A Proactive Vision

The Center gathered nearly 200 state legislators and advocates in Washington, D.C., to discuss strategies for advancing women’s reproductive health.

What happens when you convene some of the nation’s brightest leaders in state reproductive health, rights, and justice in Washington, D.C.?

The crowd erupts in lively cheers to the sound of U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, the first Indian-American Congresswoman, declaring:

I'm not a woman on Monday, an immigrant on Tuesday, a worker on Wednesday, and a mom on Thursday. I'm all those things, all of the time.

A former Washington state legislator, Jayapal was perfectly positioned to kick off the Summit and reflect on the pivotal differences between pushing forward a proactive agenda in a friendly state legislature as opposed to today’s more hostile U.S. Congress.

Jayapal wasn’t the only inspiring speaker in attendance. Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire delivered the Summit’s keynote speech in which she emphasized the need for continued collaboration between state leaders and across the reproductive rights movement:  

You are all on the frontlines of protecting women’s access to reproductive care. Now more than ever, it is critical that we continue working together at every level of government to ensure that women can get the care they need.

She also expressed her commitment to standing strong against an anti-choice administration:

In just a few short months, the Trump administration has made clear that it is laser-focused on rolling back women’s rights and access to care. I’m going to continue fighting against any effort to roll back the progress we have made.

And the importance of actively pursuing a proactive agenda to protect women’s constitutional rights and access to crucial health services: 

I encourage you all to continue to stand against efforts that would roll back women’s reproductive care, and while you are doing this continue to push proactive and forward-thinking legislation that outlines a stronger vision for reproductive health and rights.

Building Our Power

The focus of the Summit centered on exploring the creative and innovative policies and strategies being enacted on the ground in states to protect reproductive freedom. The day was jam-packed with dynamic panel discussions and breakout sessions that explored a variety of important topics including using:

  • Innovative strategies to pass proactive state policies to promote access to abortion, contraception, and improved maternal health;
  • Polling and opinion research to create impactful messaging and policy recommendations;
  • Data to advance proactive reproductive health, rights, and justice policies;
  • Intentional coalition building and training to impact reproductive justice successes

Another overarching theme of the Summit was the importance of aligning with like-minded progressive groups when advocating for reproductive rights issues. Learning from and supporting each other is a powerful tool that was demonstrated at the Summit when a group of reproductive justice leaders organized an impromptu lunchtime panel when they realized there was a need for a more in-depth understanding of their work. Watching the attendees jump in and quickly mobilize to fill in this gap of knowledge was an inspiring example of how together we can help push the country forward.

Executive Director of SisterSong Monica Simpson closed out the Summit with a moving speech that left the entire room invigorated for the work ahead:

I want us to leave here realizing that we have the power that we need, we have everything that we need, inside of us right now to do all the work that we want to do, and need to do, for our communities to move us closer and closer and closer to freedom, justice, and liberation.

Much like the welcome reception, which erupted in passionate cheering, so did Simpson’s closing remarks:

We must fight for freedom; we must fight for justice. It will take all of us to get to the other side. This is not the time for us to think about when the revolution is coming; we are the revolution, you are the revolution…I believe I am the revolution. Do you believe you are the revolution?

And the room unanimously cheered, “I am the revolution!”

“Are you all ready to be freedom fighters?” she asked.

“YES!”

Take a peek at the incredible day by visiting our online gallery of event photos.