Pussy Riot for abortion rights

The Russian collective Pussy Riot will perform in Alabama on Thursday, a sold-out concert to raise money for women’s rights groups in light of the state’s recent passage of a near-total ban on abortion.
The Russian collective Pussy Riot will perform in Alabama on Thursday, a sold-out concert to raise money for women’s rights groups in light of the state’s recent passage of a near-total ban on abortion.
Image: NME.com

The Russian collective Pussy Riot will perform in Alabama on Thursday, a sold-out concert to raise money for women’s rights groups in light of the state’s recent passage of a near-total ban on abortion.

Proceeds from the Birmingham benefit will go to Planned Parenthood and the Yellowhammer Fund, a group that gives assistance to women seeking abortions at one of the US state’s three clinics.

In May, Alabama lawmakers triggered outrage after pushing through legislation making abortion a felony – even in cases of rape or incest, unless the mother’s health is at risk – punishing doctors with up to 99 years in prison for providing the procedure.

“It is ridiculous to me that it’s still a question in 2019 whether women can have an abortion,” Pussy Riot co-founder Nadya Tolokonnikova said ahead of the performance.

The Soviet Union in 1920 became the first state in the world to legalise abortion.

An anti-abortion movement does exist in Russia, with activists seizing on the country’s declining population as reason for a ban, but according to Tolokonnikova it is only “insane, crazy freaks who claim women don’t have the right to have an abortion” there.

Though she feels that “the US is going backwards”, the 29-year-old said she sees progress “because activism is blooming and the feminist movement is stronger than ever before”.

“The feminist movement today is so strong that it will be able to overcome these obstacles,” the Moscow-based activist said.

“Those white, male dudes voting against abortion rights, they’re part of history.”

She sees legislation like that signed in Alabama as evidence of politicians who are “angry, and desperate, because they feel that their time [in power]is about to end”.

The anarchist Pussy Riot collective has gained international fame for its politically charged performances that see members don balaclavas and skewer everything – from the Russian church to persecution of the country’s gay community.

In 2012, Tolokonnikova was among the members sentenced to two years in a prison colony for “hooliganism and religious hatred” for performing a song protesting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The ban in Alabama is set to go into effect November 15.

But the law, which was designed as a challenge to the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court ruling Roe vs Wade, which made abortion legal in the US, may be blocked in court before then. – AFP

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