Among all hot-button topics, probably none is as inflammatory and divisive as the abortion debate. As a rule, people do not hesitate on this one. They have an answer they deem the only right one. Even as a student, when you get an assignment on the abortion dispute, you are unlikely to deliberate, “Should I write my essay from a pro-choice or pro-life position?” You know in your bones which stance you want to defend, so the only question that’s left is, “How exactly will I do that?”
In today’s post, however, I would like to invite you not to a rally but rather to a sort of reconciliation therapy. Extreme polarization and the inability to meet each other on common ground have become one of the most difficult challenges in our democratic society. As Dan Mangan and Kevin Breuninger rightly note in their piece covering the current abortion debate for the CNBC audience, this dispute has “deepened partisan divisions in a period of already intense political tribalism.” That is why I think it is vital to rethink how we approach arguments on controversial and emotionally charged topics in general and the abortion debate in particular.
Common Mistakes Found in Abortion Essays Examples
First, let’s look into the most persistent errors found in every abortion essay example, regardless of the stance. Addressing these will automatically improve your essay, whether argumentative, persuasive, or informative.
There are more than just two sides to this debate. There are pro-life feminists. There are Catholic priests that believe in woman’s autonomy and right to decide. There are people who are pro-choice currently but say that they would support an abortion ban once our society becomes more egalitarian and women are better protected. There are nuanced and very complex views on this equally complex problem. If you want your essay about abortion to resonate with your opponents, see them not as enemies but as allies that you must win over.
Truths as facts
Persuasive essays often employ emotional appeals that impress the audience but are hard to corroborate with facts or statistics. If you say that abortion will lead to a lifetime of regret, make sure you have something other than anecdotal evidence to support that. Ideally, find (or conduct!) a representative sample survey questioning women across all walks of life who had previously chosen to terminate a pregnancy. Sweeping statements that cannot be measured, such as “a woman cannot feel whole until she is a mother” or “we all value freedom above anything else,” are better be left out altogether.
Not focusing on shared values
Even on the most extreme sides of the spectrum, people can still find some common ground to start building understanding. Most abortion debate diatribes ignore this possibility. They focus on proving the opposition morally bankrupt and utterly wrong.
However, there are plenty of points on which we all can agree. For example, most people think that abortion is bad. It’s a harrowing experience no one would wish to go through. However, pro-choice supporters believe that unwanted pregnancy and forced childbirth are even worse. So, for both camps, the common ground could be:
- Decreasing the number of abortions made
- Creating an economic support net for parents
- Accessible contraception
We should make abortion unnecessary. We should strive for a world where all pregnancies are wanted, and all children come into this world loved. We all agree that a baby’s welfare depends utterly on the mother’s wiliness to nurture this life. Hence, we must unite our efforts and concentrate on medical care, education, access to contraception, equal opportunities, and many other conditions that would render abortion obsolete.
This point should be crucial for both pro-lifers who care first and foremost for the child’s welfare and for pro-choicers who care about the women bearing both the children and the financial burden of raising them. Despite the overall number of abortions steadily declining since the 90s, the share of women of lower income among those demanding a termination rose from 27% to 75%. That means the ban will hit the most those who cannot afford a child.
That is another excellent touch point. After all, 92% of Americans, regardless of gender, age, religious, or political affiliation, approve of contraception. Yet currently, only 18 out of 50 states dispense hormonal contraceptives over-the-counter. That is despite the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all confirming safety and endorsing over-the-counter access to contraceptives like pills, long-acting injections, patches, and vaginal rings. Again, the cost plays a key role. Over 40% of women would choose more reliable contraception if the price weren’t the factor.
If we believe something is true, our brain will cherry-pick data that corroborate our point of view and dismiss anything that goes against it. However, as an essay writer, you must do due diligence and research the issue from every side.
For example, pro-life supporters tend to focus on the dangers of abortion and possible complications, especially at a young age. However, they ignore the dangers of pregnancy and childbirth at the same age. Meanwhile, maternal mortality rates in the USA are the highest among all developed countries. In fact, a US woman is almost 44 times more likely to die from pregnancy and birth-related complications than from a safe medical abortion.
On the other hand, pro-choice supporters tend to focus on worst-case scenarios like pregnancies resulting from rape, child abuse, or threatening the mother’s life. However, they usually prefer not to talk about the dark side of unrestricted abortion rights, such as sex-selective abortions resulting from son preference that has led to a generation of “missing women” in China, India, Pakistan, and other countries.
Also, sometimes confirmation bias results in us accepting too quickly without verification data that are false altogether. For example, some unscrupulous “researchers” that you might want to cite intentionally misrepresent the number of deaths caused by unsafe at-home abortions in the countries where the safe procedure is illegal and cite it as the number of deaths caused by legal induced abortions in the countries where the safe procedure is accessible. Some even go as far as dividing the number of abortions by half and claiming this figure to represent the number of “women who died because of abortion,” the rationale being that half of the fetuses must be female, which is in itself inaccurate. Thus, they deliberately misinform their audience.
Statistics get manipulated, distorted, rigged, and just straight-up invented. Absolutely check the sources twice and thrice. Go to official websites such as World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Census Bureau to verify every shocking revelation you want to include in your essay.
What to Consider When Writing a ‘Why Should Abortion Be Legalized’ Essay
Going further, let us focus on some of the blind spots of essay writers seeking to support abortion rights and defend legal access to medical termination of pregnancy on demand.
Get your moral code clear
If you are pro-choice, do you also believe this choice should be completely unrestricted? Can people choose to abort a pregnancy for a career opportunity? What about cases when the child has Down syndrome? Other conditions? Do you think that gender expectations can be a legitimate reason to terminate a pregnancy? What about other things that we might be able to diagnose in the womb in the future? Neurodiversity? Sexual orientation? Eye color? Innate talents?
Do you agree there should be a point of no return? If so, what is it? Birth? Fetal movement? Fetus’ ability to feel pain? Heartbeat? Ability to survive outside the womb? W/ or w/o artificial life support?
If you defend bodily autonomy, do you also think that people are free to make decisions about their own life? Do you support euthanasia?
Search your heart for empathy
You might firmly believe that life begins at birth and no earlier. Yet expecting parents humanize their future babies from the very first moment they learn about the pregnancy. That’s why miscarriage is such a trauma for many people. The decision to abort might be the hardest choice in someone’s life. It’s great that you defend this choice, but do not diminish the loss by calling a fetus “merely a clump of cells” or “biological entity with a sophistication of a shrimp.” Biology is an undeniable fact, but we are more than our bodies. We can live in a body whose sex is different from our gender identity. We can love and care for a baby that is yet to come, even if biologically it’s barely more than a potentiality. Do not devalue the grief of losing this potentiality – even if by choice – via dismissive language.
Check your arrogance
Pro-life supporters’ concern for the babies is too often written off as manipulation. However, in their majority, the goal is not to keep women subservient and throw us all back to the 50s. Respect for life, persuasion that personhood begins at conception, and the importance of the father’s say in the matter are often very closely held and sincere beliefs. If you want to persuade your opponents, accusing them of hypocrisy and depreciating their sentiment isn’t the best strategy.
What to Consider When Writing a ‘Why Abortion Should Be Banned’ Essay
Now let’s move on to some of the weakest points in the usual arguments used by pro-life supporters seeking to defend the rights of the embryos, who deserve “protection from conception.”
Get your moral code clear
If all life is sacred, then it means ALL life. If you are pro-life, but you disregard danger to the mother due to a life-threatening condition in case of carrying to term, are you sure your judgment is free of contradiction? What is your stance on continuing life-support for brain-dead patients? Capital punishment? Stem-cell embryo research? Veganism? Animal testing? Is it indeed all life or at least all human life that concerns you? Or are you selective and limit your interest to someone else’s fetuses?
Also, one of the most heated debates rages around where we draw a line under “potential life.” A viable fetus that can survive without medical attention? With all the artificial life support the 21st century can offer? Any fetus in the womb? Any embryo (such as created via IVF but never inserted)? Any egg? Any sperm? Would you support the development of an artificial womb for gestation outside of the female body to protect both lives?
Search your heart for empathy
Too often, pro-life advocates remove the mother from the equation entirely, as if forcing her by law to carry to term solves the problem of the child’s welfare. However, unwanted pregnancy has risks not only for the mother but for the child, whom the pro-life movement strives to protect. You cannot coerce a woman to care for and protect the baby if she doesn’t desire it. Suppose she’s negligent and consumes alcohol or other substances. In that case, the child is likely to be born with severe afflictions – and it will be the child who will carry the burden of being unwanted.
So if you want your arguments to be compelling, address the mother and extend your empathy toward her. Make her seen, make her count. Instead of blaming and shaming, acknowledge the challenges and rigors she faces and will face when bringing life into this world.
Check your arrogance
If you are going to take the stance “Someone has to speak for the unborn,” you should better equip yourself. Speak to people who survived abuse and neglect as children. Speak to people in therapy who wish they had never been born because they went through their childhood unwanted and unloved or discovered as an adult they were adopted after their birth parents abandoned them. When you throw at your opponents a trite rhetorical question like, “Well, what if your mother aborted you?” be aware that some of them might as well have spent most of their lives wishing she would do exactly that.
Are you sure you are equipped to speak on behalf of the fetus better than the expectant mother whose decisions will shape the child’s life for nine months and for years after that?
Navigating this debate is emotionally taxing, but don’t let it stop you from seeking consensus and playing fair. You can prove your point without emotional blackmail and rigged statistics. I know you are better than this. I hope you will engage in any argument not to win and prove you are right but to make the world a better place.