Today I'm working on getting ready for an event that's being held at the Capitol building in Pierre, SD tomorrow. I'm busy making cookies, running errands, and finishing up last minute details so I can be ready to visit with legislators about birth and baby related topics while serving them lunch with several other families from around the state that feel the same way I do.
As I'm getting ready, I am thinking how grateful I am to live in a country where we have this kind of opportunity. I mean, what would it be like to live in a country where people just make rules and laws without any regard or opportunity for the people to voice their opinions? Yes, I am disappointed with some of the laws that there are in this state, and how money and politics play a bigger role than what would actually be good for women and families. But, how much worse would it be if we weren't even able to tell law makers what we think and educate them on issues that they have never before even thought about?
With the maternity care system in the sorry state it is in America, only by educating law makers on real evidence-based practices will we be able to make changes for the better. Not only the maternity care system, but general American culture has a very negative effect on mamas, babies, and their overall health. For instance, how do many people see breastfeeding? I have never been given any "guff" for breastfeeding my kids, but many, many people have in this country. Women get asked to leave all the time if they are feeding their baby in public. Last month, in fact, there was a nationwide "nurse-in" at Target stores to protest a Target employee asking a nursing mother to leave where she was in a Houston, TX area Target store...simply because she was giving her baby exactly what he needed. He was hungry, and she was choosing to feed him in the way we were designed to feed our babies. We need to take a positive stand, and hopefully, conversation-by-conversation, person-by-person, one-by-one, we can change this kind of thinking here.
It's not only maternity care and breastfeeding culture and laws that need to be addressed, though. On a national level, there is an uproar right now about PIPA (Protect IP Act) in the Senate and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) in the House. If you don't know about these two bills, Google them. Seriously. I was surprised what I found when researching a little more about what they are and what they will do if passed.
The thing is, is that we have the *right* to tell our elected officials what we think of issues all across the board. Not only that, but as informed citizens, it is our *responsibility* to make our voices heard! It is part of what makes America so great. We don't have one person dictating their whimsical wishes onto the rest of us. We actually have a say in what happens - that's the whole point of our Republic! We elect representatives that we think will represent us accurately. If they don't, then we have the opportunity every election to fire them.
Whether or not legislators vote in the way you want them to, you can and *should* make your voices heard. You can call them. You can send them a hand-written note. You can attend a town-hall meeting. You can go to Pierre or Washington DC or your state's Capital and talk to them one-on-one. You can send them an email. You can send them a typed letter. Whatever way it's done, I am SO grateful that we can make our voices heard.
Tomorrow I'm going to make mine heard.