Before 'Roe v. Wade,' The Women of 'Jane' Provided Abortions For The Women Of Chicago

Formed in 1965, Jane was an underground network in Chicago that counseled and helped women who wanted to have abortions. (From left) Martha Scott, Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Abby Parisers, Sheila Smith and Madeline Schwenk were among the seven members of Jane arrested in 1972.

Courtesy of Martha Scott

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Courtesy of Martha Scott

In 1971, Winnette Willis was a 23-year-old single mom in Chicago when she became pregnant again. “I was terrified of having another child,” she tells Radio Diaries.

Before the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade 45 years ago, abortion was illegal in most of the United States, including in Illinois.

Women like Willis who wanted to terminate their pregnancies had limited and often frightening options. She wasn’t sure what to do. And then one day, while she was waiting on an L train platform, she saw a sign.

“The sign said, ‘Pregnant? Don’t Want to Be? Call Jane.’ And a phone number,” Willis remembers. “So, I called.”

“If you really care about something, you have to act on it”

“Jane” was an underground network in Chicago that counseled and helped women who wanted to have abortions. The service was launched in 1965 by Heather Booth, then a 19-year-old student at the University of Chicago. Her friend’s sister was pregnant and desperately wanted an abortion. Booth found a doctor who was willing to perform the procedure secretly.

More calls started coming in.

“By the third call, I realized I couldn’t manage it on my own,” Booth says. “So I set up a system. We called it ‘Jane.’ ”

At first, Jane connected women with doctors. But eventually, the group’s members started performing abortions themselves. With time, Jane grew into an all-women network with dozens of members, ranging from students to housewives.

Martha Scott was 28 at the time and a stay-at-home mom with four children under the age of 5. She was motivated to join Jane because she felt women who wanted an abortion deserved to have a safe and inexpensive option. The fact that it was illegal did not deter her.

“I just thought, if you really care about something, you have to act on it,” Scott says.

Martha Scott, a stay-at-home mom, joined Jane and learned to perform abortions. “It wasn’t perfect, by any means,” she says. “But we were dealing with women who really didn’t have other options.”

Courtesy of Martha Scott

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Courtesy of Martha Scott

The dangers faced by women seeking abortions in the pre-Roe v. Wade era are well-documented. In 1930, abortion was listed as the official cause of death for almost 2,700 women in the United States, though there were likely many more unrecorded mortalities. After antibiotics were introduced in the 1940s, the number of women dying from illegal abortions dropped dramatically. However, every year, thousands of women continued to be admitted to hospitals nationwide for complications of illegal abortions.

How Jane worked

The women of Jane ran a finely tuned operation. “It was very clandestine and secretive,” according to Leslie J. Reagan, a professor of history at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the author of When Abortion Was a Crime.

When women called Jane, they would hear an answering machine message asking for their phone number, name and the date of their last period. A member of Jane would then call them back and set up a meeting to discuss the procedure.

“There were lots of points along the way where they could have said, ‘No, I change my mind,’ ” says Scott. “I don’t think anyone chooses to have an abortion lightly.”

Jeanne Galatzer-Levy was 20 when she joined Jane.

“I hadn’t had so much as a speeding ticket. But abortion really was the front line, it was where women were dying,” she says.

Jeanne Galatzer-Levy was a member of Jane. The group charged women $100 for an abortion; doctors would often charge $500.

Courtesy of Jeanne Galatzer-Levy

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Courtesy of Jeanne Galatzer-Levy

Jane rented apartments all over Chicago, two at a time. One was called “The Front.” That was the address given to women such as Willis, where they would await the procedure. At the appointed time, the women were driven to a second location, where the abortion was performed.

“It felt very underground,” Willis says. “But I remember looking at the people who performed the surgery, and I felt relief, that somebody was going to help me.”

Jane wasn’t the only abortion counseling service that existed in the United States. “The thing that made Jane so unique was that they decided they were going to take the practice of abortion into their own hands,” says Reagan. “That was a stunning decision.”

The women of Jane were transparent with their clients.

“We told them up front we were not doctors,” says Galatzer-Levy.

When the women of Jane got trained to perform abortions themselves, it meant they could reduce the price of the procedure and reach a larger, and more diverse, population. Doctors often charged $500 to perform the procedure. Jane charged $100 but took whatever the clients could pay, Galatzer-Levy says. They used the money they got from their clients to pay for supplies, rent and other expenses.

At their peak, Jane was performing abortions four days a week and typically serving 10 women a day. Galatzer-Levy says that to the best of her knowledge, the group never turned anyone away.

Usually, they gave their clients a muscle contractor and an antibiotic before performing a dilation and curettage surgical procedure, in which the cervix is dilated and a medical instrument is inserted to remove tissue from the uterus.

“By and large, we were dealing with healthy women pregnancies,” says Galatzer-Levy. “We were not qualified to deal with somebody with real medical problems.”

Scott says she performed hundreds of abortions. It’s a relatively simple procedure, but she acknowledges that there were risks to what they were doing. Some clients ended up in the emergency room; some had to undergo hysterectomies.

“You’re messing around inside somebody else’s body. It’s not necessarily given that you won’t do harm,” Scott says. “It wasn’t perfect, by any means. But we were dealing with women who really didn’t have other options.”

In the seven years Jane was active, the group performed approximately 11,000 first- and second-trimester abortions. No deaths were ever reported of women who had abortions through Jane.

Busted by the police

For years, Jane operated under the radar of the Chicago police. But in 1972, two Catholic women walked into a police station, reporting that their sister-in-law was planning to have an abortion.

“To them, 1) it was a sin, and 2) they didn’t want a child killed. That’s how they felt,” says Ted O’Connor, the then-31-year-old homicide detective who was put on the case.

O’Connor and his partner tracked Jane to an apartment in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood. Scott vividly remembers when the police arrived.

“They came in and looked around and said, ‘Where’s the doctor?’ Looking for the guy, but there wasn’t any guy, there was just us,” she says.

The policemen took all the women into custody, and they were charged with 11 counts of abortion and conspiracy to commit abortion.

Ted O’Connor was a young homicide detective in Chicago sent to investigate Jane in 1972. He followed a client to an elegant apartment building in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood, near Lake Michigan, and ended up arresting seven members of Jane that day.

Courtesy of Ted O’Connor

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Courtesy of Ted O’Connor

Looking back, O’Connor has no qualms about arresting the women, who were breaking the law. But he says he can see both sides of the issue.

“My side is I don’t want to see a life destroyed. That life is helpless, it has no choice in this. And that angers me,” he says. “On the other hand, I’ve never been pregnant. And never will be. It’s a tough issue.”

The Supreme Court decides Roe v. Wade

The arrests occurred while abortion laws were being debated on the national stage. Beginning in 1970, Alaska, Hawaii, New York and Washington repealed their anti-abortion laws.

Six months after Jane was busted, on Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States with their decision in Roe v. Wade. The charges against Jane were dropped.

Ultimately, Roe vs. Wade brought an end to Jane because women then had access to legal abortion providers.

Roe v. Wade made such an enormous difference. It was a very important victory. At that point, we all sort of scattered, moved onto other things,” says Scott, who went on to work at a women’s health clinic and remained an activist.

Abortion continues to be one of the most divisive issues in American life and politics.

“I mean, we really thought, the fact that it was legal, it wouldn’t be as political anymore, that it would fade a lot as any kind of a social issue,” she says. “But we were wrong. We were wrong.”


Nellie Gilles of Radio Diaries, with Joe Richman and Sarah Kate Kramer, produced this story for broadcast. It was edited by Deborah George and Ben Shapiro. Thanks to Laura Kaplan, author of “The Story of Jane.” You can hear more Radio Diaries stories on their podcast.

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Facebook Moves To Decide What Is Real News

Facebook says it will ask its users decide which news organizations they think are high quality and it will favor news from the most trusted sources.

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Facebook is rolling out a major change to its News Feed: pushing up news articles that come from “high quality” sources, and pushing down the others. The move signals that, in an effort to combat the problem of fake news, the social media giant is willing to play a kind of editorial role — making decisions based on substance, not just how viral a headline may be.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post to his Facebook page:

“There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today. Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don’t specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them. That’s why it’s important that News Feed promotes high quality news that helps build a sense of common ground.”

The company asserts that its own executives will not pick and choose favorites. Rather, they’ll let the users decide what counts as a trusted source.

Spokesman Todd Breasseale says in an email: “As part of our ongoing quality surveys, we asked a diverse and representative sample of Facebook users across the US to gauge their familiarity with, and trust in, sources of news. A source’s broad trust is one of many signals that determine stories’ ranking in News Feed. We boost links from sources with high trust scores and demote links from sources with low trust scores.”

The Internet has plenty to say in response to the announcement. On Twitter:

I wonder how many Facebook executives would let their food get cooked the same way? Something tells me they’d rather trust a chef.

— Bill Hangley, Jr. (@BillHangley) January 19, 2018

Prediction: people from all parts of the political spectrum will, through their confirmation bias lens–see the results as “censorship.”

— Ron Dufresne (@RonDufresne) January 19, 2018

Facebook recently announced other reforms that, the company estimates, will result in less news in the News Feed overall — from the current 5 percent down to an estimated 4 percent.

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Tell Us: Are You Still Watching The NFL?

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The past few NFL seasons have been mired in controversy, from findings about concussions and brain damage to injustice protests and domestic violence.

Have you changed your viewing habits as a result? If you have, Weekend Edition wants to hear from you.

Whether you’re watching more football now, or less, let us know below, and tell us why. Your responses may be used in an upcoming story, on air or on NPR.org. A producer may reach out to you to follow up on your response, too.

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Motorists of the world take heart: even popes get flat tires

LIMA (Reuters) – Pope Francis may have divine inspiration but not divine inflation: on Friday he suffered what millions of ordinary people have to deal with — a flat tire.

While the pope was being driven into Lima from the airport, one of the wheels of the Fiat 500 that was taking him into the city began losing air on the highway.

After his motorcade came to a halt, he calmly exited the car while his security detail surveyed the damage. Without missing a beat, he got into a black, unmarked security car behind him and continued the ride to the presidential palace, television footage showed.

Francis has shunned the bulletproof limousines used by his predecessors, opting for simple cars both in Rome and on his overseas travels.

Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Sandra Maler

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Get Caught Up: Trump's Alleged Affair With Adult Film Star Stormy Daniels

Stormy Daniels appears at the Wicked Pictures booth at the 2017 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 18, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nev.

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It’s been quite a news week, even by recent standards.

The U.S. is potentially hours away from a partial government shutdown. The debate rages on over the president’s reported comments about not wanting to accept immigrants from “s**thole countries.” “Girtherism” has erupted over the president’s latest height and weight measurements. Officials are scrambling to figure out how to avoid another false ballistic missile alarm, like the one residents of Hawaii suffered last weekend.

Also, the Wall Street Journal reported that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer at one point paid off a pornographic actress to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump.

The affair between Trump and actress Stormy Daniels is reported to have taken place in 2006. At that time, Trump had been married for a year and a half to Melania Trump, now the first lady, and their son Barron was four months old. In statements to the Wall Street Journal, both Trump and Daniels denied an affair.

Startlingly, we are in such a news cycle that it’s possible to have ignored a story about the president of the United States’ alleged affair with an adult film star. If you missed it, here’s a rundown of who reported what, what allegedly happened and how people are responding to the whole thing.

The basics

The story that Daniels and Trump had an affair was in fact already public before the 2016 election. In a November 4, 2016, piece, the Wall Street Journal wrote that the National Enquirer (whose parent company is headed by Trump friend David Pecker) paid $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal for her story about an affair with Trump…then killed the story, keeping it quiet.

That story also reported that Daniels had been considering going on ABC’s Good Morning America to talk about her alleged affair, and that the Trump campaign also denied the affair. But the Stormy Daniels story gained new life on January 12 of this year, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump had arranged to pay Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about a 2006 sexual encounter between them.

In that story, both the president and Daniels denied that the encounter took place.

“President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence as has Ms. Daniels,” Trump lawyer Michael Cohen told the Journal.

And in a statement also supplied to the Journal by Cohen, Daniels denied both the affair and receiving any payment.

“Rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false,” she told the Journal via Cohen.

However, celebrity magazine In Touch soon threw those denials into question, publishing a nearly-5,200-word, never-before-published 2011 interview with Daniels describing several occasions on which she met or spoke by phone with Trump, including a sexual encounter.

On January 18, the Journal followed up with a story about how the Trump team hid the payments, setting up Essential Consultants, LLC in Delaware on October 17, 2016, to make the payments.

Since the Journal first ran with the story about the $130,000 payment, multiple other outlets, including Slate, Fox News and the Daily Beast have revealed that they had started reporting on the story before the 2016 election.

However, each outlet had a reason why the story did not run — Slate’s Jacob Weisberg wrote this week that Daniels had stopped responding to him “about a week before the election,” and that he couldn’t confirm that she had been paid for her silence. The Daily Beast likewise wrote that Daniels backed out of a potential interview five days before the election. And Ken LaCorte, who had headed up Fox News’ digital operation at the time, wrote this week that he thought his organization’s story didn’t have enough evidence to be publishable.

“In the end, it was an easy decision, and no legitimate news organization would have published what we had,” he wrote at LaCorte News.

Who is Stormy Daniels?

Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, has acted in 152 films and directed 78 according to IMDB . In addition to appearing in adult movies, she has had bit parts in some mainstream films, including The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up.

She had a brush with politics when — fueled by a “Draft Stormy” movement — she considered a 2010 challenge against then-Sen. David Vitter, R-La. She ended her campaign in April of 2010, expressing her frustration with the political system, as well as her treatment by the political establishment and press.

“Simply because I did not fit in their mold of what an independent working woman should be, the media and political elite have sought to relegate my sense of civic responsibility to mere sideshow antics,” she said in a statement.

Vitter himself had had his own sex scandal in 2007, when it was revealed that he was a client of the “DC Madam.”

What’s in the In Touch interview

At more than 5,000 words, there’s a lot of detail. The majority of it isn’t about the sexual encounter itself. Daniels lays out years of interactions with Trump. She explained that she met Trump at a 2006 charity golf tournament, where he asked her to dinner. She said they ate dinner in his hotel room and conversed for hours before having sex.

Trump continued to call her regularly after that — “about every 10 days,” Daniels said.

He always called me “honeybunch.” He’s like, “How’s it going, honeybunch?” He always started the conversation off, I think it was always his excuse to call, “I just read about you in such and such or there’s a quote about you in magazine, I turned on my channel in my hotel room and guess whose face popped up?”

During that first encounter, Daniels added, Trump had talked about getting her a spot on The Apprentice, and in these phone calls, he continued to say he wanted her on the show, though she expressed skepticism.

In addition to phone calls, Daniels said she and Trump encountered each other at parties and that she at one point went to meet him in Beverly Hills, where she spent several hours watching Shark Week with the future president(among the many details Daniels recounted was that Trump “is obsessed with sharks. Terrified of sharks.”).

As of 2011, when the In Touch interview was conducted, Daniels said her last interaction with Trump had been a year and a half earlier. She also expressed anger that he had “promised” she would be on his reality TV show.

“I didn’t have any unrealistic expectations of actually being on the show; I figured my chances were 50-50,” she told In Touch. “I did believe that he was shy. So now I wonder if the whole thing was just a f***ing lie.”

In Touch added that the story of Daniels’ alleged affair with Trump is backed up by two others: “The account of her affair was corroborated by one of her good friends and supported by her ex-husband.” The magazine also said that Daniels, her friend and her ex-husband all passed polygraph tests.

How are people reacting?

Any political sex scandal is going to get attention. When the president is involved, that magnifies it a hundredfold. And on top of that, when one participant is a porn star (as opposed to, say, a nurse or an architect or a housekeeper) it ups the salaciousness factor exponentially.

Still, the sex as recounted by Daniels was consensual, and it doesn’t look like anything otherwise illegal took place. As Trump and Daniels now both deny the encounter, there is the overarching question of who might be lying and about what.

But some argue that this story matters for other reasons.

At the Washington Post, Molly Roberts argued that the alleged sex wasn’t the problem here so much as the alleged cover-up, as it could compromise the president:

If a foreign country acquires damning information about the United States’ leader, it could, either by threatening to expose past indiscretions or by laying a sexual trap, twist international policy to its benefit. A domestic group could also hold dirty little secrets over the man in charge to draw special favors.

That — not some vague concept of the president as perfect role model — is what makes it newsworthy that a president or presidential contender may have paid a bunch of people not to say they had adulterous sex with him.

In addition, as some of Trump’s supporters are conservative Christians, there’s the possibility that Trump’s alleged actions could alienate them. On Wednesday, the National Review’s Jonah Goldberg called on social conservatives to denounce the president’s actions:

[W]hile voters are perfectly free to make their own decisions about what factors they want to take into account in their estimation of politicians, I am at a loss as to how various social- and religious-conservative leaders can, with clear conscience, or even a straight face, shrug off this kind of thing, never mind defend it. … At the very least, Jerry Falwell & Co. should be condemning Trump’s behavior.

However, some commentators — like MSNBC’s Joy Reid — believe that the list of women accusing the president of sexual assault and other misconduct should get more attention than this alleged affair.

We’ll discuss tonight on @allinwithchris … but let’s not forget … the REAL scandal is the what … 20? more? women who have accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment or assault. They should never be forgotten. https://t.co/edA6tAChBx

— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) January 13, 2018

What the White House and other Republicans are saying

Very little. In a Thursday press gaggle, deputy press secretary Raj Shah quickly shut down questions about Daniels.

Q: This is an issue that hasn’t really gotten much attention amidst everything else, but nonetheless, this woman named Stephanie Clifford, goes by the name “Stormy Daniels,” she says that she had an affair with the President. She spoke on record about it to a magazine. They say that she took a polygraph test. What is the President’s response to her allegations?

MR. SHAH: This allegation was asked and answered during the campaign, and I’ll point you to those comments.

Q: Was there some kind of settlement, some kind of hush money that was paid?

MR. SHAH: Like I said, this matter was asked and answered during the campaign, and anything else could be directed to Michael Cohen.

Meanwhile, there hasn’t been much reaction from top Republicans on Capitol Hill. Trump supporter Steve King, a Republican representative from Iowa, told Buzzfeed News that the Daniels story “didn’t catch my attention.”

“When I’m going through and reading the news, I need to read the things that I can change,” he added. “So I filter things out and get down to, ‘What can I have an effect on?'”

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Eagles v. Hotel California: After Lawsuit, Band Reaches A Settlement

Members of rock group The Eagles perform during a concert at Moscow’s Olympic Stadium in 2001 to star their European tour.

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Ivan Sekretarev/AP Photo

The Hotel California was, according to a case filed against it by legendary rock band The Eagles, living it up a little too much. The rock band sued the Mexico-based hotel, which shares a name with the band’s iconic 1976 song, resulting in a settlement Thursday. The settlement’s terms were not disclosed.

The Eagles accused the Hotel California, located on the Baja California peninsula, of trying to trick visitors into thinking that it is one and the same as the “lovely place” of its most-successful song.

In court documents, the rock band claims that the song, from the album of the same name, wafts through the lobby, while merchandise in the gift shop describes it as the “legendary” hotel. “Such a designation only makes sense,” the plaintiffs wrote in their complaint, if the hotel is “somehow connected with the Eagles’ famous and legendary song, which it is not.”

In fact, the hotel was originally named Hotel California in 1950, predating the song. But according to court documents, its name had been changed, to Todos Santos Hotel, before it was bought in 2001 and branded again as Hotel California. The Mexico-based hotel also filed an application in 2015 to trademark the phrase “Hotel California” in the U.S., and according to the complaint was selling “substantial” Hotel California merchandise in the U.S.

While the terms of the parties’ mutual agreement haven’t been made public, it happened less than a week after the hotel told the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that it was abandoning its trademark application.

The Eagles had not previously filed an application to trademark the phrase. The Eagles argue that, because Hotel California is so widely associated with the rock band and used on its merchandise, it has owned it by “common law rights” since the late 1970s. (After the hotel filed an application, the band filed one of its own.)

Because the agreement is confidential, it’s not clear whether the hotel will continue to sell Hotel California merchandise. According to a statement from the hotel’s lawyer, “the Hotel and its affiliates will continue to use the service mark and trademark ‘Hotel California’ in Mexico.”

The lawyer added that it “the Hotel claims no association with the Eagles or with [its] song and record album Hotel California.” It said in court documents that it is “not likely” that there would be “confusion, deception or mistake” about whether it was linked to the Eagles.

Funnily enough, the band itself was accused of using the photo on the cover of Hotel California without permission, according the BBC.

“While the song is not based on any particular place, the building pictured on the album cover is the Beverly Hills Hotel,” the broadcaster reports. “Ironically, the band used the photo without permission, nearly landing them in court, until it was pointed out that the hotel had seen its bookings triple after the album was released.”

In another Eagles-related case filed this week, the widow of founding member Glenn Frey is suing Mount Sinai Hospital over his “wrongful death.” Cindy Frey said in the lawsuit that her husband died in 2016 as a result of negligence by the hospital and its doctors.

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Jury Acquits Railroad Employees In Lac Megantic Fire Disaster

A train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada in 2013 and the ensuing explosions and fire killed dozens of people. A jury acquitted three railroad employees of related charges on Friday.

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Jurors in eastern Canada on Friday found three men not guilty of criminal negligence following an oil train disaster that left 47 people dead. The accident in July 2013 involved a U.S.-owned train carrying North Dakota crude oil. In the aftermath, regulators in the U.S. and Canada adopted sweeping reforms to the way railroads haul and manage hazardous cargoes.

The accident occurred on a summer evening after a rail worker left an industrial train unattended on a hillside above the village of Lac Megantic, Quebec. A malfunctioning brake system allowed it to roll free. The train gathered speed, derailed and exploded, sending balls of fire rolling through downtown.

Rescue crews were forced to pull back after reporting temperatures so extreme that village streets burst into flame. Tom Harding, one of the rail workers accused of negligence, described the scene in a recorded phone call played at the trial. “Everything’s on fire from the church all the way down to the metro,” Harding said. “Flames are 200 feet high, it’s incredible, you can’t believe it here.”

Prosecutors argued that Harding and two coworkers, Richard Labrie and Jean Demaitre, could have done more to prevent the accident. The men pleaded not guilty. Many critics in the U.S. and Canada argued they were scapegoats, with the lengthy trial diverting attention from lax government regulations and from cost-cutting decisions made by the Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railroad.

Tom Walsh, a lawyer for Harding, told the Associated Press his client was too emotional to speak but feels relieved. “He always admitted his responsibility. His only claim was that the responsibility was not the equivalent of criminal negligence,” Walsh said. “He’s very marked by this experience and he will always feel a tremendous moral responsibility and he will never be able to rid himself of that feeling.”

The U.S.-owned railroad declared bankruptcy after the accident and its American officers haven’t faced criminal charges. In the years since the disaster, regulators in the U.S. and Canada have tightened rules for how hazardous materials, including crude oil, are handled by railroads.

The biggest change is a gradual phase-out over the next decade of tens of thousands of single-hulled DOT-111 tank cars. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board had issued numerous warnings before the Lac Megantic disaster that the cars are too fragile to carry “dangerous products.” Despite those concerns, they continue to serve as a workhouse for railroads serving oil, gas and chemical industries.

The village of Lac Megantic, meanwhile, has struggled to recover from the disaster. The community of 6,000 people had to build a new downtown area from scratch because the historic commercial district was heavily contaminated by heavy metals and other pollution released during the blaze.

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