Writing a Letter to the Editor
Letters to the editors of newspapers, magazines, and other publications are an effective way to spread the word about and rally support for the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act. Here are some tips for writing a successful letter.
- Write to a variety of publications.
- A well-written letter to a national or metropolitan newspaper or magazine reaches a large audience. Letters to school, community, special interest, and religious publications are read by people with particular concerns and perspectives. Small publications may be more likely to publish your letter. Consider each an opportunity with its own advantages.
- Be relevant.
- A letter to the editor should usually be a response to a recently published story, article, editorial, or column. Refer to the article's title, author, and date. If the publication targets a specific audience, write about topics and use terms that will appeal to that audience.
- Write now.
- The sooner a good letter is received, the more likely it is to be published. Letters should be emailed or faxed, if possible, especially to daily and weekly publications.
- Address good news and bad.
- Some letters may critique or rebut, others should praise and provide additional or supporting information. Use both opportunities to write a letter to the editor.
- Be concise.
- Most publications limit letters to 150-200 words. Check the length restrictions in each publication's guidelines. Focus on one point, select descriptive and powerful words, and lead with the most essential information.
- Be polite.
- Letters are more persuasive when the words and tone show respect for the author, publication, and other readers. A positive appeal, like "Compassionate people believe women deserve better than abortion," is more winsome than a negative accusation, like "Only a heartless person could advocate abortion."
- Be engaging.
- Incorporate a surprising fact, powerful image, or personal story into the letter. Readers' interests can be piqued by fresh perspectives and new information.
- Mention Feminists for Life by name.
- Spread the word. There are still many who would join us but have not yet heard our message. Use quotes from Serrin Foster, Patricia Heaton and our feminist foremothers, and use information from FFL's website.
- Inform your readers.
- Readers don't necessarily know all the facts. Educate readers by telling them the truth and providing supporting evidence.
- Encourage a holistic vision.
- We refuse to choose between women and children. To be truly pro-life is to be pro-woman, and to be truly pro-woman is to be pro-life. "Women deserve better" isn't just a slogan, it is who we are and what we do. We are defying the status quo and calling everyone to address the root causes that drive women to abortion.
- Encourage hope.
- The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Act is an effort to change campus culture, to provide the practical resources and support that pregnant women and parents need and deserve. Letters should propose real solutions and call people to action and commitment.
- Make each letter unique.
- Form letters do not appeal to editors or readers. Even letters that use information from other sources should be personalized with your own words and anecdotes. Send different letters to different publications.
- Mention relevant expertise or experience.
- If you are or have been a pregnant or parenting student, inform your readers. If you have experienced the tragedy of abortion, share your story. If you are a health care professional, mention your credentials.
- Provide contact information.
- Most publications require a name and phone number, and some an address, even if the information will not be published. Some publications will not print anonymous letters. Consult the requirements in each publication's guidelines.
- Allow time between letters.
- Editors do not want to publish the same authors every week. If your letter has been published recently, encourage a friend to write, or write to a different publication.
[Jane Smith's recent column in the University News Weekly] argued that without abortion women would not be able to fully participate in school, business, and society. I disagree. No woman should ever feel pressured to choose between sacrificing her education and career plans and sacrificing her children. There is a better way.
Since 1997, Feminists for Life has been working with students and members of the administration and faculty through non-confrontational pregnancy resource forums to identify, publicize, and improve resources for pregnant and parenting students on college and university campuses.
The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act, inspired by FFL's work, would provide incentives to colleges and universities to establish offices on campus that serve the needs of pregnant and parenting students.
We can all agree the number of abortions needs to be reduced. Compassionate people do not want any woman to suffer the personal tragedy of abortion. Women's advocates on our campus should support the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Act and work together to empower pregnant and parenting students on our campus with essential resources, because women deserve better than abortion.
Because women deserve better,
[Susan B. Student]
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