Sudden personnel change thrusts pro-life group into uncomfortable spotlight

Sudden personnel change thrusts pro-life group into uncomfortable spotlight

Sudden personnel change thrusts pro-life group into uncomfortable spotlight

The abrupt firing by a pro-life group of a Christian woman has brought the group into the spotlight for an interesting question: How pro-life is Ohio Right to Life?

Lizzie Marbach, communications specialist for Ohio Right to Life, was fired last week after her social media post that repeated one of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith was challenged by a Jewish Republican U.S. congressman.

Marbach wrote from her personal account on X, formerly Twitter: "There's no hope for any of us outside of having faith in Jesus Christ alone." Rep. Max Miller (Ohio-R) responded with his own post saying: "This is one of the most bigoted tweets I have ever seen. Delete it, Lizzie. Religious freedom in the United States applies to every religion. You have gone too far." Miller's wife sits on the board of Ohio Right to Life.

Congressman Miller quickly apologized after widespread backlash, but Marbach was fired two days after the online dust-up.

Marbach, Elizabeth (Ohio Right to Life) Marbach

Marbach was interviewed on American Family Radio Monday morning. "I'm hoping that what I'm going through will really inspire everyone across the country, Christians specifically, to stand up, speak the truth and not be afraid of the consequences," she shared.

Joining forces with Miller was Casey Weinstein, an Ohio state representative, who became the second elected official to oppose Marbach.

Plenty of others, however, had her back. Marbach had lots of support among the more than 12,000 replies and reposts of Miller's rebuke – even from unlikely sources like far-left Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Seth Dillon with The Babylon Bee suggested Miller should have blamed the post on his account being hacked.

But for all the support Marbach received, none of it came from her employer – Ohio Right to Life.

Internal communications at Ohio Right to Life reviewed by The Sentinel showed that Marbach was offered the opportunity to resign from the entity or receive a transition period before her official dismissal, both of which she declined.

"I think that the right-to-life movement as a whole has been overtaken by this kind of political correctness. And [it's very sad that some] people who get involved … really just see it as an opportunity to raise their own name, to build up their own pocket rather than actually fighting against murder." (Lizzie Marbach)

It was building to this point

The firing may have been the breaking point in a deteriorating relationship with between Marbach and Ohio Right to Life, The Sentinel's Ben Zeisloft told show host Jenna Ellis.

"A few days before she was dismissed after the Max Miller incident, she and a superior disagreed about her calling a pro-abortion activist a 'murderous liar.' That pro-abortion activist happened to be advocating for murder and lying, of course," said the journalist.

"We obtained some texts showing that disagreement, and the superior was worried about the 'tone' of the tweet. That was the word that kept coming up. So, this seems to have been a long time coming, not because of Lizzie's lack of service or anything like that but because of the disagreement on philosophy. And that culminated, of course, with her getting on the wrong side of a Republican congressman whose wife was on the board," Zeisloft said.

Ohio Right to Life had sought a softer tone in the abortion discussion before. The group opposed Heartbeat Bill legislation that reached the desk of then-Gov. John Kasich in 2016, prompting the Columbus Dispatch to describe the state's pro-life movement as "bitterly divided."

Ohio Right to Life said it opposed the heartbeat bill on the grounds that it could have been ruled unconstitutional in federal court. The group instead asked Kasich to sign a bill with a 20-week abortion ban.

"It is recognized in Ohio and across the nation as the best and only realistic approach to not only save unborn lives now, but also to serve as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade," board chair Marshal Pitchford and president Michael Gonidakis wrote to Kasich then. Both men are still with Ohio Right to Life.

In Marbach's opinion, Ohio Right to Life takes a position that doesn't go far enough to save unborn lives.

"There was almost a decade-long fight where Ohio Right to life opposed the heartbeat bill. Their president, Mike Gonidakis, infamously opposed the heartbeat bill and other things that would have restricted abortion even stronger than Ohio already had," Marbach said.

Decision-makers drive softer policy stance

Not all within the organization agree with the softer approach from a group whose name touts being pro-life, but the decision-makers drive policy.

"Ohio Right to Life has made it unfortunately clear that they are more concerned with retaining their political influence and their ability to go to these high-dollar dinners than they are in actually ending abortion and abstinence," Marbach argued, adding that many within the organization "would become flabbergasted" when they would see pushback for calling abortion murder.

"Why aren't we acting on that? Why are we comfortable with taking these small strides or these small compromises that might move us an inch towards where we're trying to go, but it's not actually saving any preborn lives?" Marbach asked.

Zeisloft said Ohio Right to Life's treatment of Marbach – in addition to policy decisions – should make conservatives take a long look at the pro-life groups they're supporting with their cash.

"The Republican Party and their apparatuses, which would include a higher right to life, they're under the impression that they need a big tent," he explained. "And so, Christians are donating to organizations like that and thinking that they're there to end abortion."

In reality, according to Zeisloft, advancing the pro-life cause is "not always the first priority."