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Sample Essay on Abortion: Who Chooses Between Life and Death
Abortion is one of the longest-standing debate issues today. One of the most controversial issues within this debate is when life begins and whether women should be given the privilege to determine which babies get to live or die. There are two divisions in this debate—pro-choice and pro-life. For pro-choice people, the legalization of abortion supports women’s right to take control of their bodies, particularly when they want to get pregnant, so they believe that abortion should be legal. Meanwhile, for the pro-life, abortion is the murder of unborn children and therefore should be criminalized. Although I agree that women should have agency over their bodies, I am of the opinion that this right should not include abortion and that it should be banned with only certain exceptions when saving a mother’s life. Abortion is a form of murder of unborn children and humans should not be allowed to play god and decide who gets to live or die. This argumentative essay shall prove the strength of the proposed strong thesis statement by going through three main arguments: (1) that since it is close to impossible to determine the fixed point at which life begins, the only fixed point is at conception; (2) that since life starts at conception, as explained earlier, abortion can only be considered murder, which is a crime; (3) and that no human being should be able to decide whether the life of another human should continue or cease. A rebuttal from the pro-choice camp will also be presented and evaluated, and then a counterargument shall be presented.
The landmark decision of the US Supreme Court in 1973 in Roe v. Wade established that woman’s freedom to choose to have an abortion without the government’s interference is protected by the right to privacy (“Roe v. Wade,” n.d.). According to World Population Review, the US’s abortion rate is 11.4 per 1000 women (“Abortion and Surveillance—Findings and Reports,” 2021). Rates vary per state, as abortion laws do. Some states have stricter laws while others are more lenient, which are usually based on the fetus’s viability. The reason for the variations in laws per state is the lack of consensus as to when life starts. Indeed, even the arguments between pro-life and pro-choice cannot come up with a consensus on when personhood and the right to life begin.
When Life Begins
Before the advances in science, there was a consensus that personhood begins at “the quickening” when the mother first feels the baby kick at around 20 weeks (Zhang, 2015). Thus, pregnancies were terminated prior to this without contention. However, with the technologies that allowed doctors to see the complete process of fertilization, determining the point at which life truly begins has become more complicated. Furthermore, since the technology can now support fetuses or infants born before their full term, the threshold of the fetus’s viability outside the womb has also shifted backward to earlier points of development (Zhang, 2015). According to neonatologist Edward Bell, the threshold of viability “has decreased by one week for every decade” (Zhang, 2015). Because of this, Bell also explains that scientists and doctors themselves could not come up with a consensus on when life officially begins (Zhang, 2015). The science will likely always shift, such that Bell has resigned the matter to be more appropriately determined by philosophers, theologians, and lawyers (Zhang, 2015). With this perspective from a scientist, one can say that it is categorically true that the only clear point of development in which life begins is at conception. It is the only point that is fixed and cannot be moved for it is not possible for the sperm to fertilize the egg earlier than the hours after sexual intercourse. Moreover, the fertilization of the egg is the ultimate start of the development process of the zygote. Since all other points of development tend to be arbitrary, the only fixed point of reference for the beginning of life is at conception.
Having established why it is the best to determine conception as the beginning of life, it follows as well that the right to life begins at that point. This is indicative that the zygote that has formed in the womb immediately after intercourse is considered a human being with so much potential. Thus, this determination serves as the foundation for the argument that abortion is, indeed, murder and cannot be justified with the argument that the zygote or fetus in the womb is not yet a human being.
Abortion is Murder
Having established that life begins at conception, there is, then, no point at which the zygote or the fetus is not considered a human being yet. As a human being, the fetus that has formed in the womb is then afforded the fundamental right to live. As a human being, the zygote should be treated with as much respect as every other human being. Although the zygote does not yet have the same mental faculties as fully born babies and adults, they, too, have a life and a soul. Therefore, these zygotes should not be treated as dispensable. Instead, they should be treated like any other child—as precious and full of potential.
Although zygotes do not yet look like babies or children, they should still be considered as valuable as those already born into the world. They are also human beings with so much potential that we terminate when we terminate a pregnancy. As human beings, their right to life should be protected as much as the next child or adult. As such, terminating a pregnancy is a form of murder as well. There is no point throughout the pregnancy—from conception to birth—where terminating the said pregnancy cannot be considered murder. Thus, abortion should be treated like the crime that it is and be criminalized with its perpetrators punished.
Who Decides Who Should Live
What many pro-choice proponents seem to fail to understand is that all life is precious and equal. No life should be deemed more valuable than the other in the same way that human beings should never be used as a means to an end as the Categorical Imperative states (Alvarez Manninen, 2014). Human beings are considered valuable and, therefore, no one should be able to decide to kill someone for any reason. This is the case for murder—murderers, despite the degree or motive, are always punished by law, though to varying degrees. Abortion rights are essentially giving certain people the privilege of killing off another human being. This decision is not afforded to doctors, which is why the dilemma of euthanasia is also heavily debated. Likewise, this is why capital punishment is not a common punishment in all states. Giving certain individuals this power is a dangerous move in and of itself because it gives them unwarranted power over others—a power that should only be available to the higher powers.
Humans do not have the natural power to decide whether someone else should live or not. Although we have developed the technology to cure diseases and prolong life, these are not the same as terminating a life. Those tools for curing diseases and prolonging life can only work so far, and when the person’s end arrives, none of those can stop the natural course of life from progressing. The same thing should be applied to fetuses who are found to have defects or diseases that would shorten their life. We should still give these fetuses a chance to live and let the natural order decide whether the child will survive or not. However, for another human being to decide that life must be terminated to prevent further suffering.
Rebuttal and Counterargument
What most pro-choice arguments seem to propose is that the life of the mother should take precedence over the life of an unborn child simply because they are already alive. Pro-choice proponents argue that the mother’s agency and freedom must be protected and preserved—they should not have to carry pregnancies that they do not want nor that threaten their lives. For the pro-choice, the mother’s life and control are more important than those of their child’s.
This argument is unfair to the unborn child who cannot yet protest and protect itself from murder. These children are human beings, too, like their mothers. In fact, what pro-life people wish to protect is not their freedom of choice , especially over their own bodies but the simplest and most fundamental right of all—the right to live. The fetus that has already formed in the womb is as much a human being as the next person, so they should be treated with as much value and respect and not as mere things that can easily be thrown away when unwanted. Furthermore, women are every inch human beings as men and babies, so they should not be given the privilege to decide whether a child gets to live or not. This responsibility is beyond the scope of humanity, and so should be kept away.
One of the main purposes of the law is to protect the vulnerable, and unborn children are one of those most vulnerable in our society. As long as abortion is legal, even in just a handful of states, children are unsafe. The law should protect this vulnerable population instead of condoning murder under the guise of protecting women’s freedom and bodily autonomy. These things exist and can be strengthened in many different ways, such as by strengthening the country’s healthcare system. However, allowing abortions is not a necessary element here. Thus, the law should do what it can to protect unborn children by banning abortion while also providing better healthcare for and support for mothers.
Abortion is a major political debate topic all over the world, but most especially in the United States. As of late, especially with the popularity of feminism and the pursuit of equality , discussions on abortion have shifted from the sanctity of life to women’s rights to bodily autonomy. While there is no doubt that bodily autonomy is right that women should have, this right is not more important than a child’s—even if an unborn one’s—right to live. As was discussed, it is more logical to accept that human life begins at conception. When we understand that even unborn children are human beings, it is easier to see why abortion is, in fact, a form of murder that, therefore, should be criminalized and punished.
“Abortion surveillance—Findings and reports.” (2021, Nov 22). CDCs Abortion Surveillance System FAQs . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/data_stats/abortion.htm
Alvarez Manninen, B. (2014, Mar 1). A Kantian defense of abortion rights with respect for intrauterine life. Diametros: A Journal of Philosophy, 39(2014). https://doi.org/10.13153/diam.39.2014.565
“Roe v. Wade.” (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved May 6, 2022, https://www.oyez.org/cases/1971/70-18
Zhang, S. (2015, Oct 2). Why science can’t say when a baby’s life begins. Wired. https://www.wired.com/2015/10/science-cant-say-babys-life-begins/