MTV VMAs: Cyndi Lauper, who had an abortion early in her career, gives stirring speech on women’s rights

By Clémence Michallon
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images

Cyndi Lauper gave a stirring speech in defence of women’s rights at the MTV Video Music Awards.

The singer spoke out on stage on Sunday (12 September), highlighting the need to stand up for equal pay and reproductive rights.

“Girls still want to have fun,” she said, referencing her 1983 hit of the same name. “But we also want to have funds. Equal pay. Control over our bodies. You know, fundamental rights!”

The crowd erupted in cheers and clapped in support of Lauper.

The singer’s address came amid ongoing concerns over reproductive rights in the US, after the Supreme Court declined to block new legislation banning most abortions in Texas.

The new law, which went into effect earlier this month, prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, which is usually around six weeks – before some people know they are pregnant. It does not make exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

It also enables any private citizen to sue abortion providers who go against the law, as well as anyone who are deemed to have assisted someone in receiving the procedure. This could include, for example, someone driving another person to a clinic.

The person who files such a lawsuit (who doesn’t need to have any connection with the person receiving the abortion) is entitled to a minimum of $10,000 if the lawsuit is successful.

Lauper herself has openly discussed receiving an abortion in her youth, after becoming pregnant while in a relationship with an early boyfriend.

In her 2012 memoir, Lauper recalled experiencing “sexism and bulls*** and arrogance” at a clinic where she sought care after the procedure because she was bleeding.

“While the student was examining me, I told them that it hurt, and the doctor said, ‘Well, why didn’t you just keep your legs closed in the first place?’” she wrote.

She said the comment made her realise that “if you didn’t come from a rich family with a parent there to protect you, you were at the mercy of of the clinic and a bunch of powerful men who put themselves in charge”.

Lauper added that the experience later motivated her to make donations to Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides sexual health care in the US and globally that had always been “kind and generous” to her.


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