Editor’s note. The following winning essays were written for the National Right to Life Pro-Life Essay Contest. At the senior level, grades 10–12, Clare Marie Lindgren (Michigan) took first place, Aleka Neptune (Texas) won second, and Sarah Brown (Wisconsin) won third. At the junior level, grades 7–9, Ella Stockton (Texas) won first place, Madison Grace Leurs (Texas) won second, and Sophia Madsen (South Dakota) won third.
First Place Winner at the Senior Level
Why I Am Pro-Life
By Clare Marie Lindgren of Michigan
Today, fewer and fewer people comprehend the important role that human dignity plays in the natural order of society. Modern culture, in many ways, tends to look at the human person as an object which is only good when useful or productive. The loss of this respect for human dignity has led many to question or disregard the reasons for protecting the life of the innocent and dependent. There are many reasons to be pro-life, but the primary ones concern a true understanding of life and death, the societal impact of disregard for human life, and the fundamental dignity of the human person.
To fully understand the importance and urgency of the pro-life cause one must have a true understanding of life and death. Although it mayseem obvious when life begins and ends, there are many people who falsely teach that life begins at some indefinite period after conception. However, it is a scientific fact that human life begins at conception and does not end until the heart stops beating and the brain ceases to function. The question of “quality of life” is a totally unrelated question; we are not to judge who should live or die, we are only to protect the lives of the living as best we can. Only when we understand this can we be truly pro-life.
Looking more broadly at the societal impact of disregard for human life, we see how devastating it is. When people are comfortable ignoring the slaughter of the defenseless, it will only be a matter of time until they begin to disregard human life at all stages. This leads society to become totally immune to every respect for the rights of others. The consequences of disregard for human life are destructive to every form of community.
While there are many convincing arguments that defend the right to life, the ultimate reason rests on the fundamental dignity of the human person. You don’t have to be religious to recognize that humans are not just another species of animal fighting for self-preservation.
The fact of our rational nature entitles us to the rights that claim respect from our fellow human beings. The dignity of the human person dwells in everyone, at every time, with no exceptions.
A true understanding of life and death, the societal impact of disregard for human life, and the fundamental dignity of the human person are the principle reasons why I am pro-life. It is important to remember when arguing and presenting cases for the pro-life cause that these are not just clever words and concepts; they are the defense and protection of the rights of the innocent and most vulnerable in our society. Every human being has a fundamental right to life, for without it there can be no other rights.
First Place Winner at the Junior Level
A Letter For Life
By Ella Stockton of Texas
You probably don’t remember me and that’s ok, but I am going to tell you who I am. I’m the child you never got to hold. I’m the child you didn’t want or plan for in any way. Even though I don’t know what you look like, I can picture myself holding your hand and gazing into your eyes while drifting off to sleep at night. I hope I wasn’t a burden to you when you were pregnant with me. I know I caused you a lot of trouble. I understand how hard it would have been to care for a baby at sixteen years old. I am sure you have been through more hard times in your life than I can possibly imagine. You’re probably busy with all the things that life has thrown at you, but I want to take a quick minute to say I forgive you. I know it was a hard decision. I also want to say …
I could tell you that a thousand times, but it would never compare to how I am in my heart. When you carried me in your body I know you could have taken the easy way out, but you didn’t. Instead you gave me a gift that I could never earn, buy, or borrow. You gave me a gift that so many unborn never get. You gave me life.
I have a family who adopted me, and loves, treasures, forgives, and accepts me. I know I would never have had any of that if it wasn’t for you making this hard decision.
Many people in our world take life for granted, but over the years I have realized that it doesn’t matter whether you are a child, teenager, old person, young person, born, unborn, wanted, unwanted, abled, or disabled. All life matters. It matters to me and it matters to God.
When I thought of all the mothers like you who went through pain and trouble so that a child can have life, I can confidently stand here and say, “All life is beautiful and worth the right to life.”
An adopted child