Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo by Andrew Nelson
Students from St. Mary’s Academy in Fayetteville led the 2024 March for Life which began at Liberty Plaza at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta Feb. 22. The students representing the school’s Pro-Life Club included, from left, Franklin Vo, Zachi Abara, Catherine Sharpe, Stella Moratis, Molly Krabel and Kwasi Williams.


Advocates, students and officials gather in support of crisis pregnancy centers 

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published March 11, 2024

ATLANTA—Students from St. Mary’s Academy, Fayetteville, led the way around the Georgia Capitol as hundreds turned out for the 2024 Georgia March for Life. 

A large crowd filled Liberty Plaza Feb. 22, in the shadow of the capitol building, to hear from two dozen elected officials and advocates promoting crisis pregnancy centers and other resources. 

Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III opened the hour rally, urging people not to be silent on this issue.  

“We fail to protect the precious gift of life if we choose to remain silent and fail to speak up for those brothers and sisters who are vulnerable to having their lives terminated, especially the unborn who have no voice to plead their cause before the courts of the whole world,” said Bishop Shlesinger.  

He said prayers are needed to for mothers and fathers who chose abortion “as they grieve for the child they are not able to embrace.”  

In addition, he asked for prayers for the elderly and those who are alone; prisoners incarcerated and those facing death.   

It had been nearly a decade since the Archdiocese of Atlanta officially participated in these events of the Georgia Life Alliance. Archdiocesan leaders said they hope to see more churches represented next year.   

Among the crowds were parishioners from St. Monica Church, Duluth, who arrived by bus. Members of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Carrollton, carpooled to drive from the church on the western edge of the archdiocese. A contingency of men from the Knights of Columbus at the Good Shepherd Church, Cumming, held the parish’s banner.  

Annie Valenty, who works for the EWTN Catholic media organization, said the day started with a rosary and prayer at 6:30 a.m. before Mass and traveling to downtown Atlanta. 

Participants in the Feb. 22 March for Life say the Pledge of Allegiance. A rally, and invocation by Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III, preceded the march. Photo by Andrew Nelson

“There’s nothing more critical than preserving human life,” she said.   

Valenty said she felt joyful with the ability to help mothers and families with their challenges to protect their children.  

Father Jack Durkin, pastor of St. Monica Church, Duluth, wore a knit cap reading “Make More Babies.” Father Durkin said he would like to see lawmakers enact laws which aid women and fathers in supporting their young families, with a strong safety net and other measures.  

In Carrollton, Julie Coppinger is the new leader of the Walking with Moms in Need program. Currently, the program gets few requests for help, indicating to her the parish ministry is not well known.  

Her strategy is to work with other community nonprofits to streamline the assistance process for families to gain quicker access to what they need.  

Mothers and fathers need wrap-around services to raise children, so Coppinger wants the parish ministry to work on jobs, housing and food insecurity or whatever else is keeping parents from raising their children.   

Joey Martineck, the director of archdiocesan Respect Life Ministry, said more government aid for women facing crisis pregnancies would help eliminate the demand for abortion. 

“The risk is becoming like the Pharisees who impose heavy burdens on people without lifting a finger to help them. We need to make sure moms have all the help they need to have their babies and raise them in challenging situations,” he said.   

Since 2022, Georgia’s LIFE Act limits abortions performed in the state after the point in which a heartbeat is detectable. However, researchers state the number of abortions has gone up since the Dobbs decision returned the issue of abortion rights to the states. The Charlotte Lozier Institute found there were 39,067 abortions performed in Georgia in 2022, a 1% increase from 2021.  

Martineck said he was concerned the enforcement of the LIFE Act is lax considering how “freely the chemical abortion pill is being distributed.” He said a proposal called “Women’s Health and Safety Act,” would better reach the goal to lower abortions in the state.   

Among the speakers was Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, a member of All Saints Church, Dunwoody. He spoke of his effort to aid expectant mothers while upholding the state’s six-week abortion ban.  

“All life is sacred,” he said to the supportive crowd.  

While the LIFE Act is in force, it must continually be defended and protected from constitutional challenges, said Carr.  

As the state’s top law enforcement officer, Carr said his office is aggressive in aiding victims of human trafficking. He said a special unit goes after these criminals in an initiative across the state. Some 129 victims have had their lives returned to them, he said.  

Other speakers at the March for Life rally included: State Senator Ed Setzler of District 37; U.S. Representative Rich McCormick; Georgia Commissioner of Labor Bruce Thompson; Dr. Alveda King, founder of Alveda King Ministries and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Rhonda Killingsworth, From Lamb to Lion Ministry; Claire Bartlett, Georgia Life Alliance executive director; Erin P. Getz, director of the State March Program, March for Life Education and Defense Fund; and Pastor Chuck Ramsey, Restoration Church. 

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to correct the home parish of Attorney General Carr.