The book Patricia Oliver is showing lawmakers this week would, she said, fit in well in a first-grade classroom. It has pretty illustrations, bright colors and large text.

But the subject is much darker and sadder than at first glance— the title is “Joaquin’s First School Shooting.” It has holes piercing through the book, so when you flip the pages there are four that the reader sees, to represent the number of times she said Joaquin Oliver, her son, was shot. Joaquin was one of the 17 people who died in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018.

“It takes courage to be moving forward in every single issue, and that’s something that we have to appreciate about those that are willing to do it for others,” Oliver told the Globe, a necklace with Joaquin’s name dangling around her neck. She had appointments to meet with lawmakers to show them the book and had already met with about 20. “Joaquin was supposed to be here, and if he was lucky enough to have made it that day, he would be the first in line in this fight.”

On Thursday, Oliver stood outside the House of Representatives, with a collection of lawmakers, and people who had personally experienced the suffering that can be caused by government, whether through action or inaction.

Oliver was just one of several women hosted on Capitol Hill by Minority Whip Katherine Clark this week, to talk about the issues that have intersected suddenly with their lives and families. Though Democrats control the Senate and White House, they lack a meaningful majority in the Senate that prevents them from passing major legislation like, for example, sweeping gun reform. And for now the House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans, who largely oppose the types of reforms Oliver and the other women were calling for.

“This is not an issue that we cannot act on,” Clark said in an exclusive interview with the Globe in the Revere Democrat’s office, as she sat around a glass table with several of the women there to advocate for the day, using mass shootings as an example. “There are solutions and investments for all of this.”

In Clark’s office before the press conference, the women met for the first time. Oliver had come up from Florida for several days. Karen George had driven about four hours from Maryland to talk about the importance of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Cynthia Davis lives in DC and was there to talk about the importance of providing more child care funding.

Despite how different their experiences are, they immediately found commonalities in their respective causes.

Also among them was Amanda Zurawski, a Texas resident who needed an abortion last year because of a nonviable pregnancy, but was unable to get one. She said she faced life-threatening complications before her medical team could step in due to the state’s abortion restrictions. In a lawsuit filed in a state court, she and other plaintiffs alleged that the state’s laws regulating abortion are tying doctor’s hands and preventing them from providing care, leaving pregnant women in a “health care crisis.”

“This doesn’t get easier to tell,” Zurawski said as she teared up. “Especially since it was about this time last year.”

She said she’s still dealing with the fallout, emotionally and physically. She and her husband are still trying to have a baby, but it’s proven to be even harder. “It was hard the first time, and it’s even more difficult now for me to get pregnant.”

Recently she came to Capitol Hill and testified in a Senate hearing, where she called out her state’s Senators — Ted Cruz and John Cornyn — and said she “nearly died on their watch” as a result of abortion restrictions they support. They were not present in the room when she made the comments addressing them. She told the Globe she had not heard from either of them since. Cruz’s office did not respond to a request for comment; a spokesperson from Cornyn’s office said they would “let you know if I have anything to add on this” when asked if he’d responded to Zurawski’s remarks, or reached out to her since the hearing.

After the press conference, the women mingled. They hugged Democratic lawmakers. They took pictures together. Oliver was going on to more appointments with lawmakers. Zurawski walked away with a pink suitcase in tow. If action is going to happen by elected officials, it wouldn’t be today.


Original story HERE