The ultimate in unapologetic anthems, Petrol Girls’ new single ‘Baby, I Had An Abortion’ is “A party-banger about having an abortion and not being sorry about it,” as vocalist Ren Aldridge herself states. “This song is a response to my experience of having had an abortion in 2018 and my encounters with pro-lifers since then. I’m totally happy to speak openly about my abortion and feel very privileged to have accessed it easily and for free on the NHS in the UK. This should be the case everywhere but abortion is illegal, expensive and / or hard to access in many places around the world. I found out I was pregnant the morning after the eighth amendment was repealed in Ireland, so felt very aware of how lucky I was to be in a country where I could do it easily.
When I moved to Austria I was shocked to find out that it costs around €500 to have an abortion even if you have health insurance. That’s almost two months rent for me! One morning, my partner and I encountered pro-lifers marching in front of the abortion clinic on the main street. I saw red, and before I knew it was circling them screaming “I HAD AN ABORTION AND I’M NOT SORRY!” to the amusement of onlooking shoppers. I joined local counter protests and continued shouting “I had an abortion, and I’m not sorry” in German. But I started thinking about this interaction and how limited it was, even if it was cathartic. I didn’t want to dignify them with a serious reaction - I wanted to ridicule them. I’ve not seen much of the pro-lifers since the pandemic but I’m thinking about dance routines and street theatre to go along with the pro-abortion flyers we handed out to passers by.
The idea for the song came directly from these experiences, and is first and foremost intended for upsetting pro-lifers on demonstrations. The ‘Shame Shame Shame’ lyric is totally a Game of Thrones reference, and the whole idea is intended to ridicule pro-lifers’ attempts to shame us for exercising our bodily autonomy. I wanted the song to have party vibes because I feel like abortion, whilst it obviously can be traumatic and upsetting, can also be totally fine and something to celebrate. I wanted to put something joyful about abortion out into the world.”
Petrol Girls will be raising money for Abortion Without Borders with this release. They’re a network of organisations that fund and support people in Poland to access abortion in neighbouring countries or at home with pills. Abortion laws were further tightened in Poland last year making it only legal in extremely limited circumstances. “The work done by Abortion Without Borders is incredible and they’ve been a lifeline for so many,” says Ren.
The first chance to hear ‘Baby, I Had An Abortion’ live will be at Petrol Girls’ clutch of headline dates in the UK next month, including the Punks Against Sweatshops event at The 100 Club in London on 19 March.
Petrol Girls have always faced pertinent issues head-on, spanning subjects from sexual assault and misogyny (‘Touch Me Again’), to xenophobia and nationalism (‘No Love For A Nation’), fighting for equality and justice through their music. The band’s incendiary second album ‘Cut & Stitch’ was released in 2019 to critical acclaim from a whole host of publications including The New York Times, Kerrang!, Upset, DORK and NPR. It also saw the band achieve Rough Trade Album of The Month status and Ren authored a Rough Trade Edition diving into some of the themes explored in the record. Since the release of ‘Cut & Stitch’, the band have received significant support from both BBC 6Music and Radio 1. They kept up a relentless touring schedule, which included shows with the likes of Refused, La Dispute and Thrice.
PETROL GIRLS TOUR DATES:
14 March Le Pub Newport
15 March The Junction Plymouth
16 March Redrum Stafford
17 March 1 in 12 Club Bradford
18 March Green Door Store Brighton
19 March The 100 Club London Punks Against Sweatshops
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