POLITICS
09/21/2015 04:14 pm ET Updated Sep 22, 2015

Apple Rejects Hinder, A Reproductive Rights App By 'The Daily Show' Creator

Even though the tech company explicitly allows apps focused on political satire.

WASHINGTON -- Forget Tinder, a popular dating app that allows you to swipe left or right on pictures of local singles. Now you can download Hinder, a satirical app that exposes politicians who are trying to limit access to birth control, abortion or sex education in your state.  

Lizz Winstead, a co-creator of "The Daily Show," made Hinder to try to engage a generation of Tinder users in politics and the reproductive rights movement. 

"All of a sudden there's a satirical app like your hookup app that's telling you that, basically, if you choose to hook up with people, or you make a decision to live any kind of sexual lifestyle that you want, there are people who are desperately trying to prevent you from making that experience be safe, be acceptable, be a lot of things," Winstead told The Huffington Post in an interview.

But Hinder won't be available in the iTunes store. Apple rejected it earlier this month, telling Winstead's team the app's content violates Rule 14 of its app review guidelines, which bans "any App that is defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited, or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harm's way." Apple recently yanked games from iTunes that included images of the Confederate flag. 

But the same rule Apple cited in rejecting the app also states that "professional political satirists and humorists are exempt from the ban on offensive or mean-spirited commentary." As the creator of "The Daily Show," one of the most well-known political satire shows on television, Winstead assumed she would fit squarely into that category. 

"The biggest joke of all is they have an exemption for professional political satirists and humorists -- and dammit, I should have not been a florist all these years and gone into the satire realm!" Winstead joked. "I'm sorry, if you just Google my name, I'm basically the woman who does satire, and I've been doing it longer than most anyone else outside of Lewis Black."

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Instead of appealing Apple's decision, Winstead made Hinder available for download through the website of her reproductive rights advocacy group, Lady Parts Justice. LPJ is a collaborative effort of Winstead and her writer and comedian friends to use humor to rally young people around the reproductive rights movement. The group's website describes it as a "not safe for work, rapid response reproductive justice messaging hub that uses comedy, culture and digital media to sound an alarm about the terrifying erosion of reproductive access."

Hinder allows users to swipe through the profiles of various politicians to learn what they have said or done to hurt the progress of women and reproductive rights.

The profile for U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), for instance, includes a quotation from him: "Seeing the sonogram of my first daughter... convinced me more that it is every person's duty to protect the unborn." The app then lists controversial facts about Farenthold's career, such as the fact that he was sued by a former staffer in 2014 for allegedly saying he had "wet dreams" about her. 

While the app and its website are certainly irreverent, referring to politicians as "anti-choice douchebags" and "craptastic extremists," Winstead says the information in the app is entirely factual, so she's surprised Apple found it offensive.

"It's like, we agree that it's offensive that this many people get to say this many lies about reproductive health, about birth control, about women," Winstead said. "We're basically stating facts in a satirical way, but you can fact-check the app." 

A longtime reproductive rights advocate, Winstead says her work is inspired by the experience she had as a pregnant teenager in the late 1970s. She first sought care at an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center, where she had a traumatizing experience. 

"That was the most shaming, demonizing place, maybe I've ever been," Winstead said. "They showed me the graphic fetus pictures, and the woman told me my choices were 'mommy or murder.'" 

Winstead ended up choosing abortion. She feels grateful that she was allowed to make that decision, and now she feels "indebted to the cause."

"Do we want to make sure we have great, awesome parents, or do you want make it a punishment for those who know it's something they wouldn't be good at?" she said. 

So far, nearly 1,000 people have downloaded Hinder, and Winstead said she and her team will do an official launch of the app in mid-October. She hopes the app will engage young people in politics ahead of an election year, when politicians are constantly talking about limiting abortion access and defunding Planned Parenthood. 

"I think people are tired of stigma. They are tired of shaming," Winstead said. "One in three women have had an abortion. One in five have visited a Planned Parenthood. They know these places aren't what people are trying to portray them to be. Removing health care to help people is not being pro-anything." 

CONVERSATIONS