Guidelines for writing to legislators

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Effective letter-writing campaigns are essential to successful Pro-Life legislative efforts.  The following guidelines will help you conduct a more effective campaign.*

 

  • Monitor Your Representative.  Roll calls on important Pro-Life issues are published in TRTL Life News, and NRL News and in periodic scorecards issued by Texas Right To Life and National Right to Life Committee.  Monitor your congressman and senators’ votes (including votes in committee).  When they vote Pro-Life, write to thank them.  If your legislator votes pro-abortion, write letters criticizing specific votes.  The Pro-Life mail that a legislator receives should always outnumber the pro-abortion mail.
  • Although many bills and amendments addressing Pro-Life issues are introduced in Congress, relatively few will come to vote.  Texas Right To Life closely monitors these measures and will only send out action alerts when an important issue needs to be acted upon immediately.

 

  • Be Timely.  Letters are most effective if they are received before a legislator has committed himself on an issue and certainly before an issue has been decided.

 

  • Be Concise.  Your letter should be short, to the point, and personal.  Do not send a copy of the Legislative Alert which you receive.  One page is usually sufficient.  Make your point in the first paragraph.  Mention the official name (and number, if applicable) of the bill or amendment you are writing about.  Stick to one issue per letter.  It is helpful to include supportive material (a newspaper clipping, a legislative fact sheet, etc.) with your letter, but the material must always come from a reliable source.

 

  • Be Respectful.  State your views in a firm but courteous tone.  Abusive language or explicit threats (“I will vote against you”) will not convert an unsympathetic legislator, and may even anger legislators who previously were undecided or sympathetic.

 

  • Support Your Position.  You should refer to your own observations and experiences, and to any special expertise which you may have on a specific subject.  Where appropriate, discuss the effect which a measure would have in the legislator’s own district.  If you are aware of the legislator’s past votes or statements on the issue, refer to them in your letter.

 

  • Personalize Your Letter.  Letters to legislators can be typed or neatly handwritten.  You can use information and arguments from legislative alerts, Life News, etc., but the letter should be in your own words.  Legislators generally pay more attention to one personal letter than to a dozen form letters or preprinted postcards.

 

  • Follow Up on Your Letter.  Expect a response to your letter.  If you write a representative, the initial response will often be a vague form letter.  Often, such letters merely explain what a bill does, without expressing the representative’s position on the measure.  If the response is not satisfactory, write again, referring to the earlier correspondence and asking specific questions (e.g., “Will you vote for the Pro-Life amendment?”).

 

Find your local legislators' address.

Address for U.S. House Members:
The Honorable__________________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Address for U.S. Senators:
Senator_________________
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

For background information or other assistance:

Elizabeth Graham, Legislative Director
Texas Right To Life Committee, Inc.
6776 Southwest Freeway, #430
Houston, Texas 77074
Phone (713) 782-LIFE
Fax (713) 952-2041

 


*If you write a letter on company letterhead, be sure that the opinions you express reflect official policy of the organization.  If your organization is a Texas Right To Life affiliate, the letter should also conform to Texas Right To Life policy.  You may not, for example, advocate unlawful activities if you are a TRTL affiliate.

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