Recess isn’t just for schoolchildren. From now until April 23, members of the House and Senate return to their home districts.
Between Congress' extreme efforts to block patients from care at Planned Parenthood to undermining international reproductive health programs, women's rights are in the political crosshairs. But women's health advocates know that standing up and speaking out can change the direction of government. Since the election, Planned Parenthood supporters have organized grassroots energy — from the Women's March to town halls — that helped bring down the Affordable Care Act repeal bill.
Now, Congress is on recess, and your members of Congress are likely at home in your district. It's a prime opportunity to continue the loud drumbeat of support for women's health.
Here’s why and how to make your voice heard and help ensure that your representatives truly represents you when they return to Washington.
Why Congressional Recess Matters
When members of Congress go home, they have to answer for their positions on women’s health and rights at their town halls, public appearances, and even at the corner store.
It’s important that lawmakers hear from Planned Parenthood supporters during the recess so they get the message that their constituents will hold them accountable, will not tolerate attacks on Planned Parenthood — and won't back down.
5 Ways You Can Advocate for Reproductive Rights This Recess
Here are the top five ways you can drive the #IStandWithPP message home while your members of Congress are nearby. Wondering what to say? See our “What to Tell your Member of Congress” section below.
1. Attend Your Senators’ and Representatives’ Events
When angry constituents demanded their lawmakers protect the Affordable Care Act, it was impossible to ignore.
Attending your lawmakers’ town halls or public events lets you advocate for reproductive rights during recess face-to-face with them and fellow constituents.
2. Meet Your Member of Congress
You can request an in-district meeting with your congressperson by reaching out to a scheduler. In your meeting, let them know that you won’t stand for attacks on women’s health.
3. Call Your Member of Congress
If you can’t make it in person, call your congressperson or Senator on the phone. You can find each lawmaker’s phone number on their official website. If you aren’t able to actually speak with them directly, it’s still helpful to speak with staffer or leave a message.
4. Write a Letter to the Editor
While your Member of Congress is on recess, they are certainly reading your local newspaper. Submitting a letter to the editor is a powerful way to get on their radar and send the message that you won’t stand for attacks on women’s health.
5. Attend or Host Your Own Pro-Planned Parenthood Event
Don’t forget that resistance can be a social affair. Get your friends, family, and neighbors involved in the action with an event in your community. You can attend an #IStandWithPP event or host one of your own.
What to Tell Your Member of Congress
Once you’re at a town hall, dialing up your member of Congress, or ready to write your letter, you may be wondering exactly what to say in order to advocate for reproductive rights. We’ve got you covered! Use these ideas and talking points:
Share a personal story
Has Planned Parenthood helped you or someone you care about? Sharing your personal story is an impactful way to illustrate the importance of protecting Planned Parenthood.
Talk about the importance of rejecting any legislation that threatens women’s health care
Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for Planned Parenthood and the health care it provides. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed that 75% of Americans support Planned Parenthood. If anti-abortion politicians succeed in cutting patients off from care, millions of people could be left without access to birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and other essential health care. Many of them will have nowhere else to go for the health care they need. Tell your lawmakers that any effort to “defund” Planned Parenthood and prohibit patients who rely on Medicaid from care at its health centers is not acceptable.
Talk about protecting the Affordable Care Act, including the birth control benefit
Before Obamacare became law, many women had to pay out-of-pocket for basic preventive health care like cancer screenings, Pap tests, and birth control — costing them hundreds of dollars a year or more. Furthermore, before the ACA’s birth control benefit went into effect, contraception accounted for 30% to 44% of women’s out-of-pocket health care costs. Preserving this benefit improves lives.
Talk about how Trump has targeted women since his first day in office
Even early into the administration, it’s clear that women are worse off under this president and this Congress. In less than 100 days, the Trump administration and Congress have waged a slew of political attacks on women’s health, including expanding the global gag rule, trying to gut maternity care coverage, eliminating funding for UNFPA, and outrageous attempts to block patients from care at Planned Parenthood health centers.
Say Thank You
If your lawmaker has been a champion of women’s health, recess is a great time to thank them for advocating for doing what’s right. By thanking women’s health champions for their efforts, you’ll help energize them for our fights ahead.