Lauren Garfunkel, NCJW National Board Director
In November of 2015, the New York section planned a lobby visit with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries to speak with him about the EACH Act (Equitable Access to Care and Health Act). This piece of legislation targeted the Hyde Amendment, a reproductive rights issue that our section has prioritized and is an issue that I have always felt strongly about. When asked if I wanted to participate in the visit, I jumped at the opportunity to be able to voice my own opinion to my Congressman and try to get him to sign on to the EACH Act.
During the visit with Congressman Jeffries, I was tasked with being the one to ask if he would sign on to the bill. When I did, he turned to his aide and immediately asked to schedule a meeting with the sponsors of the bill. We took this as a good sign but he had not given an answer as to whether or not he would sign or not yet and in fact, during the meeting he never did.
It was one month later when the Congressman announced he would sign on to the bill. It was such a triumphant and accomplished feeling. It showed me that as a constituent, I have a right and a duty to let my representatives hear my voice and that my voice matters just as much as anyone else. I will always remember this event because I was pregnant at the time, and the idea that I was protecting women’s reproductive rights while bringing life into the world was truly impactful for me. The entire experience shed light on to how much my voice matters and that anyone can make a difference if they speak out.