The names of the people who have made widespread societal change are not always remembered. Instead we think about how their spirit will live on in all the lives that their work has touched. While this, in it of itself, is not disappointing as most people who do social justice work are more concerned with impact rather than fame, the lack of recognition of Jan and her co-authors' work on Initiative 120 is a shame because so many white feminists could learn from their example.
As a friend, I will always remember her gruff sense of humor. As a physician, I will always be in awe of her incredible impact on public health through the lens of women's health. Not only has her work increased access and restored human rights to 50% of the population of the state of Washington, it has also created a fertile ground for physician training thus influencing and teaching generations upon generations of young physicians to provide abortions. In a country where the number of abortion providers is on the decline, the import of this cannot be understated.
Jan will also be cherished by those who knew her for her immense generosity not only to friends and family, but the global community. The fact that it was almost always accompanied by an ostensible crankiness made it only more endearing. She was a skillful woodworker (after all, what else is a retired, queer woman supposed to do?) and a tremendous facilitator of community whether it be through her weekly Sunday night dinners, book club, or mentorship.
Jan Bianchi died at the age of 72 on August 20, 2016 from cancer in her home in Seattle, Washington. In addition to her work in women's reproductive rights she is also known for championing LGBT equity. She is survived by her daughter, Rachel Bianchi, and her sister, Sue Schubert.
JESS GUH, MD is a member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the independent, uncompromised, five-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site. Her work, and that of colleagues JOHN GRANT, DAVE LINDORFF, GARY LINDORFF, ALFREDO LOPEZ, LINN WASHINGTON, JR. and the late CHARLES M. YOUNG, can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net