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Should Abortions be Legal? : Medical / Nursing Essay Paper

Medical / Nursing Essay Paper
Paper title: Should abortions be legal?
Pages: 6
Academic level: College 
Discipline: Nursing
Paper Format: APA
Sources: 8

This set of topics and the topics on the grading forum have all been tested over time and can be successfully argued from different perspectives. Thus you need to choose a topic where you can see at least two points of view and present both points. You will have your own opinion and need to present that in Part III of your argument. If you feel so strongly about a topic that you cannot see another point of view, avoid writing about it.

Select one of the above issues and construct a 6-8 page argument in which you use the following format. Your paper will have three parts: Thesis, Anti-thesis, and Synthesis.

1. Mark each section clearly with a section header.
2. The sources used in the two sections may overlap and need not be completely different.
3. No orphan sources: if a source is in the reference list, it must be quoted in the text, either a direct quote or paraphrased; if a source is quoted in the text, it must be in the reference list.
4. Popular websites such as Wikipedia are not considered suitable as academic sources.
6. If you do want to use articles from the Web, start with Google Scholar:
Part I: Thesis Part I is your thesis. Write a short essay (2-3 pages) taking one side or the other on the issue you select. You want to state very clearly the reasons you are taking the position you take, but you don’t have to defend it thoroughly (that’s what Part III is for).

Part II: Anti-thesis Part II is the anti-thesis. Write a critical analysis in reply (2-3 pages) to your essay in Part I by imagining that you oppose what the writer of Part I has stated. Careful reasoning is required. YOU MUST USE AT LEAST 3-5 academic/scholarly sources in the formation of this section. Remember that you are playing the “devil’s advocate,” but what every student must realize is that a sound critical thinker can argue any side of an argument because he/she is diligent and flexible in his/her thinking.

Part III: Synthesis Part III is the synthesis (about 2 pages). Revisit Part I and, taking into account all the criticisms of Part II, write a thorough defense of your position. Again, like Part II, you must use at least 3-5 academic/scholarly sources in the formation of this section.

Free Written Sample

Running Head: Should Abortions be Legal?



Should Abortions be Legal?
[Author’s Name]
[Institution’s Name]


Should Abortions be Legal?

It is almost impossible to overstate the significance of the abortion issue in the political life in the United States. Since its arrival on the public agenda in 1959, abortion has never left and it remains politically charged and morally problematic. It permeates every political arena: legislative, executive, judicial, interest group, and bureaucratic at federal/national, State, and local levels. It has claimed attention in every sort of political process: electoral, legislative, judicial and executive appointment, constitutional, political party, interest group, budgetary, administrative, federalist. It has infiltrated debates on nearly every other issue: education, welfare, sexuality, science and medical research, licensing of professionals, health care, military, foreign aid, labour, taxation. Political leaders have considered and made policy on every aspect of abortion: regulation and legalization; funding; access to services; limits on protest; family planning; reporting requirements; advertising; fetal research; parental consent and notification; spousal consent and notification. Potentially, every time the abortion issue is up for discussion it pulls in the major religious, moral, and cultural divisions of American society. No wonder it has been called the major conflict of the post-war era in the United States.

The intensity with which abortion activists explain their moral views can be sensed as soon as conversations begin. It spills over to touch every facet of abortion organizations. Every Friday, for example, a small group of middle-aged to elderly women pickets the Planned Parenthood center in Syracuse, New York -- one of many such demonstrations across the country. Encounters with such groups are always a learning experience. On a recent Friday afternoon, for example, your author parked his car on the street and started to cross the picket line to interview a Planned Parenthood counselor inside the building. He had to pass by the group.


The women were unlikely figures for a demonstration. They were dressed not in Koch-type gingham (too obvious), but in fashionable department store dresses and blouses. They held placards.

"Abortion is murder, sin. Do you agree with that?" (Nothing like starting with the basic beliefs.)
"I have complicated views on abortion," the author responded.
"Leave him alone, Mildred. He's one of them."
"Why do you say that?" the author responded. "Just because I don't agree with you wholeheartedly right. now?"
"Because you're going in there [Planned Parenthood]. And because if you're with us, then you wouldn't have to think about saying so."
"Do you think this is right?" another asked. She held up a poster showing a mutilated fetus in a trash can.

Mutilated fetuses are important displays for pro-life groups. One more anecdote helps fill out the picture. The author began several years ago inviting representatives from pro-life and pro-choice to join his seminar on "Ethics and Politics." (Randy Alcorn 2000) The students would spend several weeks reading the philosophical, legal, historical, and empirical studies of abortion. Then abortion activists would address the class. The author (or, in this case, teacher) first called the local chapters of Right to Life and Planned Parenthood at the start of his own odyssey into abortion issues some years ago. Right to Life responded with alacrity, arranging almost immediately to have a speaker address the class. Planned Parenthood was more wary.

The pro-life literature describes abortion as murder, simple and direct. In a Knights of Columbus flyer, a Diary of an Unborn Child describes (in the fetus' own imaginary words) the beginnings of existence on October 5 ("Today my life began. . . . I shall have blond hair and blue eyes. . . . .") to the abortion on December 28 ("Today my mother killed me.") The Right to Life Foundation mails literature in an envelope that has a picture of an adult human hand reaching out to a child's hand (like the hand of God about to touch Adam's hand on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel). Inside the envelopes are the latest warnings against abortions and -- the natural concomitant for pro-lifers -- euthanasia. (Randy Alcorn 2000)

Communication is not easy between groups that regard each other as totalitarian threats, on the one side, and baby murderers, on the other side. Is it possible to tell the story of abortion without the Rashomon effect? Can we cut through the intense, and often hysterical, charges and counter-charges to see abortion as it may look without the deep and deepening layers of emotion?

There are a number of views on the subject of abortion. Listen to only one of them and you are bound to misunderstand abortion. Listen even to only the first two or three and you receive a distorted account of abortion; for the fourth installment is the one that discloses how to connect the other three parts to each other. Imagine a puzzle with four parts and one of the parts is the key that tells if the three other parts are fitted together correctly.

Pro-lifers see this as the only important part, the one that controls all other features of abortion. (Sher George 1981) They believe, irrevocably, absolutely, that abortion is the murder of an innocent human being. All else in pro-life follows from this basic claim. Pro-choice has a more complex moral view. They do not see abortion as assimilable to homicide. They disagree on when life begins, and even what the issue means. They generally attach moral value to the woman's right to control her own body against state or social interference.

The law has changed several times on abortion in recent history. Abortion is now legal. (Woo, J., 1994) The Roe v. Wade ( 1973) decision by the United States Supreme Court overturned all state statutes prohibiting abortion. From the late 19th century until 1973, state law generally prohibited abortion. In the first half of the 19th century, and earlier in the common law, early abortions were legal. (Wong, M. & Cook, D. 1992)


Both pro-choice and pro-life often start their moral arguments from hard (loosely defined here as "extreme") cases. Here are three hard cases which lead people to favor legal abortion.


A 14-year-old is raped by her mother's boyfriend. The assault on the girl is so severe she suffers a hairline skull fracture and a broken arm. She undergoes therapy with a psychiatrist to restore her mental stability. Upon finding out that she is pregnant, she immediately requests and receives an abortion. She says later that "I would have gone under with a baby. I had to forget the whole thing to stay sane." (Randy Alcorn 2000)


A woman married seven years discovers she has multiple sclerosis. She stops using birth control pills because they aggravate the illness. In spite of reasonable precautions, she becomes pregnant. She has an abortion, explaining that "I cannot care for a child, and my husband cannot bear the burden alone." Both the woman and her husband are relieved and have no regrets. (James F. Bohan, 1999)


A forty-one-year-old woman with three grown children accidentally becomes pregnant. After some discussion, she and her husband accept their renewed responsibility. She undergoes an amniocentesis test at the request of her doctor. The test indicates that the unborn child has Tay-Sachs disease. The woman decides to have an abortion, explaining that "My husband and I could not bear to allow a child of ours to suffer for several years and then die." (Leslie Bonavoglia, 2001)


The appeal of cases like these is unmistakable and widespread. Public opinion polls show that most Americans favor abortion in cases where (a) the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, (b) the woman is physically handicapped, (c) the fetus suffers from a severe genetic defect, (d) the woman's health is jeopardized by the pregnancy, or (e) if the woman is a pregnant, unmarried teenager. Whether these beliefs are morally valid will be explored in a moment. But the cases do incline most people to a pro-choice conclusion. Now look at some hard cases that favor pro-life.



A woman married for six years with two children in school accidentally becomes pregnant. She and her husband are in critical stages of their careers -- he about to change jobs, and she just getting established as a real estate broker. They are financially secure, but the prospect of starting over with diapers and nursery school is appalling to them. They both decide that she should have an abortion to keep intact the style of life they are living. (Linda J. Beckman, S. Marie Harvey 1998)


A young married woman wants to have a baby with her husband, even though he is uncertain about taking on parental responsibility at this time in his life. To her delight and his surprise, she becomes pregnant. He argues with her at length and convincingly that the time is not right for them to start a family. Even though she willingly conceived, she reluctantly agrees to have an abortion.


A thirty-eight-year-old woman becomes pregnant with her lover of several years. He is pleased and starts making long-term plans for their relationship, including marriage. She is not sure she wants to make the relationship permanent. She wavers over an abortion for several months, hoping that the amniocentesis test will demonstrate a fetal defect justifying an abortion. Instead, the test indicates that no problems exist with the fetus. In her sixth month of term, she finally decides to have an abortion and finds a doctor who will perform one on her.


These three cases are hard for pro-choice to use as a basis for their arguments. Though no opinion polls have asked such questions, the reasons for aborting in these three cases do not meet the tests widely accepted for legitimate abortions. (Randy Alcorn 2000) Abortions performed (1) for convenience, (2) after consenting to pregnancy when no important impediments will interrupt carrying to term, (3) on the wishes of another (husband, lover, parents, etc.) instead of the woman, or (4) late in term when no overriding reasons of health or life exist, are not the stuff on which to build pro-choice arguments. Such abortions are cases that are more effectively used to support the pro-life point of view. (Baird, Robert M. , Stuart E. Rosenbaum 1989)

What is the reality of abortion? Who gets abortions? What are the rates of abortion across demographic and social lines? What is the pathology of abortion? And what do the politics of abortion look like now in American life? It may seem odd to include as only one part of the abortion story the realities of abortion practices. But it is precisely these realities that have been distorted by the moral and legal values infusing abortion currently. No reading of abortion is complete or accurate without an unbiased account of abortion facts.

Abortion is today one of the most difficult and divisive issues in American society. What in part makes the issue so intractable is that the moral and legal parts of the story do not fit the realities of abortion. Both sides know this, and have drawn up their own versions of the abortion story in the political arena. For all the parts to fit together, an account of morals and law must take current practices out of partisan politics and into the domain of rational discourse.

Baird, Robert M. and Stuart E. Rosenbaum. The Ethics of Abortion: Pro-life vs. Pro-choice. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1989.
James F. Bohan, The House of Atreus: Abortion as a Human Rights Issue. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1999.
Leslie Bonavoglia, ed. The Choices We Made: Twenty-five Women and Men Speak Out About Abortion. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2001.
Linda J. Beckman and S. Marie Harvey, eds., The New Civil War: The Psychology, Culture, and Politics of Abortion. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 1998.
Randy Alcorn Prolife, Answers to Prochoice Arguments. Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2000.
Sher George. "Subsidized Abortion: Moral Rights and Moral Compromise," Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 ( 1981): 361-72.
Wong, M. & Cook, D., "Shame and Its Contribution to PTSD," Journal of Traumatic Stress 5(4):557-562 (1992). 
Woo, J., "Abortion Doctor's Patients Broaden Suits," Wall Street Journal Oct 28, 1994, B12:1.


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