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Reclamation: Eddie Vedder’s 1992 Op-Ed on Abortion

Eddie Vedder
Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder, Pinkpop Festival, Landgraaf, Holland, 08/06/1992. (Photo by Gie Knaeps/Getty Images)

This article originally appeared in the November 1992 issue of SPIN.

Glasgow, Scotland. It’s cold outside. I’m thinking about a problem. One group of people trying to force their beliefs on others, based on religion. And it seems as though we’re regressing.

Above, a helicopter flies by. If it continues on its course, it will shortly be over Ireland, where as of this writing, the powers that be are deciding if a 14-year-old girl who was raped by the father of one of her friends should be allowed to leave for Britain to obtain an abortion. She’s been ordered not to leave the country for nine months. Fourteen years old. Raped. The issue of an unborn fetus takes on more importance than the fact that the rapist walks free.

Extreme, but this is a place where the church influences the government. And when I think of the movements concerning abortion in the United States, it definitely seems as though we’re regressing.

“My body’s nobody’s body but mine… You run your own body, let me run mine.”


Eddie Vedder
(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

At the University of San Diego a few years ago, pro-lifers gathered, while pro-choicers chanted the above. Sides clashed and tension ran high. A banner equating pro-choice ideology with Nazism and Hitler was displayed. “Baby Killers,” a little red stop sign said — a sign held by a well-dressed 3-year-old who sat atop the shoulders of his upper-middle class father. The kid looked confused and frightened. The ominous presence of armed police on horseback would be enough to upset anyone.

And I wondered how this child got pulled into this? I wondered how any of us got pulled into this. The fact is that those people handing down decisions on the abortion issue are not the ones who will have to live or die by it.


Reclamation: Eddie Vedder's 1992 Op-Ed on Abortion Mick Hutson / Getty Images


Ten years old. That’s the age my child would have been. And I would not be here in Glasgow. I wouldn’t be in this band or traveling. And I wouldn’t have seen the liberal ways in which other countries we have visited deal with this issue. I wouldn’t have been asked to write this piece. The fact that I’ve been through it on all levels is the only reason I accepted.

Perhaps I’ll have a child in the future, when I can provide properly. Who knows. But as individuals in this “free” country, we must have the right to choose when that time is right. A couple — perhaps 15 or 16 years old, maybe 10 years older — is faced with an unwanted pregnancy; it makes no difference if there is no means of support. They’re questioning whether they can provide a proper climate in which to raise a child. A healthy question for both them and society itself. Yeah, there are programs to assist. Welfare and health programs that are constant victims of cutbacks. The child can sit in severely overcrowded classrooms and be taught by underpaid teachers.

A right to a healthy future should be the consideration.

Operation Rescue? The point being the rescue of a nonentity, a zygote. Perhaps the rescue of a young woman in crisis would be more in order. Instead, combat lines are drawn at clinics, and women must be escorted through trenches, which only adds to their trauma. This is not a game. This is not a religious pep rally. This is a woman’s future. Roe vs. Wade was decided 19 years ago and the fact that a well-organized group has come close to overturning it is raw proof that we do live in a democracy. But also the reason that any opposition must be equally as vocal. You go to school in Normal, Illinois? Collegetown, U.S.A.? Shout it out. There are people wary of the strength that young voters possess. Prove them right. Decide on the issues and vote — male or female — for this is not just a women’s issue. It’s human rights. If it were a man’s body and it was his destiny we were deciding there would be no issue. Not in today’s male dominated society.