On May 11 and 12, 139 advocates from around the country came together in Washington, D.C., to promote the Women’s Health Protection Act. Below, three of our attendees share their stories: a faith leader from Tennessee, an activist from Texas, and a medical student from Massachusetts.
Name: Rev. Faye London
Home State: Tennessee
I was ambivalent about wearing my stole as we approached the capitol. I wanted my group to be taken seriously as we entered offices to talk about the Women’s Health Protection Act. After some wrestling and at the urging of others in my group, I donned my symbol of religious leadership and marched into our first meeting uncertain what level of authority or expertise might be expected as a result of the bright red, highly visible “accessory.” As our group of advocates opened up to legislators about the needs of women and the imperative that we do what we can to stop the attacks on abortion access, the authority that I had assigned to the piece of fabric around my neck revealed itself as present in the truth and power of our little group as a unit. No, we were not all religious people, nor were we operating under any particular religious authority. We were, however, all there in one spirit. In the end, my little stole added its voice to the beautiful symphony to remind legislators that women of faith need unimpeded access to full spectrum reproductive health care including abortion just like all other women and that we’re ready to stand up and demand it. The WHPA advocacy day experience served as a reminder that as a faith leader, it is my job to lift my voice for justice.
Name: Lidiana Ramirez
Organization: Texas Latina Advocacy Network of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Home State: Texas
Traveling to D.C. to meet with my congressman was a powerful experience. For many Latin@s in the Rio Grande Valley, our voices are often forgotten or fall on deaf ears, especially when it comes to issues that affect our reproductive health and decisions. Organizing in our city focuses on building power and claiming our seat at the table, but the Act for Women Advocacy Day allowed us to exercise that power in a new way that resulted in real impact: Representatives Castro and Vela became cosponsors of the Women’s Health Protection Act. We look forward to continued efforts in support of both the Women’s Health Protection Act and the EACH Women Act, which would help thousands of Latin@s in Texas and across the country.
Name: Liza Brecher
Organization: Medical Students for Choice
Home State: Massachusetts
When I decided to go to medical school I never imagined that I would have to fight to ensure that I could legally practice medicine how I want to. But I will do so to ensure that women have access to full healthcare. The passion that drives Medical Students for Choice to spend our free time learning the abortion and contraception content that often gets left out of our medical curriculum is the same kind of energy that legislators need to hear from the medical community. Before participating in the advocacy day, I didn’t understand just how much sway I have as a future health care professional. In school and clinic we often see our white coats as something that can make patients anxious or fearful, but on the Hill, my white coat communicated authority that allowed me to more effectively promote the Women’s Health Protection Act. As a student at Tufts University I have more time and freedom to pursue abortion-related activism, and I am excited to continue to do so with Medical Students for Choice.