Engaging with Your Representatives
If you have an email address or a social media account, you’ve likely been bombarded by organizations with an age-old request: contact your representatives. As the political atmosphere grows increasingly hostile, this might seem like a waste of your time. You may wonder, “Will my representative even see this?” or think “They already care about this issue, so what’s the point?”
Reaching out to your representatives is important to highlight issues you care about. You might not think that sending an email to your representative will make a difference, but by contacting your elected officials, you can bring much needed attention to critical issues.
While it is easy to think that using your voice won’t make a difference – especially if you are part of a marginalized community that has continuously been ignored and overlooked – you actually have a lot more power than you realize. Throughout all levels of government, the people who represent you work on countless issues – unfortunately, this could mean that the issues you care about are not at the top of their priority list. However, when a critical mass of constituents contact their representative about the same policy, they are forced to give it the attention it deserves. Additionally, contacting your representative about an issue where your beliefs align lets them know that they have the support of their district.
There are multiple ways to contact your elected officials. You can call their offices; set up virtual meetings; send them emails (usually via forms on their official websites); or even write and mail letters to their offices (though when it comes to Congress, it could take weeks to reach them due to security screenings). Recently, people have even taken to social media to make their voices heard. All of these are effective, but can be time consuming – that’s where organizations and grassroots advocacy efforts often come in. Through widespread campaigns, these groups allow you to enter your contact information in under a minute and send emails directly to your representatives on your behalf. Many even have space for you to include a message about how the issue impacts you or your community – these personalized messages are the most powerful.
Power to Decide has two active campaigns you can participate in RIGHT NOW to improve reproductive health:
One of Power to Decide’s campaigns supports the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA).
The passage of WHPA is important because it would block harmful laws that reduce access to reproductive health care. This is necessary now more than ever due to a Texas law, SB8, which bans abortion after six weeks. Protecting abortion access and allowing people to make decisions about their own bodies is imperative.
Many people, especially those in low-income and rural communities, do not have the necessary access to abortion services to ensure their health safety. Everyone deserves access to reproductive health care and WHPA is needed to ensure this access is readily available for all.
WHPA passed the House of Representatives after an historic vote (218-211) on September 24—and now we need the Senate to act. You can help us now by contacting your Senators and urging them to vote for WHPA – we need it more than ever.
Fund Title X and TPP
A second campaign calls on Congress to fund the high-quality sex ed and contraceptive care young people need to live their best lives. Now is the time to urge your representatives to provide robust funding for programs that give our young people the ability to live healthy lives and achieve their goals; programs such as the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program and the Title X Family Planning Program (Title X).
On September 30, Congress passed a continuing resolution, or a short-term deal to fund the federal government through December 3, narrowly avoiding a total government shut down. This means that TPP and Title X will be funded at their current level while Congress nails down a longer term spending bill. However, current funding is not enough. These programs have seen extensive attacks, and funding increases are necessary to meet the needs of the people who rely on them. The urgency of this need has only increased during the pandemic.
Increasing funding for the TPP Program will ensure this evidence-based program, recognized by a wide range of bi-partisan experts, can continue to generate high-quality research about how to meet the needs of young people—especially among those who face the greatest disparities.
Increasing funding for Title X will ensure that Title X-funded clinics can continue to offer high-quality contraceptive services, preventive screenings, and health education to people with low incomes, people lacking health insurance, young people, and others—as they have done for the last 50 years.
You can help us bring attention to TPP and Title X by contacting your representatives for their support. Reaching out to your representatives can make a big difference!
Want to stay up to date on the latest campaigns to contact your representatives? Sign up for Power to Decide’s Action Alerts.
Sitara Sayyed is the Public Policy Intern at Power to Decide where she assists the Public Policy team with federal policy issues. She attends University of Maryland where she studies Public Policy.
Samantha Berg earned her Master of Public Health and a Certificate in Sexuality, Sexual and Reproductive Health from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in May 2020. As the Policy Fellow for PTD, Sam works on state policy and telehealth access, which align nicely with her passion for public health and reproductive justice.