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Everyday Evangelists: Teen asks Obama to change stance on abortion

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

By David Eck

ST. ANDREW DEANERY — The White House staffers who open President Barrack Obama’s mail are likely well aware of Tommy Behan’s pro-life stance.

Behan, a member of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish and a sophomore at Lakota East High School, has written the president every day since Obama’s inauguration asking him to change his position on abortion. The 16-year-old has handwritten and mailed more than 430 letters.

“His stance is the most radical pro-choice one for a president who has ever held office,” said Behan. “In the first letter I made a vow to never stop writing until he changed it or he’s out of office.”

Tommy Behan
Tommy Behan holds the letters he has received from the White House. (CT/David Eck)

The teen usually writes in the evenings. He avoids email, preferring to show his passion with the extra effort a handwritten letter requires. His parents supply the pens, paper and stamps. If Behan gets pressed for time and misses a day, he’ll write additional letters until he is caught up. The letters are sometimes mailed in batches.

Behan begins each letter by telling Obama how many times he has written before. Then the teen argues the constitutionality of abortion, talks about justice for the unborn and tells of the lives that have been lost. His stance is straightforward: Life begins at conception and comes before liberty, he said.

“I keep building on my argument,” Behan said. “It really upsets me how some people choose to have an abortion when others really want to have children.”

One of six children, Behan has seen his sister and her husband suffer miscarriages. That experience has made him more passionate and given him more resolve to try to get Obama to publicly change his position.

After about three months of writing Behan received a form letter from the White House. There have been about 17 more since. The generic replies thank him for writing and sometimes acknowledge the topic.

The teen also debated the issue in an editorial in Spark, a well-known student magazine at Lakota East.

“He’s always had a deep respect for life,” said Behan’s mother, Jude Behan. “We’re very proud of him. This was not initiated by us.”

She said her son is dedicated to the letter-writing campaign and is self-motivated.

“I think his voice is being heard, and that’s what’s important,” Jude Behan said. “The ultimate is to respect life, and for those wee little one who don’t have a voice of their own, he wants to be their voice.”

Though he is persistent, Behan doesn’t expect a personal reply or phone call from the president. He also knows the president may not change his opinion, but in the end, Behan will be pleased if he honors his vow to keep writing.

Still, the teen does hope his efforts will encourage others to follow suit and contact the president regarding abortion, at least via email.

“When I wrote the first letter, I didn’t think it would go this far at all,” Behan said. “It’s been building momentum, and it’s hard to stop now. It’s definitely a cause worth fighting for.”

David Eck can be reached at deck@catholiccincinnati.org.

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