Local Pro-Life Oratory winner, state finalist named


SIDNEY — Maximilian Schmiesing, a 2021 graduate of Lehman Catholic High School, winner of the 2021 Shelby County Pro-Life Oratory contest was recently listed as a finalist in the state-level contest run by Ohio Right to Life. He had stiff competition from neighboring counties in this region of the state, however, as Gretchen Dwenger representing Auglaize County Right to Life and Joscelyn Dameron, Mercer County Right to Life came out ahead of him, taking second and third place respectively.

In the county contest, Schmiesing, son of Greg and Christina Schmiesing, of Sidney, became a two-time winner of the Shelby County Right to Life Pro-Life Oratory Contest, with this year’s speech digging into the roots of abortion which he says is “an ugly weed.” Schmiesing identifies the cultural norms of the sexual revolution as root causes of escalated abortion numbers and prescribes a remedy: healthier views of marriage, and marrying earlier in life than the current norm.

Citing the US Census Bureau, he says, “The average age of marriage back in the 1950s was approximately 22 years for men, and 20 years for women. In recent years that number has been climbing to 30 years.”

Over 80% of abortions occurring in Ohio are on women who have never been married; and women between the ages of 20 and 29 account for 60% of all abortion seekers in Ohio (see Abortion Report from the Ohio Department of Health).

Schmiesing concluded, “There’s something beautiful about building a life with someone, rather than walking into someone’s life that is already entirely put together…. about journeying together, rather than just meeting each other at the destination. Trying to understand the benefits and beauty of marriage will create side effects that will reduce the number of abortions.”

The local contest was open to high school juniors and seniors attending school in Shelby County. Becca Seger, a senior from Russia, took second place in the local contest and Cassidy Rhoades, a senior attending Christian Academy, was third. Prizes for first through third place were $500, $250 and $100, respectively. The 10 local contestants were judged by Ken Knapke, a retired medical professional; Zachary Bell, a student at Wright State University Lake Campus (in Middle School Education); and Lauren Subler, physical therapist at Preble County Medical Center.