Russian Band Pussy Riot to Perform at Alabama Planned Parenthood Benefit

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot performs at the Sonic Temple Art and Music Festival at Mapfre Stadium on Friday, May 17, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Activist Russian band Pussy Riot will perform in Birmingham, Alabama, Thursday in a sold-out concert that will benefit Planned Parenthood.

In May, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed the Human Life Protection Act into law, one that makes most abortions in the state illegal. The law is scheduled to take effect in November but Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have jointly filed a lawsuit that claims the abortion law is unconstitutional.

“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, 29, told Agence France-Presse (AFP), adding that the United States is “going backwards.”

In 1920, the Soviet Union became the first state in the world to legalize abortion. Tolokonnikova referred to the current pro-life movement in Russia as “insane, crazy freaks who claim that women don’t have right to have an abortion.”

“We want to come to Alabama and support women who are in quite a critical and vulnerable position right now,” she added. “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.”

Proceeds from the concert will also benefit the Yellowhammer Fund, a member of the National Network of Abortion Funds, a group that gives financial assistance to women seeking abortions.

Tolokonnikova said the feminist movement today “is stronger than any time” and “will be able to overcome these obstacles.”

“Those white, male dudes who are voting against abortion rights, they’re part of the history,” she continued. “They’re not really relevant.”

AFP reported further:

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 sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism and religious hatred,” and for performing a song that protested Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“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.”

Alabama State Rep. Terri Collins, who introduced the Alabama abortion law, said the lawsuit challenging the new law is all part of her plan to ultimately have the case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We expected them to file the motion,” Collins said, reported WHNT News. “They probably did it quicker than we thought they would, but that is fine, that’s a part of that expectation, and that’s what actually moves it along in that court process.”

The Alabama law prohibiting abortion provides for an exception only in the case of the mother’s serious health risk. It defines an unborn child as a human being, in utero, at any stage of fetal development.

“That’s the language Roe v. Wade used, in utero, which meant already a person, already pregnant, and then they said that child was not a person,” Collins said. “So, we used their language in our bill and so we feel like our bill is a little bit better vehicle to get them to actually review their decision.”

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