Pussy Riot, A Russian Punk Band, To Perform In Alabama To Protest State’s Strict Abortion Law

'It is ridiculous to me that it's still a question in 2019 whether women can have an abortion,' said a band member.

an abortion protest with advocates holding signs
Michael Thomas / Getty Images

'It is ridiculous to me that it's still a question in 2019 whether women can have an abortion,' said a band member.

Russian punk band Pussy Riot will be performing in Alabama to protest the state’s strict abortion laws, Agence France-Presse reports.

The band is scheduled to perform to a sold-out crowd in Birmingham on Thursday, with proceeds going to Planned Parenthood, as well as to the Yellowhammer Fund — a private funding clearinghouse that helps Alabama women with the costs of getting an abortion, including transportation and lodging.

Pussy Riot co-founder Nadya Tolokonnikova said that it is unthinkable that the matter of abortion was subject to debate in the United States in 2019. “We want to come to Alabama and support women who are in quite a critical and vulnerable position right now,” she said. She also said that, though Russia is considered by some to be a “patriarchal country,” when it comes to abortion there’s no debate. Abortion has been legal in Russia for the better part of a century, excluding two decades under Stalin during which it was banned.

Tolokonnikova further said that America is “moving backwards” when it comes to women’s rights. But she also noted that the recent spate of anti-abortion legislation that has sprung up in some states in the past few months has activated feminists to speak out. “The feminist movement today is so strong that it will be able to overcome these obstacles,” she said.

In the past few months, several states, including Alabama, Georgia, Missouri and Ohio, have passed so-called “fetal heartbeat laws.” Those laws ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, generally about six weeks into a pregnancy. Since most women don’t even realize they’re pregnant until after the sixth week, these laws effectively ban all abortions.

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Alabama’s law, however, is even more strict. It makes no exceptions for rape or incest, and punishes doctors who perform abortions with up to 99 years in prison.

As Five Thirty Eight notes, the principal reason these states are enacting such strict abortion laws is because they hope such a case will make it to the now-conservative Supreme Court. The hope is that the court will use such a case to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

As for Pussy Riot, the band made headlines in 2012 after the group performed an anti-Putin song in Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral. The performance saw the members charged with “hooliganism and religious hatred,” and each one was sentenced to two years in prison. During her time in prison, Tolokonnikova said that she would not be silenced.