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Contact Your Representative

Host a Write-In Campaign

A letter-writing campaign can be a great way to urge your Representative to support a major legislative issue or champion a cause crucial to health and human rights. Gather your friends, faculty, classmates, and local community members to write letters to your Representative. Bring sample letters for everyone to replicate or use as a draft. Call the office of your elected official to find out the e-mail address of the staff member who works on foreign policy or human rights issues. Then, address the letter to your Representative and fax or e-mail the letter to the appropriate staff contact. Finally, follow up on the letter writing campaign with a phone call to your Representative’s office.

Petitions and postcard campaigns can demonstrate to your Representative that there is substantial agreement in your PHR chapter, campus, or larger community on this important legislation. To identify your Representative, please visit http://www.house.gov/representatives/ [2] [1].

Sample Letter 1

[Insert Your
Return Address
Here]

 

[Date]

 

The Honorable [Firstname Lastname]
[Room #] [Building Name] House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Representative [Lastname]:

 

As your constituent, I write to urge you to support H.R. 2643, the Medical Neutrality Protection Act of 2011. This bipartisan bill aims to strengthen existing international legal protections against violations of medical neutrality for health care workers and the sick and injured during times of war and civil unrest.

Doctors have an ethical duty to prevent illness and care for the sick and wounded without regard to politics, race, or religion. During times of conflict, governments too often interfere with this duty by attacking medical professionals who treat individuals in need of medical attention, blocking access to medical facilities, and arbitrarily arresting and detaining health care workers and individuals seeking care. Regrettably, these violations of medical neutrality are not new: such violations have been documented in countless conflicts around the world. This bipartisan bill would elevate these issues as a policy priority for the U.S. government so that countries that violate norms of medical neutrality face repercussions.

Under H.R. 2643, the U.S. would be authorized to withhold military assistance from governments that violate medical neutrality  and government officials from the violating countries will not be eligible for visas to travel to the United States.

I strongly encourage you to use your leadership to ensure that physicians, nurses, and other medical workers are able to provide nondiscriminatory treatment for the sick and wounded, without punishment, in accordance with their ethical obligations. Please support the Medical Neutrality Protection Act of 2011. Thank you for your consideration.

 

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

Host a Call-In Campaign

Organizing a Call-In Day can be a very effective way to advocate policymakers and to engage your peers. Congressional staffers keep track of who calls in to their offices every day, and what issues constituents are concerned about. Make sure your issue rises to the top by getting 20, 50, or 100 or more of your classmates to call your Representative’s office in one day.

Organizing a Call-In Day is easy.  First, create materials about your issue. You’ll need a call-in script for people to follow, so they have the facts right there in front of them. This script should be short, just a few sentences–calls to offices usually last less than 2 minutes, so the script should be concise and powerful. You may also want to prepare a one page fact sheet. A fact sheet will teach potential callers more about your issue, why they should care, and what impact their action can have on health and human rights. Finally, you need the phone number to the office–DOUBLE CHECK to make sure it works before you share it with others!

Once you have the phone number, script, and facts, it’s time to plan an outreach strategy. Got an active email list? Send out an e-alert. For a more immediate impact, set up a table in a busy area of campus, and ask everyone to pull out their cell phones and make a call. Have PHR chapter members make the same ask in every class they are in on the Call-In Day. Work with other groups, too: reach out to the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) or other campus groups and see if they want to join the Call-In Day. Blog about it. Be creative—there are many ways to publicize a call-in day to ensure maximum exposure and impact.

Follow-up is important too. Within a few days of the Call-In Day, make official contact with your Representative’s office. See if they want or need more information. You will be on their radar screen—offer yourself as a resource and help make sure your issue remains at the top of their list!

To identify your Representative, please visit http://www.house.gov/representatives/ [2] [1]. 

Sample Call-In Script

Call the congressional switchboard and ask to be connected to your Representative: (202) 224-3121.

 

My name is ________ and I am a constituent living in Representative ________’s district. [Note: You may be asked to provide your zip code or address to verify that you are a constituent.]

I want to urge Representative ________ to support H.R. 2643, the Medical Neutrality Protection Act of 2011, which will help strengthen existing protections for medical workers and their patients during times of war and civil unrest.

Representative ________ must use his/her leadership to ensure that physicians, nurses, and other medical workers are able to provide nondiscriminatory treatment for the sick and wounded, without punishment, in accordance with their ethical obligations.

Thank you for taking the time to share my concerns with Representative ________.

Meet with Your Representative

Schedule a meeting with your Representative by calling their Washington, D.C. or District Office and speaking with their Scheduler. To contact your Representative at his or her Washington, D.C. office, call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Member’s office.

Allow sufficient lead time when calling for an appointment. The more advanced notice the office has, the more likely that your Representative will attend the meeting. Even if the Member cannot attend, it can still be very beneficial to meet with a staff member who is knowledgeable about human rights issues and who may be able to “sell” H.R. 2643 to his or her boss.

To maximize the impact of your meeting, try to schedule your visit to coincide with a milestone: a report that has just been released, recent media coverage of attacks on health care in a particular country, a related bill that is being deliberated, etc. Refer to the Physicians for Human Rights website (www.physiciansforhumanrights.org [3]) to identify recent reports or media coverage on medical neutrality that could tie in to the reason for your visit.

Don’t bring a large group—three or four people should suffice.  Be sure that your group includes people from the legislator’s district, are from constituencies that the member cares about (religious or civil groups, for example), and are articulate and confident.

Practice what you will say beforehand, and keep your presentations brief and to-the-point. It may be useful to prepare an agenda beforehand to share and discuss with your group prior to meeting with the Representative or his or her staff.