#LifeMatters: Abortion in Popular Music


BY AIMEE MURPHY

If you're anything like me, you're an audiophile and you listen to music on a pretty constant basis. Right now my song is "Summertime Sadness" by Lana Del Rey. I've been listening to it nonstop -- and in trying to make out the meaning of the lyrics, I found a few theories that it was about Lana's friend who committed suicide. Considering the content of the music video, I wouldn't at all be surprised if that was the case. It made me wonder how many songs are out there that discuss abortion. You'd be amazed -- 200+ songs made the list, and a sizeable portion of them are either pro-life or lay the grisly and heart-wrenching truth of abortion to bear. Unlike the seeming celebration that the Feminist Majority Foundation wanted to have with their "AbortionMatters blog carnival," these songs really demonstrate the heavy moral weight that we carry with us as a society from the legalized homicide of our youngest members. Even songs that don't make a particular pro-life statement show the mourning, psychological trauma, and (in some cases) the medical, ethical reality of abortion and its aftereffects.

Here's a short list of some popular songs that you've probably heard at one point or another -- take a step back and reevaluate the lyrics. Abortion is such a common tragedy in our generation that we cannot avoid the reverberations and aftershock -- whether it be from the loss of a sibling, potential friend, or child. Share a song with your friends, and start a conversation.

"Slide," Goo Goo Dolls

Pretty much anybody who is older than 15 knows this song. Despite the fact that it was first released in 1998, it is still popular and played on the radio today (what staying power, Goo!). It's the story of a young teenage couple -- the girl finds out she's pregnant, and the couple is trying to decide whether to get married or have an abortion. From what I can tell, she got an abortion and now has "little pieces of nothing that fall," but not necessarily after consulting the father.

"Don't you love the life you killed?/ The priest is on the phone/ Your father hit the wall/ Your ma disowned you/ Don't supposed I'll ever know/ What it means to be a man/ It's somethin' I can't change/ I'll live around it."

"The Freshmen," The Verve Pipe

Another popular song from the '90s, "The Freshmen" tells the tragic tale of a young woman who gets an abortion and cannot deal with the guilt and pain of knowing she killed her own child -- and commits suicide. Her friends try to cope and pull themselves together, but in their youth they don't know how to handle it.

"When I was young I knew everything/ and she, a punk who rarely ever took advice/ Now I'm guilt-stricken, sobbin' with my head on the floor/ Stopped a baby's breath and a shoe full of rice/ Can't be held responsible/ She was touchin' her face/ I won't be held responsible/ She fell in love in the first place/ For the life of me/ I cannot remember/ What made us think that we were wise/ and we'd never compromise/ For the life of me/ I cannot believe we'd ever die for these sins/ We were merely freshmen/ My best friend took a week's vacation to forget her/ His girl took a week's worth of valium and slept/ and now he's guilt-stricken, sobbin'/ with his head on the floor/ Thinks about her now and how he never really wept/ . . . / We tried to wash our hands of all of this/ We'd never talk of our lack in relationships/ and how we're guilt-stricken sobbin' with our heads on the floor/ We fell through the ice when we tried not to slip we'd say/ We can’t be held responsible . . . "

"Ten," Yellowcard

I wasn't very familiar with this song, but my brother went through a Yellowcard phase and so I have an appreciation for their music. "Ten" is told from a post-abortive father's perspective -- about how he misses his child, and wishes that he could play with and be the best friend to his child. It's a rather heartbreaking tune; I had a tissue on hand for it.

"Since then I've often wondered/ what you might have been like/ how it would have felt to hold you/ Would you have my eyes?/ Don't you think we would've been best friends?/ . . . / Now I live in a dream where I am/ holding your little hands/ I never got to meet you, my best friend/ . . . / You would be out in the sun/ until it was gone/ You would be watching Star Wars/ with your PJ's on/ You would be playing tunes on/ on your first guitar/ You would be harmony to/ every single part of me/ And you would have/ all the love in my heart/ Yeah, you would have/ all the love in my heart . . . "

"Papa Don't Preach," Madonna

Madonna was in her heyday in the '80s, when she was scandalizing American suburbia and ensuring everyone knew how edgy she was. But this song is truly counter-cultural: a story of a young woman finding out she's pregnant, only to decide to keep the baby and, in her strength, tell her father that she doesn't need judgment -- she needs help. I have to say, '80s Madonna, I was very impressed.

"You always taught me right from wrong/ I need your help, Daddy, please be strong/ I may be young at heart/ but I know what I'm saying/ The one you warned me all about/ the one you said I could do without/ we're in an awful mess, and I don't mean maybe -- please/ Papa, don't preach, I'm in trouble deep/ Papa, don't preach, I've been losing sleep/ But I made up my mind, I'm keeping my baby, oh/ I'm gonna keep my baby/ . . . / He says that he's going to marry me/ we can raise a little family/ Maybe we'll be all right/ it's a sacrifice/ But my friends keep telling me to give it up/ saying I'm too young, I ought to live it up/ What I need right now is some good advice -- please."

"Autobiography," Nicki Minaj (explicit language)

Nicki tells her story of how haunted she feels by her abortion by speaking directly to her child. She raps about how her guilt eats at her and how she hopes to see her child in Heaven one day.

"Please baby, forgive me/ Mommy was young/ Mommy was too busy tryna have fun/ Now I pat myself on the back for sending you back/ 'cause God knows I was better than that/ to conceive then leave you/ the concept alone seems evil/ I'm trapped in my conscience/ I adhered to the nonsense/ listened to people who told me I wasn't ready for you/ But how the f*** would they know what I was ready to do?/ And of course it wasn't your fault/ It's like I feel it in the air/ I hear you sayin’/ 'Mommy don't cry/ can't you see I'm right here?'/ I gotta let you know what you mean to me/ When I'm sleeping I see you in my dreams with me/ Wish I could touch your little face/ or just hold your little hand/ If it's part of God’s plan, maybe we can meet again."

Here's a handful of other, less-popular tunes that still deserve to be noted:

"Bear," The Antlers: A melancholy indie rock song about the post-abortive relationship of a couple and how it falls apart in the face of the pain and realization of abortion.

"Can I Live?," Nick Cannon: Told from Nick Cannon's perspective as a preborn child, pleading with his mother to choose life.

"Mazohyst of Decadence," Dir en Grey (graphic images in video): The story of an abortion from the perspective of a preborn child. It's a J-Rock (Japanese rock) song; the video has English subtitles.

"Retrospect for Life," Common ft. Lauryn Hill: The heartbreaking mourning of a post-abortive father who coerced his girlfriend into getting an abortion, and wonders about what life would have been like had he supported her instead.

"To Zion," Lauryn Hill: Lauryn Hill's ode to her son, Zion, in whom she recognized shared humanity and worthiness of the right to live, even though her friends were trying to convince her to abort for the sake of her career.

"Brick," Ben Folds Five: The story of the singer's high-school girlfriend and her choice of getting an abortion, followed by the demise of their relationship.

Head photo by Easa Shamih; some rights reserved.

Nicki Minaj photo from hnnssy25; some rights reserved.

#abortion #suicide

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