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Pussy Riot perform in Birmingham, Alabama
Pussy Riot perform in Birmingham, Alabamacourtesy of Instagram/@alligatorsister

Pussy Riot perform in Alabama to protest the state’s abortion law

The Russian punk collective staged a show in Birmingham, Alabama, with proceeds going to pro-choice nonprofits

“It is ridiculous to me that it’s still a question in 2019 whether women can have an abortion.” That’s what Nadya Tolokonnikova, a member of Pussy Riot, told AFP ahead of the punk collective’s show in Birmingham, Alabama on Thursday night. In fact, the show itself was a protest against the state’s backwards abortion law.

Back in May, Alabama passed a restrictive abortion law that even extended a ban to cases of rape or incest, following a disturbing trend in the US. The state has a senate made up of 35 seats, four of which are taken up by women (not one voted in favour of the ban, though Republican governor Kay Ivey signed it).

This is what prompted Pussy Riot’s sold-out show on Thursday night. “We want to come to Alabama and support women who are in quite a critical and vulnerable position right now,” Tolokonnikova added, speaking to AFP. She also stressed just how regressive the passing of new anti-abortion laws in the US is, saying: “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 Russian band debuted a new song, “No More Wire Hangers”, in the Alabama city, and proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood and the Yellowhammer Fund, which helps women from Alabama seeking abortions, assisting with funding and access.

They join many figures in the arts protesting the changes in US states, from The 1975’s Matt Healy, who spoke about Alabama’s abortion ban onstage shortly after it was passed, to filmmakers Jordan Peele and JJ Abrams, who donated to institutions opposing Georgia’s “Heartbeat Bill”.