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Sixth place — High school essay contest: Alexis Martin

Alexis Martin

Thou shalt not mess with science

FFRF awarded Alexis $1,000. 

By Alexis Martin 

While living in a Catholic household and protesting on behalf of Planned Parenthood, I could never escape the discussion of religion vs. science. Every Christmas, my family and I would sit in our family room, adorned by small crosses on the banister, and watch “The Ten Commandments.” I always enjoyed spending time with my family and watching the remarkable journey of Moses, until I began to formulate questions that neither my family nor the film could answer. As I grew older, I learned that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and even princesses were all fairy tales, but how could I be so sure that Moses was not a fairy tale, too? I began to question the validity of the church’s teachings.  

Science provided me with hope that religion never could. At age 3, I survived Kawasaki disease, a very rare heart condition, and fully recovered with little damage. Whenever I ask my mother about that difficult time, she always begins with “By the grace of God . . .”  However, God did not rush me to the hospital, provide me with an emergency IV, or perform an emergency echocardiogram. God also did not diagnose me with the disease that, if left untreated for two more days, would have left my heart muscles enlarged, the rhythm of my heart wavering,  and prompted six words a parent should never hear: “You should prepare for the worst.” During that time in which I was in critical condition, I had the science behind heart monitors, IVs and my doctors’ medical degrees to thank. Unfortunately, a large portion of the U.S. population still chooses religion over science.  

Recently, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which debates the right of women to have abortions after 15 weeks. Jackson Women’s Health is the only licensed abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi and is constantly inundated by people carrying crosses and shouting “Abortion kills, Jesus saves.” The religious defense argues that once conception occurs, the embryo was created by God and should be treated as a child; however, the embryo still has no brain function at 15 weeks. Science has undoubtedly proven the fetus is not yet a person, but the Supreme Court has agreed to listen to the religious standpoint nonetheless. If religion supersedes science, this case could monumentally set back women’s reproductive rights. I trust science not only because it provides material explanations, but has also provided safe abortions to women in need and saved my life when I was 3.  

Alexis, 18, is from Reading, Pa., and attends the University of Miami.

“I am planning to double major in political science and international studies on the pre-law track,” Alexis writes. “My career goal is to become a civil rights lawyer and avid activist. I am a member of MoveOn and have participated in protests on behalf of Black Lives Matter and Pro-Choice, and want to continue to do so in college.”