My body is not your political football.
I’ve been to the state capitol three times to advocate for women’s rights. I’ve advocated for standards for sex education in the schools, for hospitals to offer Emergency Contraception to rape victims, and against ridiculous and unnecessary abortion restrictions, for which there is no medical justification (like a 24 hour waiting period).
It is a very powerful experience to ride on a bus with like-minded people who are so passionate, that their energy courses through your own veins. All that energy despite the disbelief that we are still trying to prove to law makers that women actually matter.
It is also quite an experience to shake the hands of a Senator who really doesn’t give a hoot about your cause. It makes you want to cry when you go observe what is happening on the “floor.” You have a legislator talking about their bill and only a few of his/her colleagues actually listening. The rest are talking to each other, their aides, on the computer, or on their cell phone. Then they take a vote! How can you vote on something that you barely know anything about? And that’s where we come in. If we take the time to call or visit our legislators, we can educate them on the issue and tell them which way we’d like them to vote. Even the legislators who support us often don’t know what’s in a bill because they might not be in the committees that get to hear it first. They might not hear about it until its time to vote on it. As one Representative’s aide put it, many votes turn into “values” votes because the House is too “intellectually deprived” to make decisions based on science, medicine, and research.
I lobby because I want legislators to hear from real people, not just hired guns who work for some lobbying group with deep pockets. They need to hear that women’s rights are human rights and that her health affects that of her family. I lobby because I believe that education + access to birth control = power. I participate in the process because I can. A democracy depends on the people telling their elected officials how they feel.
Remember, real change happens at the policy level. Have you ever lobbied for an issue that’s important to you?