Ohio House Speaker reverses decision, allows pro-life teen to be honored

Elisabeth Trisler speaks at the 2009 National Right to Life Oratory contest.
Elisabeth Trisler speaks at the 2009 National Right to Life Oratory contest.


The Ohio House Speaker decided on Wednesday to finally allow a pro-life teen to be honored for winning a national oratory competition with a speech on what she called the “truth” about abortion. House Speaker Armond Budish (D-Beechwood), a known supporter of abortion, had previously blocked the legislative honor from being awarded to her.

Elisabeth Trisler, an Ohio senior and former homeschooler, won the National Right to Life oratory contest in June of last year. Trisler told CNA that local state Representative John Adams (R-Sydney) had contacted her shortly following her victory and said that he would like to honor her in a resolution. “You can receive a proclamation for something you did that they think is commendable,” Trisler explained on Friday.

Though Trisler was initially “thrilled” to hear that she would receive this honor, she still hasn't received it.

Despite Rep. Adam's attempt to schedule the award presentation before the summer session ended in 2009, it was blocked and eventually canceled on every subsequent month. “I said, 'I'm tired of trying to plan around this,'” laughed Trisler. “They can just send it to me in the mail.”

What Trisler didn't know until recently, however, is why her ceremonial honor kept being canceled. Ohio Right to Life, who first drew attention to the issue last Monday, sharply criticized House Speaker Budish for preventing the proclamation, saying that his actions set a “troubling precedent.” The American Civil Liberties Union as well as a General Assembly lead by Rep. John Adams also urged the House Speaker to reconsider.

“Blocking speech because you don't like what someone is saying or what they stand for goes against the very fabric of who we are as Americans,” argued Ohio Right to Life executive director Mike Gonikadis in comments to the Columbus Dispatch on Wednesday.

Although Rep. Budish has changed his mind and will permit Trisler to receive the proclamation, he will not allow the presentation to take place on the house floor due to what believes to be the controversial nature of Trisler's speech. The Columbus Dispatch reported that the House Speaker does not want anything politically divisive associated with the honor as its generally given in response to sports teams victories, individual achievements and the like.

When CNA asked Trisler on Friday what her speech addressed, she replied, “Truth.”

“What is the truth about abortion?” she continued. Looking at “the hard, cold facts” demonstrates that abortion is “dangerous,” said Trisler.“That's what I wrote about.”

The topic, however, didn't come easy, the young orator recalled. “When I was writing the speech I kept trying to write a 'good speech'” but “the right one wasn't coming.” Finally, at around 10:30 p.m. the night before the competition, Trisler recalled saying, “Mom, I want to do a different one. She said, 'honey, do you realize what time it is?'”

Replying “that's ok – I've got all night!” to her mother, Trisler recounted how she stayed up “praying” and talking over ideas with her sister before finding the topic that she wanted to discuss. Commenting on the competition itself, Trisler remarked, “all I can say is that God was really speaking through me.”

The legislative honor is expected to be given to Trisler in the upcoming weeks.

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