The Janes: how to watch, trailer and all we know about the documentary

Police mugshots from The Janes documentary
Mugshots from The Janes documentary (Image credit: HBO)

The new documentary The Janes comes at a time in America when there's a renewed and increasingly heated battle over reproductive rights. After years of being a "relatively" settled matter in the US, the Supreme Court recently passed down a controversial ruling overturning the landmark abortion rights case, Roe v Wade. A decision that is already having a ripple effect throughout the country. 

While the recent court decision has stopped short of making abortions illegal everywhere, it certainly no longer protects the right to have one for many women in several states.

The Janes documentary takes viewers back to an era in American history before there was federal guidance on abortion. Believing in women's right to choose, a group of women set up an underground network that helped thousands gain access to safe and affordable methods for dealing with unwanted pregnancies. Abortions were illegal and these women — who called themselves "Janes" — risked everything by breaking the law.

Here’s everything we know about HBO's The Janes documentary film.  

The Janes release date

The Janes premiered in the US on Wednesday, June 8, on HBO and HBO Max

To date, there is not currently an official release date for the documentary in the UK. However, it's likely to appear on Sky TV — which is usually the official partner, in the UK, for HBO series and originals. As we find out more we’ll be sure to pass along that information.  

How to watch The Janes

The Janes is an HBO Original film and is currently available to stream on HBO Max. There are two subscription plans for HBO Max — an ad-supported and an ad-free plan — both of which provide full access to HBO Max's library of content.

What's The Janes about?

Members of the Janes

(Image credit: HBO)

HBO describes the synopsis of The Janes as the following: 

"In the spring of 1972, police raided an apartment on the South Side of Chicago where seven women who were part of a clandestine network were arrested. Using code names, fronts and safe houses to protect themselves and their work, the accused had built an underground network for women seeking safe, affordable and illegal abortions. They called themselves Jane. 

"Offering first-hand accounts from the women at the center of the group, many speaking on the record for the first time, The Janes tells the revelatory story of a group of unlikely outlaws. Defying the state legislature that outlawed abortion, the Catholic Church that condemned it and the Chicago Mob that was profiting from it, the members of Jane risked their personal and professional lives to support women with unwanted pregnancies.

"In the pre-Roe v Wade era — a time when abortion was a crime in most states and even circulating information about abortion was a felony in Illinois — the Janes provided low-cost and free abortions to an estimated 11,000 women."

Not only will former "Janes" be featured in the documentary, but also women that used their services, as well as legal and medical professionals offering their insight.

The Janes trailer

The Janes trailer is an eye-opening one to watch — especially in light of the current political climate in the US.  

The Janes directors

The Janes directors, Emma Pildes and Tia Lessin are both experienced documentary filmmakers, who have previously explored hard-hitting subjects in their work. Pildes has previously directed the documentaries Jane Fonda in Five Acts (2019) and Spielberg (2018), which each garnered her an Emmy nomination. Lessin, equally acclaimed, has received an Oscar nomination for the project Trouble the Water (2009) and two Emmy nominations for the satirical series The Awful Truth (1999). 

Terrell Smith

Terrell Smith has a diverse writing background having penned material for a wide array of clients including the federal government and Bravo television personalities.  When he’s not writing as Terrell, he’s writing under his pseudonym Tavion Scott, creating scripts for his audio drama podcasts. Terrell is a huge fan of great storytelling when it comes to television and film. Some of his favorite shows include The CrownWandaVision, Abbot Elementary and Godfather of HarlemAnd a fun fact is he's completely dialed into the TLC 90 Day Fiancé universe.