“This was the first time I was able to participate in the AAFP Congress of Delegates (COD) as a student member, and it was incredibly valuable. The experience gave me insight into what my future can look like as a physician-advocate. The highlights for me included listening to physicians share patient stories and hearing my family medicine role models testify to support resolutions calling for better treatment of asylum seekers and full-spectrum reproductive care for incarcerated people.”
– Melissa Hill, AAFP Student Member, Fourth-year Medical Student, and North Carolina Cluster Member.
Mobilizing clinicians and students from across the nation to advocate for comprehensive reproductive health care and justice within one of the largest professional organizations in medicine- the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) – looked different this year, but was nonetheless inspiring. There was a range of issues Network members passionately defended on behalf of their patients and communities. The five resolutions our RHAP organizing efforts focused on included: Improve Quality of Reproductive Healthcare for Incarcerated People, End Race-Based Medicine, Support the Provision of Gender-Affirming Health Care for Transgender Youth, End Police Brutality and Reinvest in Public Health, and Close the US Detention Centers, Provide Humane Care to Migrants.
Transitioning from in person-meetings to virtual proceedings was not without obstacles, but the virtual platform provided an accessible space for members to engage. Over 300 written testimonies were submitted in support of our prioritized resolutions. Despite technical difficulties and Congress of Delegates procedures limiting members’ input, over 20 Network members from 13 states gave oral testimony. Our amazing advocates squeezed late-night testimonies in between shifts, cultivated colleague engagement, and demonstrated the power of organizing in community – especially during these socially distant times.
Our advocacy within the AAFP is grounded in RHAP’s organizational values and mission to make reproductive health care accessible to all. In order to make this vision a reality, our administrative advocacy efforts must encompass intersecting issues that impact access to equitable health care. As a Senior Organizer on the Network Team, I am excited to see the AAFP continue to develop as a platform for our Network members to amplify issues important to them and their patients. There is still a lot of work to be done, but our community of primary care clinicians continues to grow and push the AAFP to go beyond the buzzwords of “health equity” and live up to its vision of optimal health care for all.
This article was written by Hailey Broughton-Jones, Senior Organizer on the Reproductive Health Access Network.