Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

Every DiFranco, an American female pop singer who personally

             Every other day, new headlines of abortion restriction bills would be seen practically everywhere, whether it be in magazines or newspapers. Even today, legal procedures of abortion continue to be a critical contention of the United States, while the definition of legal abortion remains an individual interpretation from place to place. The legalization of abortion has been an intensely controversial and sensitive public issue to the American society since the 1860s and 1870s. However, the debate was aggravated in 1973 when abortion was legalized for young women in Roe v. Wade. This led the existence of both pro-choice and pro-life organizations. The opposing views of the two movements gradually influenced and caught the attention of artists of the 20th century. Ani DiFranco, an American female pop singer who personally undergone an abortion at the age of eighteen, finally wrote her first song, “Lost Woman Song” about her traumatizing and disconcerting experience. Through the lyrics of her song, she breaks the silence of unacknowledged emotions of relief and regret, liberation and loss, revealing that women can still be themselves after an abortion. The “Lost Woman Song” opens up the minds of socially oppressed American women fighting for reproductive rights that have long been condemned.       Between 1967 and 1973, most states liberalized restrictions on abortion. These rights to abortion were solely accessible to American women in 1973 when the case of Roe v. Wade came into place. The case of Roe v. Wade was brought into action by a 21-year-old pregnant woman by the name of Norma McCovey under the pseudonym of “Jane Roe.” She was stopped by the Texas state regulation while attempting to terminate her pregnancy. She represented all women who wanted to “safely and legally end their pregnancy” (“Planned Parenthood” 6). The court acknowledged Roe’s decision and eventually eradicated the Texas law. For the first time ever, the U.S. Supreme Court had fulfilled reproductive justice for women and recognized the constitutional right to their privacy under the 14th amendment to the Constitution (Gottesman and Brown 1). In other words, the Supreme Court was inclined to provide the highest level of constitutional protection to woman’s prerogative to gestation rights in addition to potential life.       On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court finally made a decision to liberalize women’s right to privacy and abortion through safe, legal, and professional medical procedures (“Planned Parenthood” 6). Yet, many states still remained conservative in regards to this legal authorization. States like Texas had some of the most rigorous constraints. These included absolute laws on ultrasonography and four clinical visits prior to any surgical undertaking. For minors, they would need parental authorization in order to go through any of the above (Thompson 11). According to Henry Wade, the Texas Attorney General who defended the law that prohibited abortion, the only exception made on the practice of abortion was unless the life of a woman is at risk or involved in any instances of rape, incest, or birth defect (Bernay 12). Though abortion is slowly and gradually becoming widely accepted, the polarized opinion of the issue remains personal and much-discussed.       The distinct opinions of the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” activists resulted in independent organizations to support their cause. By the late 1990s, many “pro-life” organizations such as the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) failed to provide abundant support to override a presidential veto to propose and pass a law interdicting abortion despite the backing of some authoritative political figures (Gottesman and Brown 1). Clinics that continued to develop drastically following the Roe v. Wade legalization became the central target of angered “pro-life” activists who disagreed with the growing numbers of private physicians willing to offer delivery and reproductive services to women at significantly lower costs (Gottesman and Brown 1). By 1999, many anti-abortion activists were apprehended for committing violence against these abortion clinics which included bombings, threats, and murdering. The growing numbers of antiabortion violence resulted in a noticeable decline of “pro-choice” activists to publicly support their notion (Gottesman and Brown 1). The temporary threats of the anti-abortionists did not demoralize the ideals of “pro-choice” activists in bringing in legal abortion into their society.         From an influential pop female singer to a “pro-choice” activist, Ani DiFranco was born on September 23, 1970, in Buffalo, New York to Elizabeth and Dante DiFranco. She began by playing Beatle covers at coffee shops at the age of nine. When she was just fifteen, she lived an independent life by moving out on her own. She started by playing famous songs on her guitar on the streets to earn spare change. Her early experience in discovering the definition of independence guided her to explore the social issues in her daily life. By the time she was eighteen, she appeared in coffee shops, bars, college campuses and music festivals. After relocating to New York City, she had written more than 100 pieces of songs when she was just nineteen, drawing the attention of fans asking for records of her performances. She then made her own recording of her works and sent out 500 self-titled copies of them to be sold at her shows. Soon after, Ani founded her first album, “Righteous Babe” in Buffalo, New York, 1990 (Gottesman and Brown 1). Her first album is playful and affectionate. It centers around the reality of life and relationships through accessible language for the audience. She embraces the most disputed affairs of her time, hoping to spread her message through lyrical discussions to encourage her fellow audiences to take political action. Additionally, most of her songs address the gender inequality in the world of man and finding the definition of women’s role in the society. For example, in one of her interviews, she explained, “…it hadn’t deepened with an awareness that feminism is truly about women becoming themselves, and having choices…” (Contemporary Musicians, 2). Additionally, in another interview, she gave her own definition of “feminism” pointing out that “feminism comes out of the experience of motherhood. That’s what feminism is. Which is not to say that you have to give birth, or even be female to embody it.”, later saying “I very much want to see our understanding of feminism evolve on a societal level to understand it as way more than ‘equal pay for equal work’…but move on to understand feminism as a prerequisite to peace on earth” (Nathman 4). This goes back to when she had her first abortion at age eighteen, participating in her making of the “Righteous Babe” album where she responds to the reality-based issues such as abortion and women’s sexuality in a culture that has long been missing from debates. She clearly states that the point of view on these issues are constantly evolving and is not limited to a specific individual and that motherhood and/or pregnancy is just another subject matter within the debate. Feminism is not limited to one gender, but for all. She believes that anyone who understands the definition of feminism will see its purpose in their society.       The “Lost Woman Song” can be found in the tracks of the “Righteous Babe” album. It addresses the complexities of going through abortion with fervent judgment and worldliness, arguing the lack of personal rights in the society of the era, “And I am here to exercise my freedom of choice” (DiFranco l. 5); “They gathered when they saw me coming/They shouted when they saw me cross” (DiFranco l. 8,9). Ani emphasizes the limited power a woman has to abort a child and the use of anaphora on lines 8 and 9 demonstrates the guilt that consumed her from the picket signs dissuading other women not to get abortions. As she moves on, she responded with exasperation, “why don’t you go home?/Just leave me alone/I’m just another woman lost” (DiFranco l. 10-12). Her frustration builds up, carrying her away from reality and urging her to recollect memories of her regretful past as she goes on to say “I wish he’d never come here with me/In fact I wish he’d never come near me” (DiFranco l. 17-18) and “But some of life’s best lessons are learned at the worst times” (DiFranco l. 21). The repetition of “I wish” and the use of alliteration on “l” insists on her remorse of her early experience. Likewise, she feels that her experience is a lesson from life and she has to stand up to overcome it. Moving on, she states several times the static progress of the government or country: “But as far as I can tell the world isn’t perfect yet/I am growing older waiting in this line/The profile of our country looks a little less hard-nosed” (DiFranco l. 14, 20, 31). Furthermore, she attests that their negligence of providing abortion service for woman lead to more people waiting: “But you know that picket line persisted and that clinic’s since been closed” (DiFranco l. 32), followed by “Yes I’m not going to sacrifice my freedom of choice/No you can’t make me sacrifice my freedom of choice/No you can’t make us sacrifice our freedom of choice” (DiFranco l. 35-37). This illustrates that women have not given up on their choice and find no apology to excuse from their right. Ani’s song is filled with strong feminist dogma, expressing the dedicated spirit and standpoint of female activists, driving listeners to ponder over the issue of abortion through many aspects.

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