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New Pro-life Coalition Formed for Ohio

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A new coalition of Ohio pro-life organizations announced its formation at the Bringing America Back to Life conference in Cleveland last week.

The Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio (RTLACO) will focus on developing and strengthening local grass roots pro-life leadership; using a consistent, holistic pro-life standard to evaluate policies and elected officials/candidates; and “collaborative engagement to develop priorities for action,” said Ed Sitter, president of the new organization and representative for Greater Toledo Right to Life.

“”Over the last several years it has become increasingly obvious that the pro-life community in Ohio needs a new voice to champion the Right to Life movement,” Sitter said at a press conference Friday. “It is time that we embrace a governance model and strategy for victory for the 21st Century. We are going to put the roots in Ohio’s pro-life grassroots movement.”

Sitter said that to be “genuinely grassroots in its DNA, a bottom-up movement similar to how our Founders envisioned the governance of our great nation,” the coalition will operate with a
Board of Delegates, an Executive committee, a Legislative steering committee, and a political action panel. Each is meant to act with “true statewide representation and coordinating on holding to a no-exceptions standard for both policy and candidate engagement.” The Cleveland conference, held for the first time last year, will be the RTLACO’s annual membership meeting.

The founding member groups agree that life must be protected from conception to natural death, with no exceptions, and do not accept an incremental approach to legislation. Paul Coudron, executive director of Dayton Right to Life, and Margie Christie, assistant director, explained at the press conference that “if we leave any unborn child to the tender mercies of the abortionist’s blade or forceps, or support politicians who believe a baby’s value is dependent upon the circumstances of its conception, we have lost the right to continue to call ourselves ‘pro-life.’ We have become ‘pro-regulation,’ which is just saying ‘pro-abortion-but-in-fewer-circumstances.'”

Paula Westwood, executive director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, explained that RTLACO will also focus on end-of-life issues. “Last year, our coalition became aware of a pro-euthanasia group, so-called ‘Compassion and Choices,’ targeting Ohio to legalize assisted suicide, along with an attempt to enshrine in law a suspect end of life form called Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST).

“We united more than 35 Ohio pro-life groups, successfully stopped the MOLST bill, and ensured that the legislature added class 3 felony penalties to existing sanctions against assisted suicide.”

The coalition formed to oppose MOLST, Sitter said, is “a classic example of the value of having a legislative steering committee.” RTLACO will use the same strategy, he said, to “look beyond the headlines to see the underlying content. We will understand why we would or would not support a specific piece of legislation and then in turn communicate that understanding to those we represent before taking a position.”

Molly Smith, President of Cleveland Right to Life and a board member of the coalition group, was one of the first in Ohio to expand a pro-life organization’s mission statement to include a defense of man-woman marriage. She noted that standing on core principles will be a hallmark of the new organization.

“It is vital that every organization that is part of this coalition is in unity on the core pro-life beliefs and family values,” she said. “The pro-life grassroots in Ohio stand in solidarity on these principles. We recognize that we may take various views on timing and strategy, but our foundations must be solid and communicated clearly and effectively to our policymakers and others.”

RTLACO’s membership is not exclusive – affiliate groups may affiliate with any other organizations and groups as long as they agree to the RTLACO policy statement. For information about the coalition, to receive a copy of its detailed policy document, or to apply for membership, see their Facebook page here

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