Submitted Macon County High senior William Blankenship won the Tennessee Right to Life Oratory Contest. Blankenship (at right) is pictured along with Frances Arthur, the oratory contest chairman.

Submitted

Macon County High senior William Blankenship won the Tennessee Right to Life Oratory Contest. Blankenship (at right) is pictured along with Frances Arthur, the oratory contest chairman.

Submitted

Macon County High senior William Blankenship recently won the 19th annual Tennessee Right to Life Oratory Contest on April 28 at Nashville's Aquinas College.

There were winners from 11 participating chapters in Tennessee competing.

Each contestant researched, wrote, and presented an original 5-7 minute pro-life speech on abortion, euthanasia, infanticide, or stem-cell research.

Because he had once been in a coma, Blankenship spoke first-hand on the frightening prospect of someone else controlling whether or not he would live.

"I speak from the point of a man who has been in a coma, and who has experienced first-hand the state of being in which I heard the discussions ... as to whether or not to pull the plug rather than to keep me alive by machine," Blankenship said. "There is nothing more terrifying than not being able to say, 'I want to live. I want life.' "

The other finalists were Cheatham County senior William Shaw, sophomore Ireland Duggin (representing Rutherford County) and freshman Violet Thorne (representing Wilson County).

Blankenship will serve as the Tennessee representative at the National Right to Life Jane B. Thompson Oratory Contest, which will be held in Overland Park, Kan., on June 30.

He won Macon County's ninth annual Right to Life Oratory Contest, which was held on April 16 at Lafayette's Calvary Baptist Church.

Blankenship plans to major in criminal justice and homeland security at Austin Peay State University.

"The students who present speeches at this annual event never cease to amaze me," said Frances Arthur, oratory contest chairman. "Any of our finalists would represent Tennessee well at the national competition. Their speeches were impressive, and their delivery was impassioned. I hope that each of the county winners will be given opportunities to share their speeches again. These are our future leaders, and it is our responsibility to support them in their endeavors."