Pussy Riot performing in Alabama to protest ‘ridiculous’ abortion ban

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 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 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 legaliz 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 US 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.”

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