By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published December 14, 2023
ATLANTA—Finding common purpose with the Georgia Life Alliance, the Archdiocese of Atlanta will once again be represented at a rally and march around the State Capitol advocating for the unborn child.
It has been about a decade since the archdiocese has officially been part of the march, when it was hosted by Georgia Right to Life.
“While there are still important battles for life at the federal level, since the Dobbs Supreme Court case, the fight for life is moving to the state level,” said Joey Martineck, the director of Respect Life Ministry.
While the downtown Atlanta rally is scheduled for February, there will be the observance of the Roe V. Wade decision with the annual Mass for the Preborn. Auxiliary Bishop John N. Tran will attend this Mass on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Holy Spirit Church, Atlanta.
Martineck said the Mass is intentionally scheduled for a Saturday to allow more students and families to attend. He said the January and February events are complementary, highlighting the importance of both prayer and public witness.
Supreme Court ended federal abortion rights
Since the Supreme Court issued its Dobbs decision, which held that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion, the issue has been decided on a state-by-state basis. In Georgia, the 2019 “heartbeat bill” went into effect that prevents abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. It limits abortions to about the first six weeks of pregnancy. Opponents of the law said many women do not know they are pregnant by that time.
A poll by the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs found more than 54 percent of Georgia’s likely voters were strongly opposed to the law.
Researchers believe the number of abortions has gone up since the Dobbs decision. According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, there were 39,067 abortions performed in the state in 2022, a 1% increase from 2021.
“We want to see abortion abolished not only in the law, but for there to be so much help offered to moms and families that abortion becomes unthinkable,” said Martineck.
Advocates have had to confront misinformation about the law and how it impacts pregnancy, he said.
At the same time, advocates for the unborn keep fighting to ensure public money goes to aid women in need. In October, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners considered funding $300,000 to support abortions in Georgia. The measure failed, and commissioners should instead direct that money to help moms with housing, food, baby supplies and childcare, Martineck said. Emergency housing for moms is one of the most significant needs in Georgia right now, he noted.
Martineck said the legislation is essential, but it does not always attack “the root of the problem.” According to the Lozier Institute, more than 4 out of 10 women seeking abortions had a high school education or less. Some 65 percent of the abortions were performed on Black women and more than half were women in their 20s. The institute is affiliated with the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America organization.
The three-year-old Walking with Moms in Need initiative has aided many people, including a pregnant mom with three children living in a tent and her car, Martineck said. By collaborating with St. Vincent de Paul Georgia, the family got housing, furniture and supplies for the baby. He said more than 17 parishes have organized active Walking with Moms in Need ministries, but that’s out of more than 100 parishes.
“I would like to see more parishes step up to the plate,” he said in an email.
Unity in pro-life community
The Feb. 22 rally will highlight the strong numbers and the diversity of organizations supporting the pro-life message.
A large turnout can help convince state legislators to support another proposed law called the Women’s Health and Safety Act. According to Martineck, it would require an in-person visit to the abortion provider to dispense the abortion pill and require an ultrasound. He said the mandated visit would make it safer for a woman and give her time to avoid obtaining an abortion out of panic.
He said more than 70% of abortions in Georgia are occurring via the chemical abortion pill.
The Food and Drug Administration has reported that 5.9 million women have taken mifepristone for termination of pregnancy from 2000 through 2022, with 32 deaths reported among the women.
Pregnant? Need help? Contact Pregnancy Aid Clinic at 404-763-4357, www.pac-woman.com or Walking with Moms in Need in Atlanta: archatl.com/ministries-services/respect-life-ministry/walking-with-moms-in-need.