Thursday, March 16, 2017

New Ohio Life Coalition Introduced

Group formed to press for no compromise for abortion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MARCH 10, 2017                        
CONTACT:  Ed Sitter, President (419) 353-1977

CLEVELAND-Citing the need for a new strategy for pro-life victory and for a commitment to integrity, a coalition of metropolitan and regional pro-life organizations announced the formation of the Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio, Inc.,  (RTLACO) as a new association of pro-life membership organizations in the state.

RTLACO focuses on developing and strengthening local grass roots pro-life leadership, true representative governing for the statewide organization, a commitment to a consistent, holistic pro-life standard to evaluate both policies and elected officials/candidates, and collaborative engagement to develop priorities for action. A press conference announcing the new group was held during the 2017 Bringing America Back to Life Convention, hosted by Cleveland Right to Life. This world class educational conference will become the RTLACO annual membership meeting.

"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" stated Ed Sitter of Greater Toledo Right to Life, the President of the new organization. "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 also noted "to have an effective and vibrant statewide pro-life organization it must be genuinely grassroots in its DNA, a bottom-up movement similar to how our Founders envisioned the governance of our great nation." The coalition structure shows it will operate with a Board of Delegates, an Executive committee, a Legislative steering committee and a political action panel that each will be tasked with ensuring true statewide representation and coordinating on holding to a no-exceptions standard for both policy and candidate engagement.

Paula Westwood, executive director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, also a member of RTLACO, commented:  "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 over 35 Ohio pro-life groups and successfully stopped the MOLST bill and ensured that the legislature added class 3 felony penalties to existing sanctions against assisted suicide."

Sitter agrees. "The MOLST issue is a classic example of the value of having a legislative steering committee. This group of individuals from around the state will 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."

Some of the organization's key priorities and principles were put forth by member groups during the announcement. Paul Coudron, executive director of Dayton Right to Life, and Margie Christie, assistant director, spoke to the reasons why RTLACO is holding to a "no-exceptions" position in defending life and promoting policies, and also why support for religious liberty protections for people of faith will help ensure the continuation of pro-life efforts to end abortion. Coudron put forth 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'."

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 the mission statement of a pro-life organization to include a defense of traditional 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. 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."

The Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio is currently in the process of developing programs and support structures for member groups. Their board has engaged a legislative consultant to advance their initial policy priorities, and is planning strategies to help grow and empower local organizations within the Coalition. Ed Sitter closed by saying "We want to help be the catalyst that helps every local pro-life group in Ohio achieve their maximum effectiveness in the communities they serve, and to train and develop the next generation of pro-life leaders who stand uncompromisingly for the intrinsic value of life."

Cleveland Right to Life Mission
WE believe that all human beings are made in the image of the Creator and must be respected and protected from the moment of conception until natural death. We know to be true that human rights begin when human life begins, as affirmed in the Declaration of Independence.  So as to foster a culture of life we promote and defend the right to life of all innocent human beings and reject such practices as abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, and same-sex marriage that are contrary to "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God".  We represent pro-life citizens from over 8 counties in the region, making our organization one of the largest pro-life organizations in the State of Ohio. We focus our efforts first and foremost at the local level to achieve local solutions and then cooperate with the state and national pro-life efforts as directed and needed.

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