By Nichole L. Nelson
Rhode Island Right to Life held its fourth annual pro-life oratory contest for high school students on Saturday, April 21, at St. Patrick’s School in Providence. The contest is named in honor of pro-life pioneer Dr. Mildred Jefferson and is part of RIRTL’s education program. RIRTL holds the contest to develop pro-life speakers and to select one student to represent Rhode Island in the annual National Right to Life Convention and Oratory Contest. This year’s contestant at the NRL Convention, to be held June 28 – 30 in Washington, D.C., will be homeschooled senior Jenica Shorey.
Participants in the RIRTL contest came from public, private and home schools throughout the state. Speakers presented five- to seven-minute compositions on pro-life topics such as euthanasia, stem cell research and abortion and were judged on presentation and delivery, as well as content and clarity.
Some of the organizations present on the judging panels were Providence Life Center, St. Mark’s Church in Cranston, CareNet, West Bay Christian Academy, and Silent No More. Also among the judges were former contestants.
Shorey gave an informative speech on euthanasia and its various forms, particularly active voluntary euthanasia. Although proponents of active voluntary euthanasia claim to favor of self-autonomy, Shorey says the act is “a horrible injustice because it leaves no option for a person to choose life…. People are not free until they know that life is an option.”
Ashley Ford, a senior at Cranston West High School, took second place. She moved the room to tears with her mother’s story of disregarding doctors’ advice to have an abortion because of her cancer. In third place was Immaculate Conception Academy senior Margaret Antonio.
In the underclassmen division, first place went to sophomore Kara O’Donnell of Immaculate Conception Academy, who also placed in last year’s competition. In second place was sophomore homeschooler Maggie Hutchins, and in third place was freshman homeschooler Georgia Hathaway.
RIRTL’s next educational event is the annual Summer Academy, a free course in pro-life issues for high school students. The Academy runs once a week for eight weeks in July and August and includes workshops, games, snacks and prestigious pro-life speakers. For more information or to register, call Alison Corcoran at (401) 521-1860 or email AlisonC@RIRTL.org. RIRTL, an affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, is also active in the pro-life movement through lobbying and services to mothers in need.