By Jesse Turner
On Tuesday the 28th, I joined Planned Parenthood, with whom I intern with their Teen Council program (a peer-to-peer sexual health education program) and five other organizations as a part of the Reproductive Health Equity Coalition to lobby state senators and representatives to pass House Bill 2232 which requires coverage for reproductive health services, procedures, medications, and devices for all Oregonians, insured and uninsured, documented or not. Planned Parenthood was a part of the Reproductive Health equity coalition so the Teen Council program got to join over 100 individuals who acted as citizen lobbyist for reproductive justice. We were split up by our districts and had pre-arranged meetings with our state senators and representatives. My senator was unavailable, but my representative, Janelle Bynum, was able to meet with us.
In preparation for Lobby Day, we had been told to think of why this bill is personally important to us. We would likely have five or six other individuals with us in the meeting so we would not have long to express to our representatives why we wanted their support. My district is fairly large, so I figured I would not have to speak much, if at all. That morning, I found my legislative captain, the person who had been trained for this event and was familiar with lobbying, and she asked me if I was ready to walk to the Capitol Building as our meeting time was coming up. I asked if we should wait for the rest of the group members. She said, “I think you’re the only one!” To my surprise, I was the only constituent from my district, and thus had the entire fifteen minutes to speak to Janelle Bynum, a woman I really admire and voted for.
I expressed to her why, as a young LGBTQ woman who works multiple jobs but still cannot afford all of the reproductive and health care services she would like, this bill is incredibly important to me. It wasn’t a particularly heart-wrenching narrative, but she listened to me and share her own support and concerns about the bill. I left her office feeling confident that she would support the bill, and excited that I was able to participate in my local government for something I cared about.