Medal Recipients

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2016: Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire and the Little Sisters of the Poor

The Little Sisters of the Poor are an international congregation of women religious dedicated to serving the elderly poor. Founded in 1839 by St. Jeanne Jugan, the Little Sisters now operate in 31 countries around the world, with 30 homes in the United States that offer health care and assisted living for more than 13,000 low-income seniors.

In 2012, led by Maguire, the Little Sisters of the Poor became the face of religious nonprofit organizations struggling against a federal mandate to facilitate access to contraceptives and drugs that (according to FDA labeling) may function by causing the death of newly conceived human beings.

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2015: Carl Anderson and the Knights of Columbus

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The Knights of Columbus is a Roman Catholic organization with 1.8 million members worldwide dedicated to good works and informed by the principles of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. Anderson has served as Supreme Knight for fourteen years and has led the Knights and their families to unprecedented levels of charitable giving and support for their communities and the Church. Over the past decade, under his guidance, the organization has donated more than 664 million hours of service and $1.4 billion to charity, including the donation of over 268 ultrasound machines valued at more than $14 million to pregnancy resource centers in 44 states and Canada.

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2014: Chris and Marie Smith

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Representative Smith is the co-chair of the Bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus in the House of Representatives and the former Executive Director of the New Jersey Right to Life Committee. He is the author of the $265 million Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005, the groundbreaking law that established—for the first time—a nationwide program for ethical research and medical treatment using umbilical cord blood and bone marrow cells. Smith’s stem cell law was reauthorized in September 2010 for another five years. Another Smith initiative, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Amendment, was first passed in 1983 to prevent the funding of abortion in the federal employee health benefits program. This Smith amendment has been in effect all but two years since. Smith is also the author of the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act, a legislative proposal for a comprehensive government-wide prohibition on taxpayer funding for elective abortion. 

Marie Smith is the director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, a non-partisan global outreach of Gospel of Life Ministries that works to identify, unite, and strategize with pro-life groups, lawmakers, and religious leaders to advance respect for life in law and policy. Based in Washington, D.C., PNCI assists lawmakers and religious leaders from around the world in helping elected officials organize working groups in their legislatures to more effectively advance pro-life laws and build sustainable pro-life leadership in capitals around the world. 

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2013: Mother Agnes Mary Donovan and the Sisters of Life

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Founded in 1991 by Cardinal John O’Connor, the Sisters of Life is a contemplative and active religious community of women. As in most religious communities, its members take the three traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, as well as a fourth vow to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life. In addition to their contemplative prayer, they provide hospitality and support for pregnant women and lead “Hope and Healing” retreats serving women and men who have suffered from abortion.

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2012: Helen Alvaré

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Helen Alvaré is a law professor at the George Mason School of Law. In 1987, Alvaré joined the Office of General Counsel for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), drafting amicus briefs in leading U.S. Supreme Court cases concerning abortion, euthanasia, and the First Amendment’s establishment clause. For the next ten years, she worked with the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities at the NCCB, lobbying, testifying before federal congressional committees, lecturing nationwide, and speaking on numerous television and radio programs for the U.S. Catholic bishops. She also assisted the Holy See on matters concerning women, marriage and the family, and respect for human life.Helen Alvare is a professor of law at George Mason School of Law and a public policy fellow at the Center for Ethics and Culture. Alvaré earned her law degree from Cornell University in 1984 and a master's degree in systematic theology from the Catholic University of America in 1989. She has practiced with the Philadelphia law firm of Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, specializing in commercial litigation and free exercise of religion matters. Before joining George Mason’s law school faculty, she taught at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law.

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2011: Richard Doerflinger

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A tireless leader in the pro-life movement for over 30 years, Richard Doerflinger, the secretariat for pro-life activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been involved in every single life issue, including embryo research, abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and euthanasia, at the very highest level in federal and state governments. Doerflinger’s efforts were integral to the conception, passage, and continued vitality of parental notification and consent, unborn victims of violence, and born-alive infant protection laws, partial-birth abortion bans, conscience protections, the Weldon Amendment (which prevents patenting of human embryos), and abortion funding restrictions, both domestic and international, such as the Hyde Amendment and the Mexico City Policy. Doerflinger was also instrumental in the ultimately unsuccessful campaign to protect the unborn in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In addition to this work, Doerflinger is a bioethics expert and public policy fellow at the Center for Ethics and Culture.

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