On June 5, Colleen McDonough of Portsmouth, NH, received the Life Lights Scholarship at a scholarship celebration at her high school in Portsmouth. Colleen wrote the winning essay which garnered her the prestigious award. She received this acknowledgement in the presence of classmates, faculty, staff, and family at Portsmouth High School. Fr. Christian Tutor, Education Trust Chairman, and the ETF Board, Sister Mary Rose Reddy, DMML, and Susan Clifton, RN presented the certificate and check for $500.00. Colleen’s winning essay can be read below:

With every conversation about abortion, the denial of human life is the most striking argument I hear. At my age, the entire issue is rooted in media from Planned Parenthood and other abortion supporters. Teenagers are told abortion is harmless and no big deal. Well the 323,999 babies killed by just Planned Parenthood in the last year would say otherwise if given the chance (Students for Life). My discussions with other young people enforce the need for the young pro-life community to speak up.

My first involvement with the pro-life movement was in middle school when my current youth minister offered to bring teens to pray in front of the local abortion clinic. I ended up being the only teenager there with a large group of adults and older people from my parish. Prior to that summer morning I was unaware of the tragedy plaguing our town and our world, making so many women feel hopeless. No one had ever even pointed out the building where surgical abortions happen twice a week right in the middle of the small town of Greenland. While trying to follow along with the prayers I watched a big truck pull into the driveway of the clinic, blocking the way in or out. A man jumped out of the driver’s seat and began yelling at the 40 Days for Life leaders. All I can remember five years later was him shouting about his niece being raped at a young age and abortion being her only choice. My heart broke for this man as he defended a decision he knew was wrong. The emotional damage this uncle expressed is what made me beg my next youth minister to take us there the following year, and eventually led to my involvement in the pro-life movement.

Because of my generation’s focus on social media, their views are being heavily and negatively influenced away from the truth. The problem will not be fixed overnight, in a few months, or even a few years, but will take time to reverse the damage done by those in the abortion industry. The problem is not necessarily in the industry itself, but in the distress they create When I go out to pray at the local abortion clinic I have encountered a man that depicts the popular social view held around abortion. He often comes home in his big white truck while I am on the sidewalk. I made the mistake of looking across the street when I heard the car door, only to find a grown man holding up his middle finger to me. After witnessing his hatred towards us a few times I became accustomed to keeping my eyes down and praying for him. One afternoon, when praying the pro-life rosary was a routine, I heard a noise across the street. Not his door closing, but the sound of someone walking. He went down the street where a big yellow bus came to a stop. There was another unfamiliar noise- children talking and laughing. I looked up and saw his stern face looking right in my direction as he followed his two children to the front door. I realized he was not angry at us, but rather filled with sorrow and remorse that he took out on us.

It is people like the man across the street that need help in order to stop the cruelty of abortion. One of the first steps in “solving” this problem is offering and giving comfort to those who need it most. And there is no limit to these people who need comfort. The women who regret her decision too late, the women who have not regretted their decision, the men who unwillingly lost fatherhood, and the men who know they pressed a girlfriend, wife, or friend to have one, all need comfort and counsel. When these people find comfort, many of them will be more open to speaking out against abortion. They will tell their roommates, daughters, friends, and maybe even strangers that abortion is never the only choice. It is through these conversations and the conversations already happening that abortion will come to an end.

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