Our democracy is stronger when members of Congress meet with their constituents face-to-face to hear about the issues their communities care about. Yet, many elected officials—Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, and Senator Susan Collins, to name a few—refuse to hear from their constituents. Make no mistake: These politicians will not meet with their constituents because they’re scared. They know that there is a groundswell of support to protect and strengthen U.S. policies on reproductive health and rights around the world. They know their own abominable records on these issues. And they know that if they don’t support reproductive health and rights, we’ll come for their seats.
Constituents deserve to be heard, so over the last two weeks, #Fight4HER activists hosted virtual town halls to talk about the importance of reproductive health and rights. Across the country, we had #Fight4HER champions, reproductive health experts, and constituents engage in discussions about the state of global reproductive health and rights, how we can make sure our elected officials fight for reproductive freedom in Congress, and why we need to fight hard in 2020 to elect officials who will prioritize international family planning and reproductive health care worldwide.
In North Carolina, campaign organizer Tina Baker and the North Carolina Summer of HER fellow cohort hosted an Empty Chair Town Hall for Senator Thom Tillis—engaging 80 participants. Congresswoman Alma Adams outlined her support for the Global HER Act and the #Fight4HER campaign. Candidate Deborah Ross, running to unseat George Holding (NC-2), joined the Town Hall, affirming her support of the Global HER Act to repeal the Global Gag Rule, and thanking young activists for all their hard work and energy. We were also joined by Cora Martin, a UNC-Chapel Hill student and Summer of HER Fellow; Maya Hart, the North Carolina Coordinator of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective; and Lela Ali, Organizer at Planned Parenthood of the South Atlantic, who called out Sen. Tillis’ shameful record and talked about the need to fight for reproductive health, rights, and justice worldwide. Check out the full town hall here.
(Left) Congresswoman Alma Adams video in support of the #Fight4HER campaign. (Center) Candidate Deborah Ross thanking #Fight4HER activists. (Right) Top fellow Cora Martin on why she is in the #Fight4HER.
In Nevada, campaign organizer Emily and the fellow cohort hosted a Reproductive Rights Town Hall with Congresswoman Susie Lee’s campaign manager, engaging 49 participants. Alvin Chan, Field Director for Susie Lee for Congress, joined the Town Hall and highlighted the importance of getting involved this election and why it’s so important to get folks to volunteer. Alyssa Cortes, Senior Regional Organizing Lead for the Human Rights Campaign in Nevada, and Francisco Barajas, Summer of HER Fellow, also spoke about why they believe that everyone deserves access to comprehensive reproductive health care, and why we must overturn harmful U.S. policies that restrict access to care worldwide. Check out the full town hall here.
In Ohio, campaign organizer Carrie and the Ohio Summer of HER fellow cohort hosted an Empty Chair Town Hall for Senator Portman. Over a hundred (101) people tuned in throughout the town hall to hear about reproductive rights and health around the world, and Sen. Portman’s abysmal record on the issues. Candidate Alaina Shearer, running to unseat Troy Balderson (OH-12), joined the Town Hall and reaffirmed her commitment to passing the Global HER Act if elected and fighting for justice and equal rights. She thanked #Fight4HER activists for all the work they’re doing to help flip Ohio’s 12th district. Elaina Ramsey, Executive Director of the Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, reminded activists that we need to let Sen. Portman know there are people of faith all across the Buckeye state who support access to abortion and all reproductive health care because of their faith, not in spite of it. Sierra Dobbs-Brown, Central Ohio Regional Field Manager at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Greater Ohio, Ariana Yabarra, Central Ohio Organizer at NARAL Pro Choice Ohio, and Sterling Clemmons from Mozaic, all also joined to call out Senator Portman for his terrible record on reproductive health. Check out the full town hall here.
(Left) Alaina Shearer joining the #Fight4HER Empty Chair Town Hall. (Center) Sierra Dobbs Brown from Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio highlighting the state of reproductive rights in Ohio. (Right) Elaina Ramsey Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition for Reproductive Choice highlighting the importance of being faithfully pro-choice.
In Colorado, campaign organizer Kate and the Summer of HER fellow cohort hosted an Empty Chair Town Hall for Senator Gardner with 35 participants. Karen Sugar, Director and Founder of Women’s Global Empowerment Fund, talked about the repercussions of the Global Gag Rule she has seen working globally—with women’s lives in the balance, it is a life or death situation. Gail DeVore, Co-President of Colorado Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and Annmarie Itzel Evans, Chair of Northern Colorado NOW, both joined to call out Senator Gardner’s shameful record on reproductive health and rights. Check out the full town hall here.
In California, campaign organizer Joanna Garcia-Cano and the Summer of HER fellow cohort hosted a Reproductive Rights Town Hall with Congressman Bera—engaging 44 people. Congressman Ami Bera joined the Town Hall and declared his unyielding support of the Global HER Act. He reminded participants that we have 100 days until election day, and hopefully we will get an administration that on day 1 will rescind the Global Gag Rule and work to pass the Global HER Act through Congress to make it law. He reminded participants of his commitment to empowering people to be in charge of their own bodies and their own health care decisions, which is a key component to empowering women and girls around the world. Kavleen Singh, California State Organizer of URGE (Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity), joined to talk about the importance of fighting for reproductive justice and overturning policies that impact access to comprehensive reproductive health care. Summer of HER fellows Eden Gethun and Jose Munoz finished off the call to talk about why they #Fight4HER—sharing their experience having immigrant families from Ethiopia and Mexico. Check out the full town hall here.
(Left) Congressman Bera joined the #Fight4HER California Reproductive Rights Town Hall. (Right) Kavleen, the URGE Organizer, describing the state of reproductive rights in California.
In Pennsylvania, #Fight4HER organizer Colin Chadwick and the Pennsylvania Summer of HER fellow cohort hosted a Reproductive Rights Town Hall, and over 60 participants joined in. Katherine Gladstone, Congresswoman Susan Wild’s Campaign Manager, joined to talk about the Congresswoman’s dedication to fighting for the health and rights of people around the world and her support of the #Fight4HER to end the Global Gag Rule. Katherine reminded participants about just how important the upcoming election is, and what they can do to get involved. Theresa Gassert, a reproductive health activist, called on participants to make sure that our politicians here in the U.S. aren’t making reproductive health decisions for people around the world with policies like the Domestic and Global Gag Rules. Check out the full town hall here.
In Arizona, campaign organizers Leigh and Brittany and the fellow cohort hosted an Empty Chair Town Hall for Senator McSally, where 80 people tuned in. Speakers represented both Phoenix and Tucson. Brittany MacPherson, #Fight4HER Organizing Director, launched the town hall by highlighting that Sen. McSally hasn’t held a town hall—she has only held little secret ones for anti-choice Republicans. We’re doing this town hall to make sure McSally knows just how many of her constituents support global reproductive rights. Eloisa Lopez, Chair of the Abortion Fund of Arizona; Asha Ramakumar, Pro-Choice Arizona volunteer and #Fight4HER Phoenix volunteer; Sedona Lynch, NextGen Arizona Regional Organizing Director in Tucson; and Yakeleen Almazan, Summer of HER Fellow in Tucson, AZ, all joined to call out Sen. McSally’s devastating record on reproductive health and rights, and to remind participants of the critical importance of the upcoming election. Check out the full town hall here.
(Left) Campaign organizers Brittany and Leigh launching the town Hall. (Right) Sedona Lynch from NextGen explaining the state of reproductive rights in Arizona.
In Maine, we hosted a virtual Empty Chair Town Hall for Senator Susan Collins to highlight her failure to uphold and protect the reproductive rights of people everywhere. Over 100 people engaged with their virtual town hall to hear why Mainers support reproductive health and rights for everyone. Kait Thomson, Northeast Regional Organizing Manager of NARAL Pro-Choice America, spoke about her own experience navigating the health care system, and how that has motivated her to fight for reproductive freedom. She called out Sen. Collins for her refusal to protect the reproductive rights of Mainers and people across the world. Summer of HER fellows also joined to talk about why they #Fight4HER, and why they know Sara Gideon is the right choice for Maine. Check out the full town hall here.
These town halls were a great reminder that people across the country demand elected officials who will prioritize access to reproductive health care worldwide. As we head into a big November—and arguably the most important election of our lifetimes—we need to know who will champion legislation to fight reproductive rights and health, and who’s standing in our way.