Infertility, Infertility Advocacy

Our day on Capitol Hill

April 26, 2012

Yesterday, Erick and I went to Washington, D.C. for Advocacy Day hosted by RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association.  It was a really great experience and I was so proud and happy to share it with my husband.  Our purpose in being there was to meet with our Senators and Representatives regarding infertility and the IVF and adoption tax credits.  We had a great day and some good meetings.  I just can’t tell you how powerful it was to walk around Capitol Hill fighting for yourself in a very effective manner.  And,

You have a voice!

If you have never done anything like this, I can’t stress to you enough how important it is.  You do have a voice, no matter how much apathetic people will tell you that you don’t.  Congressional representatives will listen to you. Don’t forget that you are paying their check and keeping them in office.  And, when they start to get enough visits, phone calls and letters — they will take notice of the issue!  Yesterday, the president of RESOLVE went to a meeting where a legislative aide told her that even if the senator completely supports a bill, they will not co-sponsor unless they hear from a constituent!  What if nobody spoke up?!?  You do have a voice!   [See my post: Don’t ignore the opportunity to share your infertility story.]

Also, it just feels good to actually do something about issues that you care about.  And, for me, this is a way to take back some of the power that infertility has stolen from me.

Goals for being there

  1. To encourage Congress to support and co-sponsor The Family Act.  The Family Act ( S 965/HR 3522) was introduced in Congress in May of 2011 and would offer a tax credit on IVF, similar to the adoption tax credit.
  2. To ask Congress to make the adoption tax credit permanent, as it has to be renewed every year and is always in danger of disappearing.

Meeting other infertility bloggers

The night before, RESOLVE hosted a wonderful reception, where we got to meet up and just get to know one another.  We met some fabulous people — more of the RESOLVE staff, RESOLVE Board members, other bloggers and other supporters.   I finally got to meet the fabulous Keiko Zoll of The Infertility Voice.  She is just as wonderful in person as she is online.  I only regret that I didn’t get to talk to her more than I did. I also met Michelle of IF Crossroads and it was great to get to know her a little bit and her sweet mom who came with her.

Our day on the hill

We kicked the day off with breakfast and heard from Barbara Collura, Senator Blanche Lincoln, Lee Rubin Collins and Risa Levine.  Hearing from all of these ladies was very empowering and got us fired up.

“When people get together to act, change happens.” – Risa Levine

“Never underestimate the difference you can make on Capitol Hill.” – Senator Blanche Lincoln

We had a large group of Virginians, about 10, to meet with representatives from the Virginia Senate offices.

As we walked down the hall, we passed Senator John McCain’s office.  I thought that was pretty cool.  But, even cooler was that later that day, he walked down the hall right past me!

Our first meeting was with Senator Mark Warner’s legislative assistant.  She was very nice, very professional and seemed very knowledgeable.  We had a good meeting, but she told us that Senator Warner isn’t likely to co-sponsor the bill, even if he supports it.  We’ll follow up with her later and see how it goes.

For our second meeting, we met with Senator Webb’s legislative assistant.  She was really nice, seemed sympathetic, took notes and asked questions.  She also told us that Senator Webb doesn’t typically co-sponsor legislation, even if he supports it.  The big issue here is the cost involved. Hopefully, we can convince them that this is worthy enough of a cause and is a drop in the bucket of the federal budget.

In front of the Capitol

I was so proud of Erick for being there and representing all of the men going through this struggle as well.

As we left the Senate offices, we walked in front of the Capitol and I spotted Senator Warner.  I followed him and asked him for a minute of his time.  We didn’t have a meeting with him earlier, so no problem.  Impromptu meeting in front of the Capitol where I got to tell him that we just met with his aide, why I was there and why this was important to me.  He was very honest and said that until we could the budget under control, it didn’t matter how worthy the cause was.  But, he also said that he would sit down with his aide and take a look at the bill. So, it was maybe a very minor success?  At least, hopefully, he’ll remember us when he talks to his aide.

Our final meeting was with Bob Goodlatte’s legislative assistant.  We had a great meeting with her and explained to her that we met with Representative Goodlatte last year in Roanoke and that he was very supportive at that time.  She plans to speak with him and then I will follow up.

This is me with Lee Rubin Collins, one of the RESOLVE board members.

This is in Senator Webb’s waiting area.

One of our friends works for Senator Webb and was so kind to offer us a private tour of the Capitol.  So, we got to take the private “train” thing underground from the Senate to the Capitol building.  Pretty darn cool!  The House of Representatives do not have this perk.

Erick and I in the Capitol rotunda.

The grand finale of our Capitol tour was going to the gallery of the Senate chamber to watch an actual vote taking place.  We saw John McCain again and also saw John Kerry.  I was a little awestruck. It felt amazing to watch our government at work and we felt privileged to be there. Think of all the things that have been debated in that room.  We were stripped of all electronics before going in and I, of course, was itching for my camera.

All in all, it was an amazing day and I was happy to have taken part.

What’s next?

This is far from over!  We need your support. Every time they hear from another constituent that cares about infertility and these bills, they will take that much more notice.  Contact your senators and your representative:

  1. Make an appointment (for your local office if possible)
  2. Call!
  3. Send a letter!
Here is a link to more information on The Family Act and how to get in touch with your state representatives.

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  • Wow Whitney you are really making history. Very proud of you.

    • Whitney

      Thanks, Heather. I don’t know about history, but it helps to be able to actually do something. 🙂

  • Traci

    Go, Whitney!

  • It was very nice to meet you Whitney! Also, the photos are incredible!

    Maybe one of these days when I’m out in Roanoke we can hook up for lunch 🙂

    • Whitney

      Yes, thanks Michelle! Please let me know when you’ll be in.