I need help writing a five paragraph argumentative composition essay. The topic I picked was abortion and social responsibility. And I'm stuck. Any help?

Expert Answers
teachernoble eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Please remember to always check with your instructor for clear instructions.  When in doubt, ask for clarification.

1) For argumentative writing, your first step should be to gather credible evidence for ALL sides of the argument.  I would check with ProCon.org and then look for the evidence elsewhere.

Adding evidence will ensure that when you bring up a point, you can cite specific evidence.  Any statement without credible evidence is just an opinion.  I have attached a graphic organizer that may help you to organize your ideas.

2) The next step is to then determine which side you will be arguing for.

The side you are arguing for will then have all of your claims written out.  These are the statements that you are backing up with textual evidence from your research.  Again, it is very important that your evidence is credible.  Statistics from the government as well as published studies may be your best place to look.  Every time you make a statement, be sure to back it up with evidence using whatever format your teacher has instructed you to use.

3) Mention your thesis or main claim in the first paragraph!  Your introductory paragraph should give background and provide importance to your topic, but it is even more critical that you include your main argument here.  Usually it is the last sentence of your introductory paragraph.

4) Build your body paragraphs using your claims and counterclaims.

Your claims need to be strong and well thought-out and you need to integrate counterclaims as well.  Your counterclaims typically sound something like "While some people may believe..." and then say something against your argument.  This is when you offer a rebuttal for these counterclaims with the "however" or "but" statement.  For example, if I were arguing for the legalization of abortion I might write the following:

While some opponents of abortion may claim that it is our responsibility to uphold the rights of the unborn child, the obligation to protect the constitutional rights of the mother supersedes this.  In the case of Roe v. Wade, the court determined that any law prohibiting abortion would "violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy" (Roe v. Wade).  It is the responsibility of the American citizen to follow all laws and to fight to uphold constitutional rights.  It was determined that any intervention in a woman's decision to abort would be a direct violation of her constitutional rights to privacy.

MLA Citation:Roe v. Wade 410 U.S. 113, 93 S. Ct. 705 (1973)

In this case, you see that the counterclaim is presented and then refuted using a main claim and textual evidence with citations.

Just make sure that your claim sounds more appealing than the counterclaim.

5) Conclude with conviction!

This is the most important part.  You need to answer the question "Why do I as the reader care?"  Bring it home by restating your thesis and make it stick.  Really work the social responsibility aspect here by calling the reader to action...but remember to remain as objective as possible, so please check with your instructor to see if you can use the "I, you, we" pronouns or if you need to stay completely objective.

Good luck!

This image has been Flagged as inappropriate Click to unflag
Image (1 of 1)
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

First of all, for a really good discussion of how to write an argumentative essay, please follow the link below.  It has a great deal of very useful information.

If I were writing this essay, the first thing I would do is think about what argument I want to make.  I can think of at least two.  On the one hand, I could argue that having an abortion is consistent with the idea of social responsibility.  A woman who does not think that she can properly care for her child when it is born is, in this view, acting responsibly when she has an abortion because she does not give birth to a child who is likely to become a burden on society.  If she had the baby, it might end up on public assistance.  It might, later in life, end up in prison.  An abortion, then, helps society and is therefore a responsible action.  On the other hand, I could argue that abortions typically come about because of a lack of social responsibility.  People have a responsibility to avoid procreating until they are ready to care for a child.  If they engage in unprotected sex before this time, they are not behaving in a responsible way.  Therefore, I would argue, an abortion is generally only necessary because of irresponsible behavior.  I would say that you should pick one of these positions or come up with one of your own.

Once you have decided which side to argue, pick the two arguments that, in your mind, are the strongest points for your side.  Depending on what your teacher wants, I would suggest picking one argument from the other side as well so that you can present it and then defeat it.  However, on this point you should check with your teacher as not all teachers want this.

I would organize my essay as follows.  My first body paragraph would be a discussion of social responsibility.  I would want to define the term (unless your class has already been over this point) and discuss what it means to me.  I would need to define what social responsibility is in order to discuss how abortion relates to it.

I would then give the best argument for the other side.  I think it is important to show that you acknowledge the arguments against your point of view and that you can defeat them.  Ideally, one of your two arguments would be a response to the opposing argument that you present here.

I would then use my last two paragraphs to discuss my best arguments.  I would explicitly shoot down the other side’s argument and then present my own points.  It is, in my view, better to give the other side first and then refute it so that the last thing your reader sees is an argument for your point of view, not against it.

Again, please follow the link below for a much more in-depth discussion of how to write an argumentative essay.