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In preparing an argumentative essay on abortion, it is recommended that one review the documents linked-to below on preparing such essays and on the controversy surrounding abortion.
One topic involve the definition of when “life” begins, as the answer to that most fundamental yet intractable of questions lies at the heart of the debate. Proponents of strictly limiting access to abortions argue that “life” begins at conception; in other words, at the moment a woman’s egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm. Some proponents of restricting abortion define conception as the formation of the fetus within the first days, weeks or months of pregnancy, up to the end of the first trimester. Some supporters of abortion rights, on the other hand, argue that a fetus does not become a viable “baby” until it can survive outside the womb. Between extremes, however, lies room for debate regarding the viability of a fetus, and this in itself provides the basis for discussions about abortion.
A second topic involves the government’s “right” or “obligation” to legislate in the area of abortion. Supporters of abortion rights have argued that a woman’s reproductive system, and her body as a whole, is entirely and solely hers, and absolutely not the provenance of the government. In contrast, many opponents of abortion argue from a theological perspective that all life – and, again, their arguments include the notion that life begins at conception – is sacred and that the unborn deserve a voice that can only be provided by government. Other opponents of abortion are not necessarily religious, but believe that many abortions, especially those that occur after the first trimester, are life-style choices that ignore the physical and developmental characteristics that are known to occur as a fetus matures, for example, the development of the brain, of fingerprints, and of facial expressions. Whether the government has a right or obligation to legislate on the issue of abortion depends upon one’s perspective, but both sides in the debate regularly appeal to government to advance their agendas.
A third topic could involve the viability of the “big three” exceptions to restrictions on abortions that many moderates advance, in effect, that pregnancies caused by rape, incest or that harm the life of the mother can morally be aborted. These exceptions are commonly advanced by supporters of restricting abortion rights, but involve considerable leeway for interpretation, for example, whether a pregnant teenager should be required to report instances of rape or incest in order to qualify for the abortion and whether the life of the mother is necessarily more important than that of the unborn child – a consideration in third-trimester and late-term abortions. To these three exceptions can be added knowledge that a baby, if allowed to develop throughout a pregnancy, will be born severely disabled, and the financial and emotional burden special-needs children can impose upon parents. Terminating a pregnancy in order to prevent the birth of a severely-disabled child can be among the most emotionally-wrenching scenarios involving discussions of abortion. Opponents of abortion rights argue that a severely-disabled baby is still a human being deserving of life, and that the parents have a moral obligation to take care of him or her, and that putting the baby up for adoption remains a viable alternative to abortion.
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