A Guide to Testifying at the Florida State Capitol During Legislative Session
By Florida Community Content Network | Aug. 6, 2021, 5:35 p.m.
Testifying against anti-abortion legislation is the closest I have come to feeling like an actual agent of change. While I have served my community in many ways, speaking as a representative of people everywhere who deserve access to abortion and healthcare was truly empowering. Sharing my testimony and voicing my opinion on anti-reproductive health legislation gave me the chance to fully embody my support for Planned Parenthood and showcase my pride as a queer woman who deserves the right to choose what is best for my body.
If you have testified, you may resonate with this experience. If you have not testified but want to know what it’s like, this blog post is for you. Let me tell you a little bit more about what my experiences have been like:
The first thing to understand about testifying is that it’s both intimidating and inspiring. Anti-abortion bills are typically scheduled with as little as 24 hours notice, and they are heard by committees that meet in the middle of the workday. Organizing a group of volunteers to testify on short notice is probably the most chaotic part of the experience. In the past, I’ve had to call out of work or delay a school project to share my voice.
Once complicated schedules are organized and volunteers have confirmed their attendance, you show up early to the Capitol building in your Planned Parenthood shirt and receive instructions from your lead organizers about the strategy for the day. This is always when I’m most nervous, staring up at those tall stairs that lead into a huge building full of people who run the state government, people that determine many aspects of our livelihood.
Once you receive the instructions from your lead organizer on when each bill will be heard and what you need to include in your testimony (if you haven’t written it already), you march inside confident yet anxious, passionate yet unsure of how the day will go.
I love when Planned Parenthood’s volunteers are in the Capitol together. You can tell our presence is felt by a legislature that leans towards anti-abortion ideology.
When you arrive in the committee room, you will need to fill out paperwork about why you are there and who you are representing. Planned Parenthood’s team does an excellent job of guiding you through this paperwork, so there is no need to stress about this. Then, you sit down and wait as legislators and citizens discuss any other bills on the agenda for the day. When the bill you are testifying against finally gets called, you may be filled with the existential dread that we all feel when we are about to speak publicly. Pushing through it is worth it to speak your mind in the fight against cruel anti-abortion legislation.
In my moments at the podium, there have been times I’ve read directly from my notes, and times I’ve gone completely off script and spoke from my heart about the importance of reproductive healthcare in Florida. Speaking directly to Florida legislators is mind-blowing and nerve-wracking. You can really feel your impact in a room filled with anti-abortion attitudes.
Once you and your volunteer group are done speaking against a bill, Planned Parenthood’s team will debrief you on what happens next and congratulate you for doing so well.
After testifying at the State Capitol, your heart may swell with pride and passion for activism as mine has many times.
My advice is to soak in that feeling on your ride home and into the rest of your day because you deserve to feel proud of yourself and your advocacy efforts.
Now that you know the ins-and-outs of testifying at the Florida Capitol, you have nothing to fear! Contact your local Generation Action organizer or sign up as a volunteer to learn more about testifying virtually or in-person at the 2022 Florida Legislative Session. Be the change you want to see in the world.