A previous leak meant that the US supreme court’s ruling on Friday overturning the Roe v. Wade case protecting women’s abortion rights did not come as a surprise. It was still a shock, however, and one that a variety of musicians and music companies have been responding to over the weekend.
“I’m pledging $500k from my upcoming tour to Planned Parenthood and Abortion Rights. Live Nation agreed to match— to make it 1 MILLION dollars,” tweeted Lizzo. “Black women & women of color have historically had disproportionately less access to family planning resources— this is a great loss but not a new one.”
“I’m devastated and terrified. So many women and so many girls are going to die because of this,” said Olivia Rodrigo at the Glastonbury Festival on Saturday, before inviting fellow artist Lily Allen for a performance of the latter’s track ‘Fuck You’ dedicated to the five supreme court justices who voted for the overruling.
Rage Against the Machine have also announced a $475k donation to reproductive rights organisations in the US. “Like the many women who have organised sophisticated railroads of resistance to challenge these attacks on our collective reproductive freedom, we must continue to resist,” said the band in a statement.
Glastonbury provided a focal point for artists to respond publicly to the overruling, from Billie Eilish (“Today is a really dark day for women in the US”) to Phoebe Bridgers (“Fuck America and all these irrelevant old motherfuckers trying to tell us what to do with our fucking bodies”) to Idles (“They just reversed the laws back to the middle ages in America”).
Social media, too: Alicia Keys (“This decision is about more than abortion, it’s about who has power over you, who has authority to make decisions for you, and who is going to control how your future turns out”); Taylor Swift (“I’m absolutely terrified that this is where we are – that after so many decades of people fighting for women’s rights to their own bodies, today’s decision has stripped us of that”); Harry Styles (“We’re all in this together, and the fight is just beginning”); Mariah Carey (“It is truly unfathomable and disheartening to have to try to explain to my 11 year old daughter why we live in a world where women’s rights are disintegrating in front of our eyes”) and many more.
The supreme court’s decision has created a moment where music companies, too, will be deciding not just whether to express views, but also how to support their employees in the US – particularly in any states that choose to ban abortions following the ruling.
“We are covering travel expenses for our employees who need access to women’s healthcare services outside their home state,” announced Live Nation, adding that “we are supporting community activism and will cover bail expenses if any of our employees are arrested for protesting peacefully”.
Google, too, has reminded its staff that “our US benefits plan and health insurance covers out-of-state medical procedures that are not available where an employee lives and works” while adding that staff “can also apply for relocation without justification, and those overseeing this process will be aware of the situation”.
Artists have the stages and the social media followings to speak out about their feelings and their activism around this issue, but they will be looking to the companies who manage and distribute their music for meaningful support too. Expect more announcements, donation drives and corporate-policy clarifications in the coming days.