Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

'Every Life Has Worth And Value'

The Message photo by Tim Lilley

Right to Life of Southwest Indiana gained another fan with a national name on April 19 when former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee delivered the keynote at the organization’s 2018 banquet. Huckabee spoke to a crowd of more than 2,200 in the Old National Events Plaza in downtown Evansville. The turnout reinforced the event’s status as the largest right-to-life banquet in the country.

Huckabee called the evening’s focus a “cornerstone issue,” telling the massive crowd that he was proud and grateful to live in American because of the founding belief that every life has worth and value.

Huckabee talked about visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Israel with his then-11-year-old daughter Sarah (now known to the world as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders). He said that he watched over her shoulder as the youngster signed the guest book at the end of the visit and asked, in writing, “Why didn’t somebody do something?”

He concluded his remarks by challenging everyone in attendance to do something as part of the pro-life fight.

Executive Director Mary Ellen Van Dyke opened the banquet and introduced Bishop Joseph M. Siegel of Evansville, who offered the invocation.

2018 Oratory Scholarship Competition winner Hayley Zehner, a home-schooled student, opened the evening’s program with her winning presentation. The text appeared in the evening’s program.

Zehner noted that everyone in the room would finish the sentence “I was born to….” differently. She said that, since they became legal in the U.S. in the 1970s, approximately 60 million abortions have been performed. “We’ve taken away 60 million abilities for potential, uniqueness and marvel,” she said. “How many more lives will we allow to be robbed from us, by our own hands? How many more lives will never get the opportunity to say, ‘I was born to….’”

Right to Life presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Irish natives and journalists Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer. The husband-wife team wrote the New York Times and Amazon bestselling book “Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer.”

The pair showed a trailer for the film adaptation of their book, which they expect to be in theaters this fall. They also talked about their shock at how little the U.S. mainstream media reported on the story and prosecution of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia physician who is suspected of killing untold numbers of viable babies during what he called abortion procedures.

Gosnell is spending life in prison without parole, plus 30 year, after being convicted of three counts of murder involving babies born alive in his clinic (whom he killed after delivery), one count of involuntary manslaughter for the death of a female patient, more than 20 counts felony counts of violating Pennsylvania’s late-term abortion regulations, federal charges of operating a “pill mill” and hundreds of lesser charges.

McElhinney and McAleer remain shocked that U.S. media deemed the story not newsworthy, saying that by the time they were finished, it would be a very big story.

Jordan Duncan of Evansville and Nikea Dills of Cincinnati offered moving musical performances during the program, and Duncan sang a memorable rendition of the national anthem during the opening moments of the event.

In addition to Zehner, Right to Life also announced other honorees in oratory and art competitions. Loogootee High School senior Carson Rayhill took second place in the oratory competition. Tecumseh High School junior Faith Taylor won the Art Scholarship competition, and Mater Dei High School senior Claudia Duncan finished second.

The Elementary and Middle School Poster Contest produced the following results:

Kindergarten through Second Grade: Cecilia Mohr, second-grader at St. Philip School in Posey County, first place; Adalyn Beyer, second-grader at Resurrection School in Evansville, second place; and Lucy Mohr, kindergartener at St. Philip School, third place. Third through Fifth Grade: Olivia Niemeier, Resurrection fifth-grade, first place; Mallory Burns, fifth-grader at Niagara Elementary School, second place; and Connor O’Donohue, fourth-grader at Holy Rosary School in Evansville, third place. Sixth through eighth grade: Brynn Olivey, Resurrection seventh-grader, first place; Christian Durcholz, sixth-grader at St. John the Baptist School, Newburgh, second place; and Lindsey Boeke, Resurrection seventh-grader, third place.