by Steven Ertelt
June 21, 2007
Kansas City, MO (LifeNews.com) — If the passionate speeches given by the high school juniors and seniors at the national pro-life teen oratory contest are any indication, the next generation of pro-life advocates will be a heartfelt bunch. Teenagers from across the nation gathered in Kansas City last week at the National Right to Life convention for the contest.
The oratory performances included dozens of youth from states across the country each giving a 5-7 minute speech on pro-life topics ranging from abortion to top bioethics issues.
Every year the contest presents a challenge for judges, who come from pro-life organizations nationwide and must pick between many equally talented orators.
High school senior Megan Kennedy from Hoyt, Kansas came in first place at this year’s contest with a well-written speech on the benefits of adult stem cell research.
Only days before President Bush signed an executive order promoting more effective and ethical forms of the research, Kennedy told the National Right to Life convention in her talk that those alternatives are working.
Ironically, Kansans for Life was the host of the Right to Life convention this year and the group’s executive director Mary Kay Culp told LifeNews.com she was pleased Kennedy won. As part of the award for winning, the teen presented her speech before several hundred pro-life advocates at the closing banquet.
Kennedy delivered her speech flawlessly at the convention’s closing banquet where she received the first place plaque from NRLC President Wanda Franz.
"We are thrilled that a young woman from Kansas won this important competition on this most vital of topics," Culp said.
She said she was encouraged that Kennedy focused on "the therapeutic success of human adult stem cell research, and the complete failure of such research using stem cells from embryos, even after twenty-five years of such research in animals."
Some 28 states held regional and statewide contests. State winners then participated in rounds at the convention, judged on content and delivery.
Kennedy won a $1,000 scholarship for her efforts and the second through fourth place winners won smaller scholarships as well.
Jason Byer of Florida came in second, Robbie Steiner of Indiana took home third place, and Andrew Paul Axsom of Louisiana came in fourth.
The final round judges included Chet Rucinski of Wisconsin Right to Life; Amy Pritts, a former media spokeswoman for National Right to Life; and Steven Ertelt, the editor and CEO of LifeNews.com.