How would your state representative and state senator vote on these issues?
1. A bill to make breastfeeding in public an illegal, prosecutable criminal offense (indecent exposure)?
2. A bill to remove circumcision from the list of legislatively mandated benefits by Medicaid and BCBSM?
3. A bill to allow for state licensure of freestanding birth centers?
4. A bill to mandate that BCBSM cover prenatal care for all their insureds?
5. A bill to strip Certified Nurse Midwives of their ability to provide care to a laboring woman without the physical presence of a physician?
If you do not know the answer to these questions, you have some research to do! In order to be an effective advocate for change, it is critical that you take these very important steps.
STEP ONE: Find out who your state representative and your state senator are (the two people who represent you in your state– not D.C.). Find a few like-minded friends who are also constituents and make an appointment to meet with both your state representative and your state senator in the district to discuss these issues and others.
Once you have made a personal connection with your legislator, it is highly likely that he or she will contact you in the future when an issue pertaining to birth is up for consideration in the legislature. It is also highly likely that he or she will return your calls and listen to your thoughts on the various subjects.
STEP TWO: Check out your state’s legislative website. This website offers a keyword search of all pending bills in your state’s legislature. For example, you can type in “circumcision” and it will tell you if any bills have been introduced, its number, sponsor, and where it is in the legislative process.
STEP THREE: If you like what you’re hearing from your legislator, offer to volunteer in their next election. You can participate in campaigns in many simple, yet valuable, ways:
1. Going door-to-door in your neighborhood passing out campaign literature
2. Helping to get a campaign brochure mailed out to registered voters
3. Making “Get-Out-The Vote” phone calls the day before the election
STEP FOUR: If you don’t like what you’re hearing from your state legislators, offer to help their opponent in the next election! State Representatives are up for reelection every two years! (And their terms are limited to 3 two-year terms). State Senators run every four years (and their terms are limited to 2 four-year terms).
STEP FIVE: If you don’t like anyone, run for office! We need more birth-friendly leaders in our state!
Know who your state Representative and state Senator is.
This is who you will contact on birth-related issues to make your voice heard.
United States House of Representatives
—Find your state’s Representative by your zip code.
United States Senate
—Find your state’s Senator by Name, State or Party.
Check out your state’s legislative website.
State government websites offers a keyword search of all pending bills in the legislature. For example, you can type in “breastfeeding” and it will tell you if any bills have been introduced, its number, sponsor, and where it is in the legislative process.
The Library of Congress
-Search for current legislation online.
Have a say in the process.
When you learn that a bill addresses your issues, write the representative in charge, go to public hearings, and inform others. Write letters to public figures or the media (newspapers, magazines, TV, radio) when you think that they have misrepresented the facts of an issue.