“As a society, we cannot afford the attitude that everyone should decide for themselves when a human being is a human being and then kill anyone not fitting the definition,” stated 13-year-old Olivia Malham during the recent Tennessee Right to Life Pro-Life Oratory Contest for High School Students. This 14th annual event, one of the nation’s largest, was held at Aquinas College in Nashville.
Winners from 15 participating chapters across the state qualified to attend by competing against nearly 100 public, private, and home-schooled students in grades 9-12. Each contestant researched, wrote, and presented an original 5-7 minute pro-life speech on abortion, euthanasia, infanticide or stem-cell research.
A resident of Cross Plains, Olivia won the Robertson County Right to Life contest and also took home first place from the state contest. Olive spoke of the mindset in which too many Americans show a blatant disrespect for human life. In the course of her speech she encouraged people, even children, to see the value of each life and to make a statement for the sanctity of life in some way.
Other winners in the contest include Danielle Quesinberry, a freshman from Sevier County, Justin Brown, a junior from Knox County and Drew Martin, a senior from Sumner County.
Due to national contest rules, only upperclassmen are eligible to advance to the National Right to Life Jane B. Thompson Oratory Contest. As a result, Tennessee will be represented by Justin Brown, winner of the Knox County contest.
“I hope to persuade you to look at abortion not just as a women’s issue, but as a men’s issue, too,” Justin urged in effectively carrying his theme to a third place finish. Passionately pro-life, the 17-year-old plans to share his speech in local churches in order to inform his community of the importance of pro-life issues.
While at the state oratory contest, Justin also met Karen Brukardt, legislative liaison to the General Assembly for Tennessee RTL, and has plans to shadow her during the next session. “I’ll be visiting with Mrs. Brukardt at the General Assembly next year to learn more about pro-life issues in our state and how I can be a part of the political process,” Justin says. He has already begun researching SJR 127, a resolution that will appear as Amendment 1 on the election ballot in November of 2014, and is making plans to work on the “Yes on 1” campaign in Tennessee. Next year he will be old enough to vote and Justin is looking forward to helping make this positive change in the state Constitution.
On April 10, 2013, the Tennessee State House officially recognized the TRL student contest with passage of House Resolution 64, an honorary resolution commending the hundreds of student participants in the event since 2000. “I am proud to present this resolution in honor of the pro-life students in Tennessee. You are future leaders of our state and with you, that future looks very hopeful for the unborn,” stated state Representative Courtney Rogers (R-Goodlettsville.)
Representative Rogers was pleased to be at the oratory contest to present the resolution and to see fellow Sumner County resident, Drew Martin, compete in the final round.