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Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Voicemail For Jill’ By Amanda Palmer

The post originally appeared at Ongoing History Of Protest Songs.

Alabama signed a law on May 15, which is almost a total abortion ban. The strict law does not include provisions for rape and incest victims. The law is expected to be challenged in the courts and may never take effect.

But part of the purpose of the law was to induce litigation that would give anti-abortion activists a case that would be heard by the United States Supreme Court and potentially lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

As expected, this resulted in heated debates on both sides of the aisle. When people discuss pro-life versus pro-choice the arguments are often along political or religious lines. What often gets overlooked is the humanity of those who must make the difficult decision of whether to
have an abortion.

“Voicemail For Jill” is a song on Amanda Palmer’s new album, “There Will Be No Intermission.” Instead of writing an angry pro-choice anthem, Palmer tells the story of a woman who made the painful decision to get an abortion.

The song was a collaborative effort. Palmer reached out to her Patreon patrons and asked them if they could leave a message to a loved one who was having an abortion what would that be. She also sought feedback from those who had abortions to see what messages they would have liked to receive.

Palmer received 543 responses, which laid the foundation for the
lyrics.

A powerful video directed by Amber Sealey was produced for the song. The visuals capture the loneliness of those who go through an abortion, while also highlighting the need for support.

“We felt like it was really important to address the very pedestrian, and also beautiful and emotionally complex, experience of what it’s like when you’re literally on your way to get an abortion,” Sealey shared. “That experience on screen can be so loaded or dramatized, but we wanted to keep the visuals fairly grounded and real.

“What’s it like when you’re going to get an abortion and you walk past a woman with her babies? What does it feel like to be thinking about if you should terminate a pregnancy or not and at work, you’re seated next to a hugely pregnant woman? It’s capturing those very important, and often very conflicting, experiences, and the duality that exists when you’re just another person sitting on the subway, and yet you’re about to go and do this thing that is often momentous for many women.”

“We were not trying to say this experience is what it’s like, for all women, everyone has their own stories, opinions, and experiences surrounding abortion, but hoped to make women who have gone through it, or are going through it, not feel so alone.”

“To know that even though they may feel alone, they are not alone. Not in their thoughts, not in their experiences, and not in their isolation. They may be traveling alone to the appointment, but energetically there are millions of women who support them and don’t judge them and have felt what they are feeling,” Sealey concluded.

Both the song and video address a sensitive subject in a compassionate way. Regardless of anyone’s personal views, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is always key to building empathy, which may overcome prejudice.

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CJ Baker

CJ Baker

CJ Baker is a lifelong music fan and published writer. He recently started a website chronicling the historical developments of protest music: ongoinghistoryofprotestsongs.com, and can be found on Twitter @tunesofprotest