The news of the Supreme Court's intention to overturn Roe v Wade emerged recently. In response, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated that he would push a vote on protecting reproductive rights in the senate. To that end - we have created a letter template for you to send to your senators (contact information at the link at the bottom) which you may personalize as you wish, highlighting the medical, public health, and social needs to protect reproductive health. Please let us know if you used this template!
The Honorable [SENATOR OR REPRESENTATIVE’S FIRST NAME, LAST NAME]
Dear Senator [LAST NAME]
I am a [PROFESSION/ROLE/TITLE] at [INSTITUTION NAME], writing to urge you to support the bills coming through the United States Senate protecting reproductive rights.
From a public health and medical perspective, it is extremely important that we protect reproductive rights from a federal perspective. As many are aware, if the Supreme Court does strike down Roe vs. Wade, several states around the nation will trigger full abortion bans. These bans leave little nuance or concern for maternal or child health, social situations, economic factors, or many of the other reasons that pregnant people seek care.
The United States ranks low (57th globally) amid other developed countries when it comes to maternal mortality (the number of pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this number is tripled when considering maternal mortality in minority communities. As a nation, we rank 47 when it comes to infant mortality (the number of deaths within the first year of life). Restricting access to healthcare for pregnant women will also inevitably worsen this outcome and lead to poorer life expectancy of pregnant women and their children.
The driving ethics of medicine include beneficence, autonomy, and justice. There are many reasons one may choose to have an abortion. Some are after violent encounters with intimate partners, rape, or incest. Medical reasons such as chromosomal abnormalities incompatible with life, pregnancy related complications (such as cardiomyopathies), teratogenic effects of life saving medications (such as many anti-epileptics), or placental aberrations leading to life threatening bleeding conditions. These are just a few examples of scenarios which may trigger the decision to have an abortion. Others may choose to have an abortion due to social or familial pressure or economic situations. Regardless of the reason, we cannot allow the country to return to unsafe "underground" medical practices which led to the deaths of tens of thousands of women annually. Illegalizing abortion will not stop abortion. If anything, it will simply lead to even more morbidity and mortality in a country that - even by the numbers - has consistently failed women. Women deserve to have safe access to reproductive health care, whether it be contraception, prenatal care, or abortion. Limiting and restricting this access goes against the basics of medical ethics, not to mention women's liberties and freedoms - rights which this country was founded upon and is tasked to protect.
By criminalizing a basic medical procedure, we are simply putting women who already have limited access to healthcare or economic constraints at risk. Those with resources will be able to travel and receive the medical care they need (as seen in the Turnaway Study 2008-2010 Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health) from states which support their autonomies. This also puts those who face pregnancy loss from medical conditions at risk. Criminalizing abortion puts those who experience spontaneous abortions (colloquially known as miscarriages) at risk for facing the justice system after already experiencing a personal loss. Ectopic pregnancies, placental aberrations, or fetal demise should not lead to the criminalization of women.
Several healthcare organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American College of Physicians (ACP) support access to safe abortions and reproductive care. It is essential at this time we allow these decisions, life changing as they are, to be made between the patient and their healthcare provider. We must allow the best available medical science to drive our healthcare policy.
***If applicable, insert personal story or experience here***
If you or your staff would like additional information, please feel free to contact me directly. I am happy to talk further and look forward to hearing from you soon.
[NAME, TITLE, INSTITUTION]
General tips for writing your Congressperson (source: American Psychological Association):
Direct: state your subject clearly in the e-mail subject line and/or letter introduction
Factual: personalize the issue and support your stance with facts
Helpful: offer to provide additional information and provide your contact information
Informative: identify yourself, your views, and the bill number(s) of relevant legislation
Constructive: remain positive and offer recommendations without personal attacks or blame
Appreciative: thank the policymaker for their attention
Inquiring: ask for the policymaker’s viewpoint on the legislation
Specific: provide specific facts, data, examples, and write in the first-person
Concise: do not exceed one page or 500 words
More tips, sample e-mails, sample letters, and links to your state’s Congresspersons’ contact information can be found at this page created by the American Psychological Association.