Genetic counselors are natural advocates. We have empathy for our patients and their access to quality care, and we are excellent communicators with a wide variety of stakeholders. So it was no surprise when many of you leapt to the call to action to participate in NSGC’s first ever Virtual Call on Congress this week, during which we rallied in Zoom Rooms across geographies and IP addresses to advocate for the Access to Genetic Counselor Services Act. It was an energizing week that began with a kickoff webinar featuring our House bill sponsor Brian Higgins, patient advocate Heather Ferguson, and plenty of mock meeting practice. Our Virtual Call on Congress, resulted in meetings with 80 Congressional offices over the course of the week. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who participated!
While our Virtual Call on Congress represented a concentrated time period for meetings with genetic counselors and their members of Congress, the opportunities for you to help recruit additional co-sponsors of our House and Senate bills don’t end there. The Advocacy Coordinating Committee has activated their outreach to our Grassroots Advocacy Network, and in their first month of outreach has contacted over 300 genetic counselors across the United States! Since being contacted, these members of the Grassroots Advocacy Network have organized letter writing campaigns and meetings which have already resulted in new cosponsors signing on. The Grassroots Advocacy Network is an excellent example of genetic counselors leading each other in advocacy – what may seem intimidating or an insurmountable obstacle on our own is easily tackled with strength in numbers and encouragement from colleagues. Want to join in? Sign up HERE.
In leading each other in advocacy, we also rely on our members’ diverse experiences and expertise to develop strategies and resources to empower genetic counselors to advocate for patient access to services. With legislation passed or pending in a number of states that would ban abortion as a reproductive option based on genetic abnormalities, the ability of genetic counselors to practice in these states in accordance with our scope of practice and code of ethics is in jeopardy. The NSGC Reproductive Access, Freedom and Justice Resources Task Force is charged with developing recommendations and resources to support our members in advocating at the state and local level. To ensure that the task force is inclusive and representative of diverse voices within the membership, we are doing an open call for task force members, which will be selected by representatives from the Public Policy Committee, Prenatal SIG and the Board. You can apply to be on the new Reproductive Access, Freedom and Justice Resources Task Force HERE.
I am deeply appreciative of our genetic counseling community and our spirit of advocating for our profession and the patients and families that we serve.
In leadership and advocacy,