speak up!

From my email to your screen, three worthwhile petitions to sign/letters to send:
From NARAL, Urge the FDA to improve access to the morning-after pill:

Will the Bush administration – FINALLY – put aside its anti-choice agenda in order to improve women’s access to birth control?
We’ll know by September 1, when Bush’s FDA is scheduled to decide whether to allow the morning-after pill to be sold without a prescription.
Making the morning-after pill available for over-the-counter access isn’t just good health policy for women, it’s common sense. The morning-after pill, also called emergency contraception or EC, prevents pregnancy AFTER sex – and it is most effective the sooner it’s taken. It’s also extremely safe, and it won’t harm an existing pregnancy. The FDA’s own scientific and medical advisory panels overwhelmingly support improving access to it.
So what’s the hold up? Could it be vocal anti-choice members of Congress who urged Bush and the FDA to reject the application? Could it be President Bush, whose own spokesperson wouldn’t even “dignify” a simple question asking Bush’s position on birth control with an answer?
Help us tell the FDA that Americans don’t appreciate anti-choice politics getting in the way of sound science and women’s access to birth control.

(They’re a bit shrill, eh? Why ever could that be?)
From the ACLU, Tell Congress the Patriot Act Needs Reform:

The flawed provisions of the Patriot Act threaten our basic constitutional freedoms by giving the government the power to access our medical records, our tax records, and information about the books we buy or borrow, all without probable cause or any facts connecting us to foreign terrorists. The Patriot Act also gives the government the power to obtain a special “sneak and peek” search warrant to break into our homes and conduct secret searches without telling us for weeks, months or indefinitely, and without any connection to terrorism at all. The Patriot Act needs to be reformed, not expanded or made permanent.
Hundreds of communities — and seven states — have passed resolutions against the worst excesses of the Patriot Act. Our message is clear: It is time for Congress to listen to its constituents and bring the Patriot Act in line with the Constitution.

and Demand An Independent Counsel for Torture Abuses and Release of Relevant Documents:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (ptui!) is now the nation’s top law enforcement officer and as such is responsible for investigating how our government’s torture policies took such a misguided path. The American people deserve to know the truth about what torture tactics have been employed in the past and what tactics will be used in the future. Because Gonzales was involved in the development of the policies, Gonzales needs to commit to ensuring a full and fair investigation by agreeing to appoint an outside special counsel for torture and abuse investigations and prosecutions of civilians.
It is important that Gonzales agree to appoint an outside special counsel because an array of already-released documents clearly show that top government officials considered and eventually ordered the removal of protections against many abusive detention and interrogation practices. Despite loudly repeated demands by Congress and the American people, the Bush Administration has successfully blocked the release of documents related to policy changes that paved the way for the horrors of Abu Ghraib and other American-operated detention facilities.

These petitions and letters do matter. They are a useful way for lobbying groups to demonstrate the nature and strength of public opinion, one of the few things besides money to which politicians will respond. The higher the volume, the greater the impact, so every single signature/letter counts, and taking part gives you the chance to amplify your voice and have it reach much further than it could alone. So I’m going to keep posting these links, and I’ve changed the name of the category from the begrudging “better than nothing” to “have your say”.