This is a question I hear all the time, with regard to legislative advocacy. People want to do something, but they don’t know what to do. Obviously, the most helpful thing anyone can do is make the commitment to get informed and visit the Capitol regularly. However, that isn’t possible for everyone. Below is a list of other things you can do to help protect families’ right to choose their care provider and birth setting.
1. Call, write and email legislators. Then call, write and email again…and again. Polite persistence is the key. Generally, sending a handwritten letter is best, then follow-up with a call and follow-up the call with an email. ALWAYS contact your own legislator and let him/her know that you’re a constituent, even if he/she is not on the “right” committee. If you don’t know your legislator, click here. When corresponding, it’s important to treat anyone you speak with as if they were the legislator…an assistant who is treated with respect is more likely to pass along your message. Be brief and say what you need to say. Personally, I find it helpful to write out what I want to say and practice it a few times before calling. Ask the legislator what he/she thinks about the issue and try to pin him/her down. If you don’t know something, there’s no shame in saying “I’m not sure on that but I’ll find out and get back to you”.
2. Offer to watch your friend’s child(ren) so he/she can travel to the Capitol. You can watch them at home or offer to come to the Capitol so child can still be in the general vicinity. There is a neat museum on the main floor, and a large grassy area in the front. The Capitol Mall is also close by and has a nice little play area (or used to!).
3. Donate money to cover expenses. Know someone who wants to go to the Capitol but just doesn’t have an extra $20 for gas? Give it to them. Or offer to buy their lunch. Or pay for childcare. Know someone who is wonderful at writing letters but may not have stationery and stamps? Give them some.
4. Spread the word. Tell everyone you know about why access to legal Midwives is important and ask them what they think. Post notices and updates on your Facebook, write about it on your blog. Knowledge is power.
5. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, or any paper. Write about what Midwifery means to you, why it’s important, why you think HB301 is bad, etc.
6. Become a member of Friends of Missouri Midwives and attend meetings.
7. If you’re on Facebook, become a fan of Friends of Missouri Midwives and stay instantly updated.
8. Set up Google Alerts to be delivered to your inbox. To get these, go to Google’s homepage and click on the “more” tab at the top, or simply type in “google alerts” to the search bar. You’ll be able to pick key words and google will send you news articles/blog posts with those words in it. I have mine set to “missouri midwi” so that I get anything with midwife or midwifery or midwives in it. This is a great way to stay on top of what’s out there. Be sure to leave comments on articles!
9. Educate yourself on the issue by reading bills and the current law. Find out what’s good and what’s bad. Ask questions.
10. Get motivated and do anything, but do SOMETHING! :)