For the month of August, our March for Life Give Life challenge is to “lobby” for life with your Congressman!
There are many pro-life concerns that you can share with your Representative. For example, as you are likely aware, the Center for Medical Progress has released a series of undercover videos that have exposed Planned Parenthood’s egregious organ harvesting practices.
Visiting face to face with your Representative or their staff is the most effective way to influence them to support a culture of life. Individuals and groups can arrange personal meetings with Senators and Congressmen in their local offices at various times throughout the year. Furthermore, Students for Life has put together a list of congressional “townhalls” that you can check by clicking HERE.
To find out when your Senator or Congressman will be in their local office, we recommend calling their local office, checking their website, or signing up for their mailing list. Do not be discouraged if you meet with the legislator’s staff; staff members are often more involved in the details of particular issues than the legislators themselves, and they will inform the legislator of your views.
Here are some simple rules to follow:
- Make an appointment; this is common sense and courteous. Some Members do offer “walk-in” meeting times in their local offices, but an appointment request is still highly recommended. Appointment requests can be mailed in, although faxing a request will often receive a more speedy response. Members’ contact information, phone and fax numbers can be found on their websites.
- Plan to discuss no more than two issues. Meetings are generally scheduled to last from 15- to 45-minutes. Bring along any supporting handouts, charts or graphics, and consider taking extra copies for staff members. Many of our allies in the movement will have talking points on the pro-life issues of the day.
- Find out where your legislator stands on the life issue and how he/she has voted in the past. Many pro-life groups, such as Americans United for Life, Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council and National Right to Life have excellent pro-life scorecards.
- Arrive about 10 minutes before the appointment time if you can. Dress neatly and conservatively, and be courteous and respectful, but try to relax as well.
- Introduce yourself to the legislator or their staff members: tell them who you are and where you live. Warm them up – begin by complimenting something the legislator has done recently; their vote on an issue, a bill they sponsored, etc. After a minute or two of such “small talk,” state your standpoint on the issue(s) you came to discuss. No matter how passionately you feel about the issue, do not “rant-and-rave.” Nothing diminishes your credibility more than a disrespectful or agitated demeanor. Tip: They know you pay their salary.
- Be ready to answer questions and discuss your points in detail.
- If the legislator disagrees with you, stand up for yourself, debate the issues, but do not become overly argumentative. Keep trying to emphasize the positives of your standpoint. Always try to end the conversation on a positive note.
After the Meeting always send a follow up letter or fax thanking your legislator or staff members.
INSIDER’S TIP: For those of you who attended last year’s Capitol Hill 101 at the March for Life Conference and Expo, you heard some great advice first hand from elected officials who are also pro-life champions. One piece of insider advice was from Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) who advised those gathered that when you request a meeting with a Member of Congress also include an ask for a photo with the elected official. Great advice as few politicians can resist a phot op!
After your meeting please share with us on social media or via e-mail your visit and your thoughts – and if you followed Rep. Meadows advice – include a photograph!