Planned Parenthood

Southern Finger Lakes

Writing a Letter to your Representative

It is estimated that only 10 percent of all Americans will write to their member of Congress or state legislator in their lifetime. But your representative knows that if you feel strongly enough to write about an issue, there are many others who feel as you do. Take the time to write - you're raising your voice for many of us!

Here are tips to make your letter effective:

  1. FAX letters to Washington, DC, or write to your rep's district office. In Washington security measures have slowed mail to a crawl, and faxes will be much more timely.
  2. Keep it brief, but try to make it memorable: State your case concisely, and don't go over one page. Whenever you can, try to help your representative understand your position by giving her or him the personal side of the issue. Tell your story.
  3. Keep to one topic per letter: If you write about the abortion issue, do not include a paragraph about animal rights, gun control, etc. Write another letter.
  4. Refer to a specific legislative bill by number, if possible: It is much easier for your letter to be counted if the bill number is clear. Put the bill name, number and chief sponsor right into your first sentence if possible.
  5. Begin with a clear statement of purpose: "I am writing to urge your support for / opposition to..."
  6. When possible, use your own words and experience to state your case: letters are more effective when they are original. But if you don't have time to start from scratch, go ahead and copy a sample letter.
  7. Write even if you are not confident of your writing skills: Send a news clipping with a comment, cut out a letter to the editor and note your agreement with it, or add a few personal lines to a sample letter from Planned Parenthood.
  8. Write to pro-choice representatives too! Legislators need to be able to tell the opposition that they have been inundated with calls and letters supporting their position. And don?t forget to thank legislators for pro-choice votes!
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Writing a Letter to your Representative