Seattle rockers Pearl Jam will renew their commitment to the pro-choice
cause on Saturday when they take to the stage of Washington, D.C.'s
Constitution Hall for a sold-out benefit for the abortion-rights group
Voters For Choice.
The concert, expected to raise more than $120,000 in support of a number of
November congressional, senate and gubernatorial races, also will feature
the experimental, ambient group Hovercraft, fronted by Pearl Jam singer
Eddie Vedder's wife, Beth Liebling.
"I think everyone should stick to their guns," said Hovercraft guitarist
Campbell2000, who would only give his first name as Ryan. "If they have
something they believe in, they should fight for it."
Both the pro-choice stance of the concert and Hovercraft's music are
grounded in a refusal to compromise values, be they political or musical,
The gig at the 3,700-seat hall marks a repeat performance for Pearl Jam.
The grunge superstars played a Voters For Choice benefit at the same venue
with grunge-godfather Neil Young, indie-rockers L7 and
violinist/singer/songwriter Lisa Germano in January 1995 to celebrate the
22nd anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that gave women a
choice on abortion. That concert raised $180,000 for VFC.
In a prepared statement, Vedder expressed his feelings that birth control
should be available to people who want it, regardless of age. "The
escalation of violence at clinics is astounding," Vedder said, referring to
a rash of fire-bombing at clinics across the U.S. over the past two years.
"We hope funds from this concert will help elect lawmakers who will fight
for clinic protections and support."
The concert will be hosted by Voters For Choice and pro-choice
activist magazine Ms. co-founder Gloria Steinem, who praised Pearl Jam and Hovercraft for their commitment to fighting for reproductive choice.
"This concert is a pairing," she said, "because rock music has always meant
freedom, and we are here to talk about reproductive freedom for all
Americans, rich and poor."
The event begins a push to support a number of electoral races in
November, according to Voters For Choice Executive Director Julie Burton,
who revealed that Steinem will be campaigning for pro-choice candidates all
through the month of October.
"We hope to provide candidates with the same level of support we did in the
last election," Burton said, referring to the 1995 elections, in which she
said 21 of the 25 House candidates whom Voters For Choice supported won their races, resulting in 11 additional pro-choice votes in Congress. Voters For
Choice is the largest independent pro-choice political action committee in
One member of Pearl Jam, bassist Jeff Ament, said the event has hit
home. He explained that he has seen the devastation caused by right-wing
anti-abortion extremists firsthand, in the form of a fire-bombing at a
Montana clinic several years ago.
"It took tremendous resources to rebuild the facility," Ament said in a
statement, "which now includes prison-type security around its perimeter. A
family-planning clinic shouldn't look or feel like a high-security prison.
Nor should anyone ever have to fear exercising their right to choose."