Any moral objections to 'Abortion Papers'?

prettyyoungthaang

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I only listened to 'Abortion Papers' for the first time today. And I must say I was shocked by the lyrics.

Personally, I am not religious and am pro-choice so obviously don't see God's relevance to whether a woman has an abortion, but can understand Michael's. However, I didn't think he would condemn women for making a choice for themselves.

"Those abortion papers. Signed in your name against the words of God"

It's not like a woman goes through an abortion with no complex thoughts or qualms; I feel like MJ doesn't understand the emotional impact making the choice to have an abortion has on a woman (at least in this song).

Obviously MJ loves children and wants to preserve their lives, but if a woman does not want/cannot have a child then it is her choice to terminate the pregnancy and I don't think he should bring God into it, because sometimes it's a necessary decision to make.

I guess in this song MJ kind of disappointed me. Am I the only one?
 
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ChrisC

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I think this is largely why the song didn't see the light of day.

But it's worth considering that Michael was a storyteller often in his songwriting. That he'd adopt characters and be the observer. It's also worth noting the song was written, I assume, around 30 years ago and that Jehovah's Witnesses are told that abortion is wrong.

There is the line "I'd like to have my child". Is this a woman terminating a pregnancy against the wishes of a father?
 

prettyyoungthaang

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There is the line "I'd like to have my child". Is this a woman terminating a pregnancy against the wishes of a father?

While that is true, I think the mother has the final say considering she is the one who will carry the baby for nine months and give birth to it.

But I understand what you mean, MJ's attitude might have changed over those 30 years, and I'm sure he is just trying to provide a different perspective.
 

HIStory

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Like Chris said, at the time MJ was still a JW or just came out of it, so his views might have been heavily influenced by its teachings. Whether right or wrong, but I think in a lot of things MJ was rather conservative than progressive. You can also detect that in his interviews with the rabbi. I don't know if his views on abortion later changed. But I think he did not like to be judgemental. Maybe that's exactly why the song was unreleased.
 

CodaBroda

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From Bad 25 album liner notes:

This is a song that Michael knew could be controversial, and, as a result, he spent a lot of time thinking about the story for the song and the voice through which the song should be told. The song is about a girl whose father is a priest and was raised in the Church and on the Bible, She gets married in the church, but decides, against the Bible, to have an abortion and she wants "abortion papers." As Michael indicated in his notes, "I have to do it in a way so I don't offend girls who have gotten abortions or bring back guilt trips so it has to be done carefully. I have to really think about it." This is an early example of a song with a controversial subject.

EDIT: Bolded for emphasis
 
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KOPV

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Michael never claimed in the song to be pro or anti abortion.. just the story of a struggle of someone dealing with abortion.. Michael at the time was not too shy from songs that would grab attention and awareness of any sort..
 

HIStoric

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I think it's for the best it remained unreleased, tbh. It's a really touchy subject and I interpreted it as MJ being against the concept of abortion (I'm pro-choice), so it could've really backfired against him due to the sensitive nature of the topic... especially nowadays where I imagine people are more accepting of it.

While I am fortunate to have not been in a situation where abortion has had to be considered, I don't imagine it's something most people do willy-nilly. It can be an extremely emotional process so imagine you had to get one (regardless of your view on it), you're distraught about it, you then come home to suddenly hear on the radio the biggest pop star in the world singing about how it's "signing your name against the word of God". Need I say more? It's something thats always on the back of my mind when I play the song. Even if Michael has never explicitly claimed to be pro or anti abortion, it's something people can and will interpret from the song (especially given the fact he was still a JW at the time of writing).

I'm really glad we got to hear it eventually because ignoring the lyrics and potential views expressed, I think it's a great song! Really fascinating how MJ makes you want to dance to a song about abortion of all things, he's really nailed that concept of making us want to dance to dark subjects. I just think it's one that shouldn't have been released to the mainstream at it's time of conception.
 
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Ms. BlueGangsta

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IMO I don't think MJ was twirling his mustache trying to make women who had gotten abortions or may need them feel bad.
We all know how MJ loved children, and I think that his views in Abortion Papers more so aligned with his love of children then being pro choice or pro life.
Regardless of how it translates, in Michael's mind I believe it wasn't whether or not the woman got an abortion, and that it was more about whether or not a child lived or died.
He was also raised very religiously and was still a JW at the time of the song's creation, which can be seen when he say "Sign your name against the word of God".
Over time I'm sure his views on such things changed.

Overall I think Michael was very open minded and progressive.
 

CodaBroda

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He certainly didn't want to offend, and, personally, I think he tried to convey that it is a very serious decision, not necessarily a moral one. I grabbed the more important section from the liner notes I previously posted:

As Michael indicated in his notes, "I have to do it in a way so I don't offend girls who have gotten abortions or bring back guilt trips so it has to be done carefully. I have to really think about it."
 

HIStoric

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IMO I don't think MJ was twirling his mustache trying to make women who had gotten abortions or may need them feel bad.

I certainly don't think he intended to make people feel bad either, just that it had the potential to. Michael wasn't the kind of person to intend those sort of feelings.

As I remember reading in Bad 25's notes (and as posted in here), I recognise and appreciate Michael's attempt to be conscious of the seriousness and sensitivity of such a topic. I think that ended up being a big factor for why it remained unreleased.
 
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FullLipsDotNose

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I don't know who said that, but I cosign this: "MJ is the only songwriter that could write a groovy song about a sensitive topic." Yeah, can you imagine people jamming to songs about abortion, domestic violence (Smooth Criminal), murders (BOTDF) and such?
 

innuendo141

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I take the song exactly as Michael intended - a story and nothing more. Regardless of Michaels view on the matter, I dont think he is subliminally trying to enforce his views. Just a story.
 

marialovesmjj

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It's interesting to hear everyones views on the subject.

As far as Michaels view on the subject it's hard to say. On one hand you can at least say at the time of writing the song he might have had a conservative view on it.

I take the song as a story and not much more. That quote above shows that he took the topic seriously.

but I think in a lot of things MJ was rather conservative than progressive. You can also detect that in his interviews with the rabbi.
The tapes that got released after he passed (or are you referring to something else?) Those were from 2001 or so right?

Even then...it would count for that time period. (I've never listened so I'll take your word for it)

A lot can change in just five years. Or 10 or even just 2. I know a lot of my views did.

I guess we'll probably never fully know. I think that at least later he was probably anti-abortion but also would be concerned for the welfare of children in general. Not just being born and that's it but the kind of lives they might have after that. I think that's something he would take into account and so because of it being a complex issue and not wanting to be seen as judgemental or anything he decided not to release it.
 
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It's not suprising, religions don't encourage progressivenes in general. Even if his religion at the time caused him to have a conservative way of thinking, I'm glad he wasn't a religious bigot who used his faith to take away people's rights.
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I'm an atheist, pro choice. Women should freely decide what to. do with THEIR bodies without others policing THEIR uterus, a fetus is not a human being after all yet.
 

xscape00

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i was shocked too when i heard the song for the first time. i think it's Michael's the most provocative song. i'm atheist and i think it's not necessary to take the god to that stuff. i respect his opinion but he should've known that sometimes the abortion is just the only decision
 

SheilaMJFan4Ever

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You don't have to be tied to a religion to be pro life. It's nice that he was concerned about possibly offending anyone, but you can't please everyone (and shouldn't try to.) He told a story about a hot topic and shouldn't have second guessed releasing it. There are women who use abortion as birth control, ffs! It's not always a thought out decision. If a song offends you, don't listen to it! He wasn't required to walk around on egg shells to express his art.

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MikeFann

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I can definitely see how this song can be (and is) controversial, which I don't believe was Michael intention, as several of you have stated. While I can see why there is opposition to it, I personally believe it's the woman's choice at the end of the day. I do agree him bringing god into it is a bit much; as a person who prefers not to subscribe myself to any religions, though, it doesn't bother me too much in this case...

Because the composition of this song is fantastic, which goes to show a song doesn't have to have a complex set of chords in order to be enjoyable. I love the mix of DX7 rhodes (or organ) and the Synclaviar strings and I can't say no to the vocal arrangement, either. I'm glad this song was released when it was though I can't imagine what it would have been like were it released back in 1987!
 

barbee0715

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I take the song exactly as Michael intended - a story and nothing more. Regardless of Michaels view on the matter, I dont think he is subliminally trying to enforce his views. Just a story.
I agree 100% on it being a story. Much like 'Papa Don't Preach' was a story.

Then I didn't hear it as a 15 year old who thought it was a reprimand from a superstar either.
 

LindavG

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I don't think Michael intended the song to be hurtful in any way but I'm still glad he didn't release it. For those who don't really 'get' Michael, it can sound like he is berating women as if having an abortion is just signing a piece of paper for them. There can be a lot of reasons why women may need an abortion and it's not a moral issue for me.

I do like the song itself though :)
 

HIStoric

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It really is a groovy song though! Like I can't help but dance in my chair right now and it funny's because if someone walked in and asked what I was listening to, "Oh it's just a Michael Jackson song about abortions", just imagine their reaction to that :lol:
 

KOPV

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well to be 100% honest I think Do You Know Where Your Children Are would have been a much more controversial song for MJ to release. Abortion paper would have gotten attention for it's topic and the time it would have been released.. But like DYKWCA - it's a story, not a personal perspective song... Its not from 1st person view nor does it give a personal belief inputs..
 

morinen

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It's a fictional artistic work. The lyrics fit the story and the character. It's not like Michael was making a political statement. I don't see any reason to be disappointed.
 

Adore

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There are women who use abortion as birth control, ffs! It's not always a thought out decision.

Firstly, this comment is spreading unsubstantiated nonsense and common misconceptions in defence of this song. It's unspeakably difficult for most women to get an abortion without going through multiple obstacles and questioning, regardless of their personal circumstances, not to mention the social stigma that makes it hard to have open and honest conversations about these measures. To irresponsibly accuse women of using abortion clinics as some kind of alternative to comparatively cheap, legal and readily available birth control like condoms, pills, implants, etc is misguided at best, degrading to how seriously the trained professionals who run these clinics take their jobs, adding to the aforementioned social stigma that women who seek abortions face, and also ignoring just how expensive and dangerous it is to both acquire and provide these services in many countries, including the US. Such are the consequences for spouting widely debunked pro-lifer rhetoric. If you are, as you claim, in favour of a woman's right to choose, it would do you well to consider more thoughtfully how you express this.


Secondly, anti-choice is a far more appropriate term for the likes of those who would politicise and police women's bodies for the supremacy of their religious whims, as a significant number of procedures are done in order to save the life of the pregnant woman. Those lives don't matter to 'pro-lifers', apparently. I wonder if reading accounts like this would help them find some empathy for those they would seemingly rather die than have agency over their reproductive rights, or god forbid, a tiny tax percentage to help protect the lives of those who work at and visit these clinics from the daily threat of violent zealots.


http://jezebel.com/interview-with-a-woman-who-recently-had-an-abortion-at-1781972395


Finally, as for all the 'it's just story, it's art' hand-waving in this post, that could be said of any MJ song, but it doesn't mean those songs were any less personally felt, regardless of the given 'narrator' in the lyrics. None of MJ's songs were created in some kind of vacuum, they came from his mind, and as has been documented tirelessly, he was not someone to go through with the recording of a song that he did not feel personally invested in; hence the continual revising of archived songs and themes throughout his work over a course of many years. Like another commenter here, I'm also given to believe MJ was fairly conservative (or 'Hollywood liberal', which is to say, not particularly liberal in any meaningful way), though I also feel there was no conscious ill intention in the creation of this song.
No art transcends critique or personal interpretation, no matter the subject matter. It's a sign of a balanced and healthy relationship in regards to an artist's output to engage with it in honest terms, and if that means being uncomfortable or disappointed, then that's completely valid. What isn't honest is mindlessly agreeing with everything someone's done and refusing to see things for what they are: A.P. is a challenging song, not everyone is going to like it. And that's OK.
 
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