New rival challenges Georgia Right to Life

We apparently have a fight in this state’s pro-life movement – and an overt attempt to sideline Georgia Right to Life’s pre-eminence among anti-abortion forces in the state Capitol.

A rival group, Georgia Life Alliance, based in Rome, will challenge GRTL for membership within the National Right to Life organization. Only one member per state is permitted.

Our information on the new organization is limited. According to the secretary of state’s website, the organization was formed only March 13. Lance Cooper, a well-known Cobb County attorney and former candidate for state Senate, is listed as an officer. Also listed is Emily Joy Matson, a Rome attorney, and Kristin Radtke of Suwanee, who appears to the be wife of Trip Radtke of the Stoneridge Group.

There's an assumption in these quarters that this has everything to do with the U.S. Senate race. U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, is prominently featured on the current GRTL website, praised for his endorsement of the organization’s aggressive approach – which some critics have described as all-or-nothing.

Likewise, the group’s antipathy toward former secretary of state Karen Handel dates to the 2010 race for governor and beyond.

The major point of contention: The National Right to Life organization allows for exceptions to abortion bans in cases of rape and incest. GRTL does not, and has insisted that no politician who endorses those exceptions can be considered pro-life.

Last June, Broun voted against a “fetal pain” abortion bill backed by House Republicans that would ban abortions after a fetus is 20 weeks old. He and Georgia Right to Life blanched when House Republican leaders inserted exceptions for rape and incest.

Posted on the GRTL website:

Georgia Right to Life (GRTL) President Dan Becker today expressed disappointment that a local group is challenging its effectiveness as a pro-life advocacy group in Georgia. The group called, "Georgia Life Alliance," served notice GRTL that it will seek to replace GRTL's membership at the National Right to Life Board (NRLC) at that organization's March 29 meeting.

GRTL became an affiliate of NRLC in 1971. NRLC has mentored, guided and helped GRTL in many ways. Much of our success has been aided by their efforts.

"This newly formed organization claims it will do a better job of promoting, pursuing and achieving the primary goals of National Right to Life (NRLC)." Becker said. "That's unbelievable since our guiding principles are the same as NRLC's."

Here are a few paragraphs from a June article by Erick Erickson of, making the counter argument:

“It is Georgia Right to Life that is morally vacant. Their pharisaical positions leave no room to advance the fight on life. They would rather death continue than some deaths be abated. They seek cover behind their characterization of a piece of legislation and denounce virtually every other pro-life organization in the United States of America.

“But ultimately, the exceptions are there and popular because Georgia Right to Life has failed at its mission. Instead of admitting defeat and working for victory, Dan Becker and Georgia Right to Life would now rather defeat their own allies than accept their own failures.

“The rape and incest exceptions exist because pro-life groups like Georgia Right to Life have failed to persuade a majority of Americans that those exceptions should not exist. Instead of trying to persuade Americans, Georgia Right to Life would prefer to brow beat politicians who are trying to advance a pro-life agenda.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.