Saturday, April 19th, 2008
By Margie Wuebker
Local teenagers take a stand for pro-life
  Teenagers throughout Mercer County will be wearing blue April 29 as a means of increasing awareness of abortion and the number of unborn lives lost daily.
Local interest in National Pro-Life T-Shirt Day has increased dramatically since the first observance six years ago.
T-Shirt Day Chairman Angie Bertke of Maria Stein remembers ordering 500 shirts the first year and hoping youths would wear them. She and former helper Therese Homan promoted the event, resulting in a doubling of the order in a matter of several years. Today the total stands at 1,428 with all high schools in the county represented.
"This project certainly has young people speaking up for the unborn," says Ruth Rutschilling, current Mercer County Right for Life president and Bertke's latest helper. "They are walking billboards."
Katherine Garmann, a Marion Local junior, views wearing the T-shirt as a way to stand up for the unborn who don't have a voice and to show respect for life at its earliest stages.
"I am glad I go to a high school where everybody respects life," she says. "That is not always the case at schools across the country."
The shirts bear the inscription "American Life League's sixth annual Pro-Life T-Shirt Day" on the back. The front features the word "Abortion" along with three picture squares - two with developing babies marked "Growing" and the third - totally blank - labeled "Gone."
"These shirts represent what we believe," says Marion Local freshman Kelly Garman, who has participated in the National Right to Life March in Washington, D.C., and stood with other local teenagers on the sidewalk outside a Dayton abortion clinic in a pro-life display.
Boys as well as girls plunked down $2 apiece to purchase the shirts. Bertke's twin sons Luke and Jake are among the group. They especially like this year's color calling it "Marion Local blue" and admit they still wear previous shirts even though they are "St. Henry red."
"What surprises us is how the kids hang onto their shirts," Bertke says. "I've had teachers in various districts tell me a week seldom goes by without students wearing them to class."
Various organizations and individuals throughout the county support the effort.
"We're hoping everybody who sees one of these shirts will stop and think," Bertke says. "Statistics tell us more than 3,200 babies die each day as a result of abortion. Young people standing up for what they believe can make a difference."
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