By Ciara Reid, staff reporter
WICHITA - If the Lady Parts Justice League (LPJL) sounds like a conglomerate of superheroes, you may not be far from the truth. Founded in 2015 by Lizz Winstead (who is also the co-founder of The Daily Show on Comedy Central), the LPJL is comprised of writers, comedians, and producers who aim to educate the public about discriminatory abortion laws and the terrifying reality of diminishing reproductive rights.
Using humor as their primary weapon to disseminate information to the masses, the LPJL raises awareness through videos (more than 100 so far), social media, and now a nationwide tour appropriately titled “The Vagical Mystery Tour.” The tour spans eight weeks and hits 15 cities, including Wichita at Barleycorn’s on June 15.
“Every summer, hundreds and hundreds of anti-choice extremists get tons of funding to rent a giant tour bus to go ambush clinics across the country. Instead of taking their families to the Grand Canyon, or Niagara Falls, they literally drive around the country, screaming on sidewalks in front of abortion clinics,” Winstead says in a promotional video about the Vagical Mystery Tour. “Well the Lady Parts Justice League has our own little summer trip planned. It’s an eight-week, 15-city USO kind of tour that’s going to drown out these people with laughter, support, and love.”
Abortion rights hit close to home for Winstead, who had an abortion when she was 16. She realizes that the right that she once had is in danger of being extremely restricted or completely taken away for most women nationwide. In 2011, during a rise in abortion litigation, Winstead was in her home state of Minnesota, finishing her book. She felt the sudden urge to do something, so she piled her dogs in her van and drove back to Brooklyn, doing comedy shows and visiting clinics along the way. “I did benefits, I was vocal,” Winstead says in a phone interview. “I fell into causes I believed in.”
This isn’t your normal comedy show. In addition to featuring an array of nationwide comedians at every show, the LPJL will take a “boots on the ground” approach in each tour stop, meeting with the local abortion care providers and clinics and helping however they can during their several days in each city, whether it’s helping escort patients, prepare staff meals, or maintenance work. The LPJL will blow off steam with the local community with a comedy show in the evening, where attendees can have the opportunity to meet with abortion care providers and learn about their needs.
Winstead says her mission is not to tell people what to do. “Everyone wants to come and have fun, and that is what we can provide,” she says. “We can provide a stage for someone who represents a clinic, or other groups can come on stage and tell the audience about their work.”
The LPJL is currently fundraising to hit their goal of $30,000 to cover tour expenses. A portion of the money will also go to the outreach itself. The league wants to help local abortion clinics grow their escort programs, to improvement projects like building fences, gardening. “We want to help them any way we can,” Winstead summarizes in the video.
Those who attend a show on the Vagical Mystery Tour won’t be disappointed. Laughter and involvement at the local community level is a night well spent. “I just think that for anyone who has been ignited after the election, this will be a super fun night - come to the show,” she says. “Have fun, get tangible goals, and hear some comedy about local politicians.” l