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The Phyllis Nagy-directed, Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi co-written film about the Janes, an underground abortion care network that operated out of Chicago during the late ’60s and early ’70s, sees Banks starring as a suburban housewife who seeks out abortion care after learning her second pregnancy could threaten her life.
While speaking to Vanity Fair about the movie, which releases in theaters Oct. 28, the actress, director and producer opened up about what she learned while filming. That includes how she learned, like her character, to perform an abortion. It is something she now says she thinks she “might be able to, actually,” though there are a few catches.
“I’d like to have a little more practice because I didn’t actually ever get to dilate anybody — I got to learn about the tools, watch the videos,” she explained. “But the procedure that we performed from 1968, there are similarities to it now but it is not the exact same. And most abortions now are self-managed via two pills.”
While Banks has consistently been a vocal advocate for abortion care rights, her Call Jane character is living in a pre-Roe time when it was still illegal in most states. And as the actress also notes, she has still faced people in the medical field who disregard the sensitivity around her reproductive care because of her gender.
When asked about being on both sides of the gynecologists’ stirrups, Banks noted that the experience involved “a lot of sense memory in the acting,” adding that it is “very intimate, what women are put through.”
She continued on with her own story of being dismissed by a male technician while at an appointment to treat her ovarian cysts.
“It was a specialized procedure that had to be done by somebody I’ve never met before, a male technician,” she recalled. “He starts his procedure, no bedside manner, and it was so painful. I said, ‘Can you please stop?’ It was actually making me nauseous, and I was worried I was gonna throw up.”
But instead of acting with sensitivity, Banks said “he treated me like, ‘Can’t you just get it together?'” As a result, she endured the pain through this procedure “with this asshole technician in this room with no understanding of what [I’m feeling].”
“And then I went to my car and I bawled my fucking eyes out,” she continued. “And honestly, that’s what I was thinking of while I was having the procedure in the movie. A pretty easy sense memory to bring up because it was raw and fresh, even though it was 10 or 11 years ago now.”
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