When I was given the opportunity to lobby with the Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition in Richmond on February 3rd, I was honestly nervous. I had never lobbied before, and I was not entirely sure if it would be a good fit for me. Coming out of this experience, I feel that I enjoyed the experience and would do it again.
After we arrived in Richmond, we were given a briefing on the several pieces of legislation that the coalition was going to cover. I decided to go with the group that had two main objectives: supporting closing the Medicaid Coverage Gap, and opposing House Bill 1090. House Bill 1090 would prohibit the Virginia Department of Health from granting funds or entering into contracts with any health care providers that preform abortion. I picked this group because I felt that I could learn a lot from the others in my group who were professionals in this field.
Our group managed to speak to four representatives- or their staff. I felt that overall our group was effective in sharing with them why access to health care services was important to us. What I felt made the difference in speaking to representatives was the ability to share personal stories. There were people from all backgrounds who shared how it felt to see people they know fall into the Medicaid coverage gap, and have to forego medical care when they needed it. We also heard from people from Planned Parenthood about how they offer so much more than abortion services- they see men and women utilizing a variety of services for a lower cost.
My personal favorite part of the day was being able to see the Senate in action- and for the Coalition to receive an introduction from the Senators. The chamber was extravagant, and it was a great experience for someone like me who has never been a part of the legislative process.
Overall, I felt that the experience was a great one to have. I enjoyed hearing from those who had personal stories to share, and was inspired by them. I think it is the personal stories that provide the strongest response. It is easy to feel like the legislative process does not always see how much one bill can affect a large proportion of people for the worse. I know that this experience will personally make me follow these bills more closely, and let my representatives hear my voice more frequently than just one day, so that they can remember that one action can harm more people than help.