s and 70s—and ultimately becomes a member of the collective herself.
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Director Nagy told Vanity Fair that painting a more “normal” and realistic portrait of abortion care to dispel rumors of the procedure’s risk was of the highest priority.
“Hollywood thrives on a particular sort of conflict and drama. I understand that, but it has contributed to a terrible sense in the culture that abortion is really dangerous—it will kill you…or at the very least it will drive you crazy, you’ll be guilty forever.
The vast majority of people have a very different experience, so I thought, Okay, we’ll focus on the unexceptional. This is what happens every day. It’s a normal part of women’s health care.”
Banks Says She and Nagy Wanted to ‘Break the Mythology’ About Abortion Safety with Call Jane
Banks, whose character is already a mother when she finds herself in need of abortion care, says that Joy’s character is meant to show that anyone could find themselves in that same situation.
“The majority of women who seek abortion healthcare are already mothers, so it was important that this person be a mom,” Banks told Vanity Fair. “I think the fact that she is white and privileged, and the wife of a lawyer—if even she can’t figure out how to get anybody to help her in the system, how bad is it for everybody else?”
The actress, who also produced Hulu’s Shrill, says that she and Nagy wanted to “break the mythology” around abortion and show more women who are happy with their decision—like Shrill’s protagonist who returns home from the procedure smiling.
“[On Call Jane], Phyllis Nagy and I were very much on the same page that we were going to present the full procedure—again, to break the mythology that it is some scary life-threatening procedure when it’s way less life-threatening than dental procedures. So that was really important to present the simplicity of it, the everyday nature of abortion.”
“Because if one in four women in America are getting abortions, that’s pretty normal,” she added.
Call Jane hits theaters October 28.