Nadya Tolokonnikova, of the Russian feminist protest punk rock group Pussy Riot, which will perform in Alabama to protest the passage of a law that amounts to a near-total abortion ban Photo: AFP/File
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Pussy Riot performing in Alabama to protest 'ridiculous' abortion ban

32 Comments
By Maggy DONALDSON

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 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 southern U.S. 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 told AFP ahead of the performance.

"We want to come to Alabama and support women who are in quite a critical and vulnerable position right now," she said. "Many Americans, they believe that Russia is a patriarchal country -- it's true in a lot of ways, but when it comes to abortion rights, it's not questionable."

The Soviet Union in 1920 became the first state in the world to legalize abortion, though it was banned under Joseph Stalin for nearly two decades starting in 1936.

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 that women don't have right to have an abortion" there.

Though she feels "the U.S. going backwards" the 29-year-old said she sees progress "because activism is blooming and the feminist movement is stronger than any time."

"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 who are voting against abortion rights, they're part of the history. They're not really relevant."

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."

  1. Activism 'a mindset' -

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.

Despite her time in prison, Tolokonnikova says she will never give up activism: "It's a mindset. It's something you can't really escape. It's a part of me."

She became a young mother 11 years ago, an experience that gave her "more conviction" in her feminism.

"Having a baby who is a girl definitely convinced me that I should try to make my country and the world a better place for my girl to live in," she said. "I'm still fighting laws of patriarchal ghosts."

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 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe v Wade, which made abortion legal nationwide in the U.S. -- may be blocked in court before then.

"I'm looking forward to meeting inspiring people, who are surviving in an environment that is not particularly open to progressive people," Tolokonnikova said of her upcoming show.

"I like to go to places that are not super obvious to play in," she said. "I want to support those progressive people who decided to stay in a place like Alabama and make that state more progressive and more open-minded. If I can help just a little bit, I'd be really happy to."

"That's the beauty of art, it can unite people with different views."

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


32 Comments

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It is especially the anti-abortionists I think of when I say that there are many people out there who believe nothing they say. What they say is meant to sound plausible and principled when in fact they are only trying to further human suffering.

For all the talk of election interference, its nice to have a clear case of Russians coming our aid.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

These women, who are apparently totally okay with themselves and their fellow women being turned into nothing but sex objects, can carry out all of the sexually charged protests that they want -- complete with immature and sexually suggestive costumes and band names to boot.

It doesn't change the fact that pregnant women don't have two hearts, two brains, two sets of DNA, two blood supplies, two pairs of arms and legs, and roughly half the time, a penis.

When my mother was pregnant with me, it wasn't too long before I began kicking her. With MY legs. Not hers.

One of my cousins, while pregnant, was banged up in a car accident. In the ambulance, they had two heart monitors going -- one for her, and one for her unborn daughter.

This all means that an unborn child IS a human being. That's fact, not opinion or religious dogma. It's scientific and biological fact.

And when we kill human beings, it's called homicide. That means abortion is homicide.

The logic is unassailable. Being pro-abortion is a scientifically and morally indefensible position.

-12 ( +7 / -19 )

Really Jen, these punk art legends are nothing but sex objects in your mind? Let us know when AKB48 do a prison term.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

@JenniShiebel

Well said.

These women, who are apparently totally okay with themselves and their fellow women being turned into nothing but sex objects, can carry out all of the sexually charged protests that they want -- complete with immature and sexually suggestive costumes and band names to boot.

It doesn't change the fact that pregnant women don't have two hearts, two brains, two sets of DNA, two blood supplies, two pairs of arms and legs, and roughly half the time, a penis.

When my mother was pregnant with me, it wasn't too long before I began kicking her. With MY legs. Not hers.

One of my cousins, while pregnant, was banged up in a car accident. In the ambulance, they had two heart monitors going -- one for her, and one for her unborn daughter.

This all means that an unborn child IS a human being. That's fact, not opinion or religious dogma. It's scientific and biological fact.

And when we kill human beings, it's called homicide. That means abortion is homicide.

The logic is unassailable. Being pro-abortion is a scientifically and morally indefensible position.

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

May the innocent babies win the brutal war on them by evil profiteers such as Planned (Non)Parenthood, abortion doctors, provider institutions, etc.

And may every pregnant mother receive all the help and support she needs to carry the child to term and raise it to adulthood.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

I noticed that all those who support abortion are alive. -A right they wish to deny the unborn humans.

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

"The US doesn't even wanna help more immigrants - why would they help more babies - both are just more mouths to feed"

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Alabama Pussy Riot-sounds good!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I've never understood how some people can be PRO-death penalty, but anti-abortion.

Until the religious fanatics step up and adopt every unwanted child, they need to STFU. There are about 3x more abortions in the USA annually than there are adoptions. Get adopting before you force someone else to have an unwanted baby.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

And when we kill human beings, it's called homicide. That means abortion is homicide.

yep and the 25000 people that die from gun violence every year in the US, yet the constitution still allows people the tools to commit these homicide. how does that Republican saying go, "all life is precious, until it steps on my property"

9 ( +11 / -2 )

I noticed that all those who support abortion are alive. -A right they wish to deny the unborn humans.

and many anti-abortionists who are also alive, support the death penalty and gun rights. hypocrisy is thicker than molasses

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I noticed that all those who support abortion are alive.

It's not about supporting abortion; it's about allowing the mother to choose. The rest of us can argue till the cows come home, but it's not our call.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The logic is unassailable. Being pro-abortion is a scientifically and morally indefensible position.

So say you. But growing up as an unloved, unwanted child is no fun either. That's a lousy choice: get scraped out or spend a miserable life in a living hell.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Their music is awful.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Why are they even IN Alabama? If Alabama is such a draconian state, don’t they themselves think it’s strange that they can parade themselves and their opinions there? They know that America - even in Alabama - is so far to the left now that they can do what they’re doing.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Why are they even IN Alabama? If Alabama is such a draconian state, don’t they themselves think it’s strange that they can parade themselves and their opinions there? They know that America - even in Alabama - is so far to the left now that they can do what they’re doing.

Interesting premise behind these questions. It seems to be that you are questioning their enjoyment of the freedoms provided by the US, due to their having had the misfortune of being born into a country where such freedoms don't exist, even though they have been vocal in said country of their displeasure with the lack of those freedoms. Before your questions can be answered, I think you have to explain why it should seem weird that they would/should want to not use those freedoms in a place where they exist.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

But growing up as an unloved, unwanted child is no fun either. That's a lousy choice: get scraped out or spend a miserable life in a living hell.

False dichotomy. I have known a lot of people with such childhoods. I have never heard one say they wish they had been aborted.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@albaleo

It's not about supporting abortion; it's about allowing the mother to choose.

The result of the choice is the violently administered denial of the child's right to enjoy life, a right which you are enjoying. Why do you get to enjoy life but yet you agree to deny that right to millions of soon to be born humans?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

False dichotomy. I have known a lot of people with such childhoods. I have never heard one say they wish they had been aborted.

On the other hand, I've heard plenty of people question why they were born.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I noticed that all those who support abortion are alive.

I oppose abortion but am pro-choice.

I think these supposed people who 'support abortion' are extremely few in reality. I think the majority of us are pro-choice, to give women the freedom to make responsible decisions both for their own life and those of the children they may or may not bring into this world, but would rather women exercised this action as little as possible.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@wtfjapan

and many anti-abortionists who are also alive, support the death penalty and gun rights

Not all pro-life people support these causes. But either way it doesn't change the fact that abortion results in the brutal execution of a soon to be born human.

Hypocrisy here is that those who wish to maintain their own lives, at the same time agree to the denial of the right to life of others.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

These women are making a stand because women are being denied choice. As usual, it's fundamentalism and men standing in the way of women's rights.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Toasted Heretic

These women are making a stand because women are being denied choice

All women have a choice. They, and their partners, can choose to have or not have sex that could lead to pregnancy. Pro-life advocates are not trying to deny them any reasonable choice at all.

However, once pregnancy results from their choices, the 'choice' to abort would result in the violent execution of a soon to be born human, and so is not a choice that can be supported.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

the 'choice' to abort would result in the violent execution of a soon to be born human

If you are talking about the day before the child would be born, I would agree. If you were talking about the day after the woman got pregnant, I wouldn't.

In the Age of Outrage, nuance is not allowed to exist.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pussy Riot, those well known activists, could strike a more immediare and meaningful blow by playing in Islamabad.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Strangerland

I oppose abortion but am pro-choice.

I think these supposed people who 'support abortion' are extremely few in reality. I think the majority of us are pro-choice, to give women the freedom to make responsible decisions both for their own life and those of the children they may or may not bring into this world, but would rather women exercised this action as little as possible.

Your viewpoint is more honest and reasonable.

My questions to you are....

Why 'exercise this action as little as possible'? If the baby is just a blob of cells with no rights why should there be any restrictions to abortion whatsoever?

Or is that deep inside we know that the baby possess humanity and therefore the thought of violently destroying it hurts our consciences?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Your viewpoint is more honest and reasonable.

It's also in line with how most people feel. Contrary to what extremists on both teams would have you believe, most people are not in the extremist camp of either team.

Why 'exercise this action as little as possible'? If the baby is just a blob of cells with no rights why should there be any restrictions to abortion whatsoever?

For the very reasons you guys give for being against abortion. I thought you already knew these reasons.

But conversely, I don't see a zygote or even a fetus as being a fully developed human, and therefore I don't see the same equivalency to murder that you guys do. I think that there are difficult decisions to be made sometimes, and that generally the determination of the mother to not have the baby is likely the best decision to be made for most mothers who make it. If you've ever actually talked to anyone whose had an abortion... well I've never talked to anyone who did it lightly.

And it's not like our species is in a threat for survival due to low numbers at the moment. We're facing overpopulation, not under-population. So I don't feel that society has a right to play a role in a choice that women must make for themselves and the children whom they have to determine whether or whether not to bring into the world.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I've never understood how some people can be PRO-death penalty, but anti-abortion.

Think harder.

Death penalty = penalty for guilty people who have no place in society.

Abortion = killing innocent people who haven't done anything yet.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Death penalty = sometimes killing innocent people who haven't done anything.

Abortion ≠ killing people

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Strangerland

If you are talking about the day before the child would be born, I would agree. If you were talking about the day after the woman got pregnant, I wouldn't.

In the Age of Outrage, nuance is not allowed to exist.

I agree that there is a physical difference between an abortion at 6 weeks compared to 40. Nevertheless the methods and end results are still the same: Violent and brutal destruction of, and denial of the right to life of a soon to be fully formed human. It is evil no matter the nuance.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I agree that there is a physical difference between an abortion at 6 weeks compared to 40. Nevertheless the methods and end results are still the same: Violent and brutal destruction of, and denial of the right to life of a soon to be fully formed human. It is evil no matter the nuance.

I disagree. Destroying a few cells that are not yet conscious is not evil.

So for me, the nuance lies in when it becomes a life. I don't feel I'm qualified to answer that question, nor do I feel that I have a place to do so. I feel this is something between a woman and her physician.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This is the state that had to be compelled not to try a woman for murder for getting shot in the stomach and losing a child as a result. This is what comes from recognizing a ganglion as a "human being" in state law.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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