The First Place Winners in the National Right to Life Pro-Life Essay Contest.
Editor's note. The following essays were written for the National Right to Life Pro-Life Essay Contest. Olivia Rose Aveni won first place at the senior levelgrades 10-12and Elizabeth Bashore won first place at the junior levelgrades 7-9.
First Place Winner in the Senior Level
"I Thank God for Brooke in My Life"
By Olivia Rose Aveni, Manassas, Virginia, 12th grade
In 1973, a holocaust began in the United States. The Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade ended in a death sentence for over 50 million babies. Abortion throughout the country was now available on demand, and thus the tragic slaughter of the innocent unborn began.
Several decades later, my friend Brooke and I are sitting in a coffee shop. We belong to the Y generation ... those born between 1977 and 2002 (Stephanie Armour, "Generation Y," USA Today). Surrounding us are other faces of our generation ... a couple on a date, a group of girls laughing ... we can see the joy of life in their eyes. I turn and see Brooke smiling at them.
I am often struck with admiration for Brooke. She has an immense faith in God, and likes to write Bible verses on dollar bills that she uses to pay with at the store. I have often warned her that it is a federal offense, but she doesn't seem to mind.
Brooke likes to watch out for others. I often receive lectures from her as I wear my lightweight sweater in winter weather. She refuses to listen as I claim, "I'm not cold at all, Brooke!" and treats me to a cup of coffee to warm me up.
I thank God for Brooke being in my life.
Because she almost wasn't.
Sixteen years earlier, Brooke's mom got pregnant. She was a scared teenager with little help supporting her baby, and her baby boy was promptly aborted.
A few months later, Brooke's mom went to the doctor and was told shocking news. She was still pregnant. The abortionist had not seen a second baby ... a girl ... in the mother's womb, and had succeeded only in aborting the girl's twin brother.
Brooke's mom decided not to abort her daughter, and thus baby Brooke was born into this world in 1993.
Every day, Brooke tells me she asks God why it was her who was saved from the abortionist. Every day she wonders why.
I often wonder to myself what Brooke's twin would be like if he were here today. We'd probably be good friends. Would he worry about me getting cold in the winter, too? What if he asked me out on a date? Would we get coffee together, like Brooke and I do? I guess I'll never know those answers in this life.
Brooke's brother will never grace this earth with newfound knowledge, scientific discoveries, cures for cancer ... or even rolled up dollar bills with Scripture verses written on them. His legacy will never be known ... and neither will millions of other children aborted in my generation.
Generation Y is supposedly the generation of the "why" kids ... those who ask "why" incessantly (Armour, "Generation Y"). We are the children born right after Roe v. Wade came into effect. We were the first generation that was impacted the most by this deathly ruling. We are the ones who ask, "Why?"
Why, America, are you killing our friends?
Our brothers and sisters?
Maybe, just maybe, if we ask "why" enough, someone will answer.
First Place in the Junior Level
The Legacy of Roe: How Low Can We Go?
By Elizabeth Bashore, Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, 9th grade
"People see you as an object, not as person, and they project a set of expectations onto you" (Candace Bergen). When you Google the words "Teens" and "expectations," some of the top subjects that appear are drinking, smoking, and pregnancy. Our culture has become a culture of low expectations, and as a fifteen year old, these low expectations are nothing to be proud of accomplishing. Although the Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion on demand has affected my generation in numerous negative ways, the most prominent is that over 50 million people were robbed of their life. A less discussed but nonetheless very important impact of his decision is the fact that teens are now being held to expectations that are setting the bar lower than ever before.
"Our current ceiling for students is really much closer to where the floor ought to be" (Asa Hilliard). In today's society, teenage pregnancy is nothing unusual. However after a teenage girl is pregnant, society not only expects, but also encourages her to have an abortion. As a result, the ceiling for students in this situation is choosing life. Choosing life should not be the ceiling of teenage expectations; it should be the floor.
The movie Juno demonstrates this low expectation for teenagers. Juno, at sixteen years old, discovers she is pregnant and schedules an abortion, as many of her friends had done, without her parents' knowledge of the pregnancy or the scheduled abortion. If Juno had continued with her plans to have an abortion, living up to the expectations of society, the scene would have been so commonplace that there would have been no need for a movie. Instead, Juno chooses an alternativelife.
"The teen years are not a vacation from responsibility. They are the training ground of future leaders who dare to be responsbile now" [Alex and Brett Harris, Do Hard Things. Colorado Springs: Multinomah, 2008). By setting the bar so low for us today, what kind of leaders will we make tomorrow? If, as teenagers, we're not even taught to stand up for something as simple as life, how will we stand up for anything? More importantly, how are we going to make wise decisions as adults if we are not encouraged to support life over death as teens?
Despite society's low expectations, there are things we can do today to encourage strong leaders for tomorrow. Do Hard Things. This is the motto, and the title of the book behind The Rebelution, a teenage rebellion, over 18 million strong, against these low expectations. We not only need to push ourselves to do hard things, but we also need to be encouraged not to fall into society's trap of low expectations. Additionally, Teens for Life groups across the country are actively encouraging teens to protect life. Rebelling against society's low expectations today will not only give more voices to the voiceless, but will also provide strong, wise leaders for tomorrow.