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11th-12th Grade Second Place Winner: Mary Purcell

Second Place Winner: Mary Purcell
The Elephant

I vividly remember unwrapping a bubble-wrapped package that my dad brought me home from a business trip to India. As I unwrapped it, I discovered an exquisitely carved wooden elephant. As I stared at it with wonder, my dad said, “Look inside.” Inside the mother-elephant’s woven stomach was a baby elephant. As I was awestruck with this beautiful gift, I remembered the genocide in our own backyard, abortion, which fails to see the preborn child inside of the mother as a unique person. Just as preborn St. John the Baptist recognized the humanity of preborn Jesus by jumping for joy in Elizabeth’s womb, so too must we help the pro-abortion peer to recognize the humanity of the preborn child today. Sharing the grave injustice of abortion requires knowledge, truth, love, and respect to show that the preborn are human beings who deserve equal protection.

A quote that emphasizes what elements conversations with pro-abortion peers should have is 1 Corinthians 16:13-14: “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Your every act should be done with love.” This quote shows the attitude in which every discussion should be made—especially the abortion debate. First, we should be on guard and study pro-life arguments so that we may understand them and effectively communicate the truth of abortion with others. Next, we must be strong, courageous warriors for the preborn and be uncompromising on the truth. Finally, in sharing the truth, every action should be done with complete love and respect of the human person.

To effectively portray the injustice of abortion, we must be knowledgeable of the pro-life position. The goal is showing the pro-abortion peer that the preborn are human. Science proves, at conception, a unique human is created with his/her own DNA. Once the pro-abortion peer sees that the preborn are human, it naturally flows that the preborn deserve equal rights. The Declaration of Independence affirms these rights saying, “all men are created equal . . . with certain unalienable Rights. . . Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Since we know based on science that the preborn are human, the Declaration of Independence shows that abortion usurps the most fundamental right of the child—the right to life.

Knowing the truth that abortion kills an innocent human requires us to share the truth that 40-50 million children in the world die from abortion each year. Once we prove that the preborn child is human, any limitations that a pro-abortion peer sets are arbitrary. I would ask my pro-abortion peer, “Do you support any restrictions on abortion?” They might draw the line at the viability of the baby outside the womb. I would use an analogy saying, “If I had a newborn baby, he/she would not be viable without an adult’s near-constant care. How is this any different than a preborn baby? Should the newborn be killed because he/she cannot survive on his/her own?” The answer is clearly no. Therefore, there is no difference between a preborn child and a newborn one. Both depend on their parents; both are human beings who deserve an equal right to life. Another way to approach viability is with an analogy: “Astronauts aren’t viable in space without air, so if you want to kill someone, take them to space and cut their airflow.” This is essentially the same as saying that a preborn baby is not viable up until approximately 21 weeks, so the baby should be able to be aborted. I would point out that it is wrong to kill both the astronaut and the baby solely because of their location.

When conversing with a pro-abortion peer, it is important to portray the truth in a respectful way. A method I like to use is the Socratic Method of asking questions. Asking question leads the other person to the truth by reasoning for themselves. For example, if a pro-abortion peer said that the preborn are not human because they are not cognizant, I might ask if it is all right to kill an incognizant person in a temporary coma. They would most likely say it is not right to kill someone in a coma. I would ask why. They might explain that even if a person is not cognizant, he still deserves a right to life. Then, I could lovingly point out that the same follows for a preborn child—he too deserves a chance at life. This approach flows naturally and is not accusatory, but respectful of the human person. Another helpful approach is analogies. If a pro-abortion peer argues that a woman has a right to do what she wants with her body, the following analogy helps. I would say to a pro-abortion peer, “Suppose I stood in an empty room and stretched my arm—no one would object. But what if I were on the edge of a cliff with someone and I stretched out my arm pushing the person to his death? This would be murder. Why? What’s the difference? The difference is that another person’s life is directly affected by my decision to stretch my arm over a cliff.” This analogy shows that we have a right to our bodies when it does not harm another person’s body. This analogy is a helpful way to show that people do not have unlimited rights to their bodies when their choice harms someone else.

We have all heard it before—the infamous line, “What about abortion in the case of rape?” Rape is a terrible injustice to women, but abortion is never the answer. Abortion does not take away the trauma from rape but furthers it as it compounds more violence to an already-violent situation. In rape, the woman is the innocent victim; however, in abortion, the woman becomes the aggressor. Once we recognize that the preborn are human beings who deserve protection, rape cannot justify killing a child.

I am always amazed at reading Luke 1:42. Why? Because in utero, St. John recognized that Jesus was in his mother’s womb and leapt for joy at knowing that his Savior was in his presence. I often wish that pro-aborts could see what St. John easily saw—Christ as a baby in the womb—who deserved just as much protection as Christ outside the womb. Another reason I love this passage is that it gives the preborn child human attributes, like jumping up and down and rejoicing and kicking. Luke 1:42 shows the humanity behind the logic. If only everyone could see the humanity of preborn Jesus as easily as St. John saw it. I can almost see little St. John jumping up and down in the womb, which refutes pro-abortion logic that the preborn are just a “clump of cells.”

I remember opening my gift of an elephant, and when my dad told me to look inside, I saw not one elephant, but two. This is essential because the crux of the abortion debate is showing that preborn children are human and deserve equal rights, so that pro-abortion peers see not one person, but two. This relates to Mary and Elizabeth as they could physically feel the babies inside them kicking and jumping for joy. If only human wombs were transparent like my elephant’s, then maybe people could visualize the logic that the preborn are human and deserve the fundamental right to life.