Four Creighton students and I participated in a phone bank held at the Creighton Center for Service and Justice calling registered voters in Nebraska to urge their Senators to vote “yes” on LB 599 – a bill to restore prenatal care for low-income children.
Nebraska previously insured prenatal care for all low-income children for decades, but that policy changed in 2010 when almost 1,600 low-income women lost access to prenatal care coverage.
Last week, the Nebraska Legislature voted 31-15 to pass the bill to restore prenatal care, but Governor Heineman vetoed the bill. The Legislature will vote this Wednesday whether or not to override his veto.
Nebraska Appleseed organized the efforts to contact constituents and encourage them to leave messages in support of LB 599 for their Senators. While these Creighton students had contacted elected officials before, this was their first experience of participating in a phone bank. These quotations capture some of their reflections on the experience:
“I was so surprised by how supportive people actually were. One woman told me, ‘Thank you so much for volunteering to do this! Yes, I’m in full support. I’m going to put my kid to bed now, but can I get the number of my Senator and call later?’
“I never did advocacy until college, but this gives me a lot of hope. I should do this in my free time!”
“I was surprised by how uneducated people were about the bill, but then again, I may not have known about it if I wasn’t in the CCSJ office. I also wonder what important legislation I’m unaware of in my home state.”
“I was surprised by how some people said they were supportive but that they did not want to call their Senator. Through my work with the Ignatian Advocacy Team I realize how it is not a scary thing to contact one’s elected officials, but I think people are hesitant to make that phone call and don’t realize how big of a difference they can make.”
“I think we were hesitant to do this because it seemed a little pushy, but this doesn’t have to be a negative thing. We shouldn’t be uncomfortable with it; we’re just trying to get people informed. Even if they didn’t want to be transferred to their Senator’s office, at least now they know.”