Pearl Jam To Play Sold-Out Abortion-Rights Benefit In D.C.

Grunge superstars, ambient-rockers to raise funds for Voters For Choice show Saturday.

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,

Campbell added.

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

the U.S.

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."