NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Helen M. Alvare, associate professor of law at George Mason University in Arlington, Va., is the second winner of the Evangelium Vitae Medal from the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life.
The award, which will be presented at an April 25 banquet, was announced Oct. 2 to coincide with Respect Life Sunday.
In announcing the 2012 award winner, David Solomon, who chairs the fund's governing committee, said Alvare "has courageously and powerfully defended the cause of life against all comers for two decades."
"In some of the darkest hours for the pro-life cause in this country, her voice was heard clearly," said Solomon, director of the university's Center for Ethics and Culture. "With a public presence in the popular debate, a foot in the scholarly world that bolsters and sustains the deep arguments on life issues and her extraordinary ability to connect with people, she has been a hero to us all."
The Evangelium Vitae Medal, which includes a $10,000 prize, was first presented earlier this year to Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.
Alvare, who earned a law degree from Cornell University and a master's in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America, began her career with the Philadelphia law firm of Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young, specializing in commercial litigation and free exercise of religion matters.
She joined the U.S. bishops' Office of General Counsel in 1987, serving as a staff attorney for three years before moving to the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities as director of planning and information. In that role she testified before congressional committees, lectured nationwide and spoke on numerous television and radio programs for the U.S. Catholic bishops.
She also assisted the Vatican on matters concerning women, marriage and the family, and respect for human life and has served since 2008 as a consultor on the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
Alvare became an associate professor of law at Catholic University in 2000, teaching courses in property, family law, Catholic social thought and legislation until she joined George Mason's law school faculty in 2008.
Her current academic concerns are related to abortion's impact on women, marriage, parenting and new reproductive technologies.
The Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life is dedicated to educating Notre Dame students regarding the dignity of human life, especially at its beginning stages, and to encourage understanding, support and involvement among the entire Notre Dame community on beginning of life issues.
It funds activities and projects that can include transportation to the annual March for Life in Washington for Notre Dame students who cannot afford it; expenses of the undergraduate and law school pro-life groups, beyond what they receive independently; essay contests and other academic competitions; seminars and other campus conferences on life issues; and faculty, student and intern research into issues regarding human life in its beginning stages.