(Editor’s note: Cara, a high-school junior, is from DeLancey and attends St. Peter’s parish in Delhi. Her speech won second place in the Walton/Delhi/Downsville-area competition of the New York State Right to Life oratory contest. One student from the area would go on to the state-level competition.)

I am going to discuss an uncomfortable and controversial subject: abortion.

I think almost everyone doesn’t want abortion to happen, and I think many pro-choicers hold to the idea that, “ I don’t like abortion, but it needs to be legal for this circumstance.”

I believe that most pro-choicers are motivated by compassion: compassion for women who are in a scary, overwhelming situation and searching for a way out. But abortion is not a way out we should ever offer. In abortion, an innocent human being is killed.

I want to briefly describe development in utero and types of abortion. The beginning of pregnancy is fertilization. This is when a new person comes into existence. The scientific term for her at this stage is “zygote.” Some people would say that the zygote is not a person, but something with the potential to become human under the right circumstances. This is inaccurate. At fertilization, she has diploid chromosomes — in a human, there are 46, whereas a sperm and egg are haploid, containing only half the chromosomes a human needs.

The zygote is genetically distinct from her parents. She already has the genetic information dictating that she is a girl and her hair color, eye color, whether she has her dad’s nose or her mom’s.

A mere three weeks later, her heart is beating. At this point, her mother might not even know she exists yet.

At 10 weeks, her other vital organs will have developed and will start functioning. She’s still in the first trimester, so in New York State, it’s legal for her to be killed. At this stage, there are two abortion methods available. In one, the mother takes a pill which keeps the uterus from providing nutrients to the baby, causing the baby to die; then another pill flushes the baby out of the uterus. In the other method, a strong vacuum is used to suck the baby out in pieces.

At this point in development, the baby is moving around, and she has tiny fingernails.

Between 13 and 24 weeks is the second trimester. At 20 weeks, her nervous system is developed enough to feel pain. The most common abortion method for this time in development involves the baby being ripped into pieces as she is taken out of the womb. She is alive as the abortionist is doing this. Keep in mind that, at 20 weeks she can feel pain, and she is not given any anesthetic.

Third-trimester abortions are not legal in New York except for “health reasons” — which is a very subjective term legally and can be used to mean almost anything.

I’m sorry that you have to hear these gory details of the abortion procedure, but this is happening every day, and the victims can’t speak in their own defense.

I’ve talked about some abortion methods and I’m sure we’re all plenty uncomfortable, but I still haven’t come back to the pro-choicers who, while they may have distaste for abortion, still believe it should be legal.

First, let’s look at the idea that, “I personally wouldn’t have one, but other people should have the choice.” There are many things this idea applies to accurately: for instance, choosing food to eat, getting a tattoo or owning a ferret. There are also things it doesn’t apply to, like murder, theft or rape.

We don’t say, “I personally would never murder someone, but other people should have the choice.” The first group are things that are subjective to you; the second are actions that are objectively morally wrong. Abortion falls into the second category.

Another common reason given for abortion staying legal is for victims of rape who became pregnant as a result. I want to be really clear: Rape is a disgusting and horrific crime and rapists should be more severely punished than they currently are in this country.

For a woman to have to carry and give birth to the child of her rapist is awful and unfair, but it is even more awful and unfair for a child to die for the crime of their father. It is a terrible violence for a woman to be raped, but the solution is not to destroy an innocent child with another act of violence.

We all have value, inherent to us as humans. It is when something does not respect a person’s value that we know it’s wrong. We know that rape is wrong because it violates a person’s body and their choice. Pro-choicers say that making abortion illegal would violate a woman’s right to her choices about her body. But it comes down to whether or not that baby in the womb is a person with the same worth and value we see in her Mom.

We all want to believe that we would have fought to end slavery, fought for women’s right to vote, fought against the Nazis. Now, when a group of humans is being denied humanity and slaughtered, we must take those nice thoughts about ourselves and turn them toward taking action against this violent act that kills hundreds of thousands every year.

Please consider finding ways to help fight abortion by voting for pro-life representatives, making donations to pro-life organizations and crisis pregnancy centers, and lobbying our current representatives to support pro-life legislation.