'Lady Parts Justice in the New World Order' shows a group of women comics helping you keep the government out of your uterus
The journey of the "badass feminists," to a 16-city comedy tour ‘The Vagical Mystery Tour’ was recently captured in the docu-series 'Lady Parts Justice in the New World Order'
Learning about the current state of women's reproductive rights in the country has never been this fun! A group of popular female comedians, cultural influencers and technologists, who call themselves the Lady Parts Justice (LPJ) league, are fighting the current Trump administration's regressive stance on reproductive rights through humor and outrage. The league is touring across America to educate people about the alarming erosion of their access to abortion rights in particular, especially with the conservative government at the helm of it all.
The journey of the women, who call themselves "badass feminists," to a 16-city comedy tour ‘The Vagical Mystery Tour’ was recently captured in the docu-series 'Lady Parts Justice in the New World Order', directed by Ruth Leitman. The series follows the league — spearheaded by the co-creator of 'The Daily Show' Lizz Winstead — as they take a hands-on approach to support abortion clinics, patients and use comedy as their ultimate tool to assimilate funds and mobilize voters towards the 2018 midterm polls to fight for their rights.
The human rights roads series uses political satire to throw light on the dismal condition of abortion clinics fighting for survival in the country and highlights how more than half of the states in the US have restrictive legislation when it comes to access to abortion in the country.
We got talking to the filmmaker of the series, Leitman, who told Meaww that she decided to take action and make the series "before things worsened." Leitman, who has directed six feature-length documentary films including “Alma,” which won the Documentary Feature Jury Prize at the Hamptons Film Festival, said that she felt "compelled" to work on this project after the election of Donald Trump as US President.
What inspired you to make a film on the Lady Parts Justice league and their journey so far?
After the election of Donald Trump and a highly conservative Congress, I felt compelled to train my lens and focus on a project about reproductive rights that followed Lizz and LPJ because they were on the ground, working with independently-run clinics and reproductive rights stakeholders in a way that hasn’t been seen before. No other organization does the kind of work they do to help pave the way for abortion clinics to perform the services women need.
Because reproductive rights were under threat when the new political leaders took office, I decided to take action now before things worsened. This is personal for me because we were looking at legislation akin to pre-Roe times across America and my great-grandmother died of complications from a self-induced abortion. As a teenager, I was able to choose to have an abortion to save myself from ties to an abusive partner.
How important do you think this film is in today's times when access to women's reproductive rights is becoming more restrictive. Do you think it will have the desired impact on the viewers?
This series is innovative in the way that it follows an unconventional group of women fighting for their rights through unique means: Comedy. I think this film is greatly important for humanizing the issue of reproductive health rights by involving humor and tying it to service for communities in need of reproductive health resources. As the anti-choice movement gains strength and mobility, it is incumbent upon pro-choice organizations to find innovative ways to galvanize people in marginalized communities and empower them to take action. Lady Parts does this with their work, which is why I decided to follow them.
The midterm election has seen a historic number of women getting elected this time around. Do you see women’s reproductive rights getting better in the country in the coming years?
While some progress has been made in terms of empowering women voters to use their voting power, a significant number have voted to elect conservative men to represent their districts and states. A large number of these women are white and they trend towards favoring some very controversial legislation that is inhumane towards women. It represents a tremendous disconnect between women and their bodily autonomy.
Alabama and West Virginia passed constitutional amendments that would restrict abortion access. Do you think it’s a sign of what’s to come if Roe V Wade gets overturned?
In many ways, these two issues are separated by state and federal law, but it does indicate a horrific trend towards triggering additional trap laws for women seeking abortion at the state level. What made the amendment in Alabama’s state constitution so catastrophic is that the rights of the embryo in the personhood law outweigh the rights of the mother in terms of access to choice. In West Virginia, the ballot measure too away a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, and these are the kinds of things that states are strengthening in order to have legislation in place if and when Roe is overturned.
When this happens, the laws of the state will take effect as the acting legislation in place of federal law. This is part of a larger plan to continue challenging the 1992 Casey vs Planned Parenthood verdict in which an undue burden must be proven in order to allow a woman access to abortion. When there are trends in states like Texas where clinics have to bury or cremate medical waste, politics are showing more signs of endangerment of women. On a positive note, the fact that the house went democratic prevents another bill being introduced to defund Planned Parenthood in 2019.
Lady Parts Justice comes across as a defining moment in informartive comedy about women's reproductive rights combined with humor. Do you see more such groups coming up in the future?
Lady Parts has inspired and collaborated with many organizations with similar goals on projects such as #ExposeFakeClinics which is a campaign to bring awareness to the 4,000 fake clinics that exist in America compared to the under 1000 clinics that actually do provide abortions and other services for women. One of the most important aspects of this is the fake clinics (crisis pregnancy centers) who receive state funding as well as funding from religious organizations whose sole purpose is to prevent a woman from having an abortion at any cost.
These clinics are not required by law to provide medically accurate information which allows them to be deceitful about the stage of a woman’s pregnancy, a full range of options, and other information that women should have the right to know.
The innovative measures LPJ uses to inspire action in women and for women has demonstrated the unconventional ways one can enact change in the modern era. The Human Fake Clinic Actions that they staged this past summer in several cities in America publicly demonstrated exactly what these fake clinics do to women using firsthand experience.