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Waxhaw woman shares experience as part of underground abortion service run by women in Chicago between 1965 to 1973

The Jane Collective set up a hotline that gave counseling and provided abortion services under the name 'Jane.' One woman who was involved now lives in Waxhaw.

WAXHAW, N.C. — All eyes were on Capitol Hill Wednesday as Democrats tried to pass a federal law guaranteeing the right to abortion.

It comes as a response to a leak of the Supreme Court's majority draft opinion in favor of striking down Roe v. Wade, which has kept abortion legal for nearly 50 years. 

RELATED: Democrats' effort to secure Roe v. Wade falls to filibuster. Here's what Carolina senators said

The issue draws intense passion on both sides. 

Before the landmark ruling in 1973, women in many parts of the country who were seeking abortions turned to oftentimes dangerous alternatives. A group of women in Chicago decided to take matters into their own hands.

It was a group now called the Jane Collective. They set up a hotline that gave counseling and provided abortion services under the name 'Jane.' One woman who was involved now lives in Waxhaw.

Diane Stevens said sometimes you have to take risks. 

“We were ordinary people, clearly I was an ordinary woman," Stevens said.

And the way she sees it, sometimes you have to break laws when they're unjust. 

“Not only would I be doing abortions, I would be facilitating women obtaining illegal abortions," Stevens said.

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Stevens was part of the Jane Collective, an underground abortion service run by women in Chicago between 1965 to 1973. 

Stevens' story will be shared in the HBO documentary 'The Janes,' which starts streaming on June 8. She told WCNC Charlotte that with dozens of members, they provided around 11,000 abortions. As the network grew, members who were not doctors also began performing abortions.

“They had to trust us to keep them safe and healthy and we in turn had to trust them that they legitimately wanted an abortion and that they weren’t going to turn us in," Stevens said.

In 1972, the Chicago Police raided an apartment used by the Janes. Stevens was one of seven arrested. 

“We helped women who were relatives of policemen get abortions, we were very tolerated, but one day a relative of a woman who was planning to have an abortion, she didn't approve so she went to her local police station and complained that her sister-in-law was going to have an abortion," Stevens said.

She said it was the CPD homicide squad that arrested her. 

But there are still many people who are against abortion. For example, Not Forgotten Ministries, who regularly protest organizations like Planned Parenthood. They said they want to protect all life. 

RELATED: 2 NC women share personal stories of abortion

"It's our hope that abortion will be ended in our country in our in our time," Not Forgotten Ministries Executive Director Tori Shaw said. 

As for Stevens, when the Supreme Court issued it's ruling in Roe v. Wade on Jan. 22, 1973, charges against her were dropped and the group stopped doing their work.

If the ruling is overturned, she hopes it won't go back to that. 

Contact Lexi Wilson at lwilson@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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