Opportunities to advocate for women’s health

Dr. Tony OgburnTony Ogburn, MD, District VIII legislative chair

I hope everyone is having a great summer. Mixed in with all your summer activities, I encourage you to meet with legislators at the state and federal levels. The US House and Senate are in recess for most of August, and most members of Congress will be home for much of this time. Many of us have experience with brief meetings with legislators in Washington, DC, thanks to the Congressional Leadership Conference, The President’s Conference (CLC), and other opportunities. Local meetings are often much more relaxed, meaningful experiences. They’re a great time to build relationships and get to know local staff members. Local meetings are also more likely to include representatives or senators, not just members of their staff.

Most state legislatures are not in session right now, but members continue to meet with constituents and attend interim committee meetings. State medical societies will often host legislative events in the summer or early fall. These events provide great opportunities to speak with legislators and talk about women’s health issues. The ACOG Government Affairs staff will be happy to assist you in preparing for local meetings.

As you know, there are many issues in women’s health that need our attention. Two timely areas are implementation of health care reform and legislative interference with the doctor-patient relationship. As health care reform is implemented at the state level, there will be variation among the states (depending on their participation in Medicaid expansion) with the design of their exchanges and more. Legislators and other agencies will need our assistance at the state level to ensure women’s health services are optimized under the new programs. 

Legislative interference seems to be increasing in many states. The issue touches many aspects of the care we provide. Many bills focus on reproductive rights, including abortion, but they also include a wide variety of other issues, such as mammography and dense breasts, elective deliveries, and informed consent. Often these bills are based on personal beliefs, emotion, and politics—not science. Be diligent in identifying these bills, and work with your legislators to defeat them.

Please consider attending the 2014 CLC next year on March 2–4 and the District VIII legislative meeting on the morning of March 2. All District VIII Fellows and Junior Fellows are welcome! The current ACOG president leads the development of the CLC program each year, and Immediate Past ACOG President James T. Breeden, MD, past District VIII chair, did a fabulous job putting together a provocative lineup of speakers and topics in 2013. Next year’s CLC, with direction from ACOG President Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, and the growing influence of ACOG, promises to be even better. Contact your section officers for more information.

Finally, I would encourage you to donate to Ob-Gyn PAC, ACOG’s federal political action committee. (You will not be favored or disadvantaged by reason of the amount of your contribution or a decision not to contribute. Contributions from foreign nationals are not permitted.) ACOG continues to have great success with legislative issues, and the support of our members is crucial for this success to continue.

It’s an honor and a pleasure to be your District VIII legislative chair. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at jogburn@salud.unm.edu if I can be of assistance.



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