There are a lot of reasons to hit the polls Tuesday for the 2014 Midterm Elections -- not the least of which being that you, the voter, have the ability to greatly impact a passel of issues related to women's rights just by filling out a bubble on your ballot. MTV News reached out to Lizz Winstead, founder of political activist group Lady Parts Justice, to find out more about these issues -- and what impact they could have on the lives of women in the U.S. following tomorrow's vote.
The LPJ boss took some time out from her busy schedule of working with folks like comedian Sarah Silverman and "Girls" actress Jemima Kirke to spread awareness pre-election to answer all of our questions related to women's issues and why they matter this year at the polls. Check our conversation below:
MTV: So what exactly is Lady Parts Justice? Sounds like a superhero or something.
Lizz: Lady Parts Justice is the first not-safe-for-work rapid response reproductive rights messaging hub that infuses comedy, pop culture and digital media. Think of it as a feminist Funny or Die with a component that tells you how to take action.
MTV: What do you guys do?
Lizz: LPJ is working to engage young voters and bring voters that are usually not engaged into the political fold. We want people to realize that politicians at the state level are working tirelessly to strip them of their constitutional rights, often by sneaking in anti-choice legislation in the dead of night. By infusing messaging with pop culture we hope to create an online environment that people want to incorporate into their lives, which will hopefully inspire them to prioritize fighting for justice as well.
MTV: Can you tell us about some of the things you've done in the fighting-for-justice department?
Lizz: On September 27 we held our first annual 'V to Shining V' event with parties all across the country and eight major festivals that had local comedians, musicians and activists [performing in their home states]. Sarah Silverman [performed] in her home state of New Hampshire. I went to Minnesota. [Salon editor] Joan Walsh [went to] Wisconsin.
The first year was a huge success [when it came to] reaching out to young voters -- reminding them that autonomy over their bodies is at stake in the midterms and how important it is to get them and all of their friends to the polls to vote.
They came, they laughed, they danced, they heard the message and they committed to GOTV [Get Out The Vote].
MTV: So, what are some issues that we should all be aware of when we hit the polls Tuesday?
Lizz: In Colorado, voters are voting on Amendment 67, which would redefine the words 'person' and 'child' in the criminal code. This would allow law enforcement to convict women who have an abortion, but because of the redefinitions, it [also] could punish women for reasons out of their control -- including stillbirths, miscarriages or substance abuse.
Similarly, in North Dakota, they are voting on an extremely vague and dangerous personhood amendment called 'Life Begins at Conception.' The amendment would ban all abortion services even in cases of rape or incest. The amendment would allow North Dakota to be the FIRST state to define life as beginning at conception. Not only that, it could criminalize miscarriage and ban certain forms of birth control! So, no birth control: the thing that can prevent abortions. Good call, North Dakota.
Finally, Tennesseans are voting on Amendment 1, which is deliberately worded to confuse voters about what they are voting on. The amendment would ban all abortions -- including when women are victims of rape or incest, or when a woman's life is in danger. If passed it could cause a domino effect, and other states would try to follow suit.
MTV: Why are these issues so important? Why should we vote on them?
Lizz: These personhood amendments eliminate any abortion access to women in these states -- even in life or death situations.
Women would lose the right to choose when and if they want a family. Republicans and conservatives don't want our government to regulate taxes, be involved in children's education -- they don't want to provide everyone with healthcare or make sure our planet is here for future generations by addressing climate issues. BUT the one thing they want to do is regulate a women's body. They want to control women. It's not right and their terms need to end.
There are a lot of races that are neck-and-neck where a progressive on reproductive rights is neck-and-neck with a candidate who wants these personhood laws to be the law of the land in all 50 states.
Joni Ernst in Iowa, Cory Gardner in Colorado, Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Tom Cotton in Arkansas are extreme Tea Party candidates who, if elected, could change the senate to Republican control, and turn a woman's control over her reproductive decisions over to politicians -- and her boss.
It is so important we vote so that does NOT happen.