If you’re interested in advocating in opposition of cuts that would have a devastating impact on our nation’s ability to prevent unintended pregnancy, HIV, and other STDs and promote health for all Americans—
First - Determine who represents you in Washington, DC.
To find out who your Representative is, insert your zip code here. In the case that there is more than one member representing the area within your zip code, you will be directed to the post office website where you can enter your address in order to receive your 4-digit zip code extension. Once you enter that information, the website will tell you who your Representative is and direct you to his/her website.
To find out who your two Senators are, just click here. Select your state and you will receive website information for the two Senate offices representing you.
Second - Think about what kind of action you want to take.
You can contact your Representative or Senators through an in-person meeting, at a town hall or public forum, or by phone or email.
- Right now, you can have the greatest impact with an in-person meeting with your Representative and/or Senators or their staff in their district office. Most Members of Congress have staff dedicated to managing their schedules both while they are in Washington and at home in their district. To schedule a meeting, go to their website, find the district office closest to where you live, and ask to speak with the Scheduler who is responsible for their schedule while they are in the district. You can also schedule a meeting with the staff person who works on health issues (See Making the Most of Your Meeting below).
- Attend a public forum, town hall meeting, or other event — and ask whether your Representative and Senators will take a stand against these dangerous funding cuts. Go to their website to find their next public event.
- If you would like to call your Representative and/or Senators, you can call the Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121. Then ask for the office you’d like to be connected to (See the Phone Script below).
- If you would like to email your Representative and/or Senators, go to their websites and find the section usually labeled “Contact.” From there you will see an online form to fill out with space for your contact information and email (See the Letter Example below).
Third - Take Action!
Make the Most of your Meeting
Whether you are meeting with your Member of Congress or with their staff, time will be limited, usually to only 15 to 30 minutes, so you want to be prepared to make the most of this time!
Tell the Member of Congress or their staff that you are concerned about the proposed cuts to programs dedicated to health care access and prevention education and that you oppose cuts to sex education, family planning, and other vital health programs
- Let your Senators, Representative, or their staff know that you oppose any Fiscal Year 2011 spending bill that guts sexual and reproductive health care and prevention efforts in the United States.
- Tell them the proposed cuts would have a devastating impact on efforts to prevent HIV, other STDs, and unintended pregnancy, and may jeopardize the health care access of our nation’s low-income individuals.
- Make it personal and district-specific. Meeting with your Member of Congress is an opportunity to tell your story and illustrate the need for continued health and prevention funding. Tell the story of, for example, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Title X, or CDC funding in your state/city and make the case for continued funding. Tell the Member your concerns about how cuts to funding will impact real people in your community. Prepare personal stories and anecdotes to share, as well as statistics from your community.
- Ask for a commitment to oppose any budget bills that gut sexual and reproductive health care and prevention efforts in the United States. Be as specific as you can. After you have discussed the importance of health and prevention funding, ask the direct question, “Will you oppose any funding bill that eliminates funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, the Title X family planning program, and Planned Parenthood or cuts funding for the CDC?”
- Feel free to bring a group! The purpose of your lobby visit is to help your Member of Congress understand the importance of funding for these vital health programs. Time is of the essence but, if possible, organize a group of community partners who can describe the role this funding plays in their work or the impact it has had in the community.
After calling the switchboard to be connected to your Representative and/or Senators, you can say:
“My name is ______ and I’m a constituent from _______. I’d like to speak with the staffer that works on health issues.”
They may ask what you would like to speak about.
“I would like to talk about my opposition to cuts for vital Fiscal Year 2011 health and prevention funding.”
From here you will either be connected to that staffer or you can leave a message for the member.
“My name is ______ and I’m a constituent from _______. I’m calling because I’m concerned about the proposed to cuts to programs dedicated to the health and prevention needs of Americans. I strongly urge Senator/Representative _______________ to oppose any Fiscal Year 2011 budget bill that eliminates funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, the Title X family planning program, and Planned Parenthood or cuts funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These cuts would undermine much-needed prevention efforts, low-income people’s access to health care, and the ability of our federal government to lead public health efforts around such issues as HIV/AIDS.
I need Representative/Senator _____ to stand up for this funding and the health of Americans by working to keep this funding intact.”
The staff may have questions. You can use the additional resources on SIECUS’ website or share your personal story about why this vital health funding should be maintained. Otherwise, you can end here (especially if you are leaving a message).
Keep in mind you don’t have to have all the answers. If there are questions you do not know the answer to, simply say “Let me get back to you on that,” take the staffer’s contact information, contact SIECUS—we can help answer your question—and call the staffer back the with correct answer.
This is an easy example you can simply cut and paste and fill in the blanks. If you have a personal story about the success of federally funded prevention and health care programs in your community, this is also an opportunity to include it.
Dear Representative/Senator ___________,
“My name is ______ and I’m a constituent from _______. I’m concerned about the proposed to cuts to programs dedicated to the health and prevention needs of Americans. I strongly urge Senator/Representative _______________ to oppose any Fiscal Year 2011 budget bill that eliminates funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, the Title X family planning program, and Planned Parenthood or cuts funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These cuts would undermine much-needed prevention efforts, low-income people’s access to health care, and the ability of our federal government to lead public health efforts around such issues as HIV/AIDS.
I need Representative/Senator _____ to stand up for this funding and the health of Americans by working to keep this funding intact. The draconian cuts in vital family planning and reproductive health programs included in HR 1 come at the expense of young people, their families, and their communities. Sacrificing them under the guise of deficit reduction won’t balance the budget; it will cost more in the long-run.
That’s because for every dollar invested in family planning, nearly $4 is saved in return. Each year, the Title X family planning program serves more than five million people and helps prevent nearly one million unintended pregnancies. In every state, women and men rely on Title X for basic primary and preventive health care, including annual exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, contraception, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. In addition to cutting all funding for Title X, the House-passed CR also eliminates all funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative and bans all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. These ideological cuts will leave millions of young women and men without access to comprehensive information and services, endangering not just their health and lives, but those of countless others.
The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative supports evidence-based programs and innovative approaches that help reduce teen pregnancy and underlying risk behaviors for more than 100 grantees across the country. These grantees have the potential to serve more than 800,000 youth in nearly every state throughout the life of the program. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives eliminated funding for this critical program in H.R. 1. I urge you to ensure that this much-needed funding is continued as the appropriations process moves forward.
It is also crucial that we at least maintain current investments in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which focuses, in part, on combating the HIV, STD, and unintended pregnancy epidemics in our nation. I appreciate your continued support for these programs and the important work that they do such as the delivery and evaluation of behavioral interventions, structural interventions, surveillance, and other preventative education programs
Thank you for your consideration.
Fourth - Tell everyone what you did and encourage them to do the same!
That wasn’t so hard, right? One call or email is great, but hundreds or thousands of calls and emails is even better! Magnify your impact by asking your friends and colleagues to contact as many offices as possible.