Two weeks ago, on April 7th 2011, I attended the Planned Parenthood lobby and rally day in Washington DC. It was my very first real use of the U.S. political system outside of the utilization of my right to vote. I was nervous and (albeit embarrassed to admit) quite under educated about the true politics of “women’s health”. As an undergraduate student who was extremely involved in women’s health and education I used Planned Parenthood many times as a resource for the education and medical health of the women I worked with on campus. Thus, when I saw the flyer for the rally I contacted the coordinator that night to sign up.
In true over-worked, sleep-deprived med student fashion I debated backing out last minute for fear the rally would cut into my precious study time for our upcoming exams. Somehow, however I overcame the “med school mentality” and hopped on a bus the next morning with 30 other PP supporters ready to show Washington how important the Planned Parenthood organization is to this nation.
PP coordinators had packed the day full of lobby’s with Pennsylvanian senators including an all day rally on the national mall lawn. There were people from all walks of life who had come out to support the cause. It was truly inspiring to see the medley of medical providers, little children, senators, Catholics, atheists, mothers, and fathers all out in support of women’s health.
During the lobby sessions I heard both sides of the PP budget cut battle. Senators who supported PP were happy to see us and could not stop thanking us for being there for this important moment in the history of women’s health. Senators who opposed PP, however, showed sentiments at both ends of the spectrum, from understanding and speculation of facts about the organization to total disinterest.
While not every lobby session was able to convert a senator, there were plenty of lives changed by the day’s activities. I met a man at the rally who had come all the way from Tennessee, missing school and work, to share his voice with congress and keep his sister and future daughters safe and reproductively healthy. I can’t tell you how many locals stopped to talk to him as they were riding by on their bicycles and how many women came up to thank him for coming.
This brings to light the point that, while we as health care professionals do work extremely hard every day to protect the health of our patients in our offices and on the wards, there are other important educational and health promoting opportunities out there that can make us even better at what we do, so we should choose to engage in them.
Sometimes it takes being on the front lines of the fight to really realize the true meaning of why were fighting at all.
For more info on Planned Parenthood/how to get involved CLICK HERE
For info regarding the budget cuts involving PP visits CLICK HERE
Blog post by Nicole Perry, MS II