By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published January 31, 2013
ATLANTA—Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion, Mary Boyert remembers a couple coming to speak at her Ohio parish about what they believed would be the horrifying consequences of the decision.
After speaking at Mass that day at St. Columbkille Church, in Parma, Ohio, the couple invited parishioners to join them for a more detailed presentation, which featured slides developed by Dr. John Willke, that showed the early stages of life in a developing fetus, followed by the alarming depiction of what abortion does to those tiny lives.
“They showed a little baby that had survived an early delivery and how the nurse’s wedding ring fit on the baby’s arm,” Boyert recalled. “Even to this day I remember that picture.”
It was a day that changed her life. Since then, Boyert, who directs the Atlanta Archdiocese’s Respect Life ministry, has been dedicated to the pro-life movement, first volunteering and assisting the growing cause as much as she could, and then taking on various professional roles to help spread awareness and knowledge of what was happening to hundreds of thousands, and now millions, of babies each year.
Boyert and her husband moved to Georgia in 1978, where she became involved with Georgia Right to Life. She spent 21 years working at GRTL before joining the staff of the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1999. While she feels pro-life efforts have stayed “fairly consistent” over the last few decades, she has noticed some changes.
“I think early on when we got involved we thought, ‘We’ll just pass a human life amendment and it will all be over with,’” said Boyert.
Now 40 years later, pro-life workers have learned to seek small steps through legislation.
Boyert also realized that there are many other ways to address the incidence of abortion besides seeking governmental intervention. The rise of pregnancy crisis centers and interdenominational respect life groups has allowed people to come together and focus on the importance of supporting families who are considering abortion, in addition to seeking a change in laws.
“People have always been aware that there is not one way to solve this, not through legislation only. You need to educate people,” she said.
Many people still do not realize that abortion is legal beyond the first trimester of pregnancy, she said, a common misconception among those who do not closely follow the pro-life issue.
She has been inspired by the growing number of young people involved in the pro-life movement. There was a point when many people began to give up, uncertain if there would ever be any progress made, she said. But the younger generations have given encouragement to those who have been fighting for several decades.
“A lot of our schools are getting involved,” she said, adding that numerous pro-life clubs at schools are popping up throughout the archdiocese.
As Boyert reflects on the 40 years since the U.S. Supreme Court decision, she recognizes the progress that has been made in changing people’s hearts and minds, but also the importance of pro-lifers coming together to support each other in this crucial fight for the sanctity of life.
“It is important to give people an opportunity to join together and pray together because sometimes this work is very difficult,” she said.
For information on becoming involved in the Respect Life Ministry in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, contact (404) 920-7360 or http://archatl.com/ministries/respectlife.