Abortion essay is one of the most controversial essays students are ever asked to write. The debate around the issue is so sensitive that professors sometimes discourage students from choosing an abortion essay topic for their open topic essay. Students, on the other hand, argue for their point with so much vigor that it no longer looks like a scientific and impartial academic writing.
Thus, my recommendation is to approach writing an abortion essay with the readiness to do scrupulous research and challenge your own beliefs.
This article will
- explain how to approach writing depending on the type of your essay
- suggest interesting abortion essay topics forcing you to go beyond the pro-choice and pro-life discourse
- advice on writing an introduction and argumentative essay thesis
Read on to get fully equipped to write an excellent abortion essay.
Understanding Essay Type and Focus
Much of academic writing success depends on how well you understand the peculiarities of essay types. They guide your research efforts, determine the structure of an essay, and inform the creation of a thesis statement.
Here are the essay types suitable for essays on abortion and tips on how to write them:
An argumentative essay is the most common essay type for the topic. Here, after a short lead-in, you should include an abortion argumentative essay thesis. The later should clearly show your position on abortions: either it is a fundamental right of a woman and should be allowed, or it is bad (for the reasons you name) and should be banned.
In the body paragraphs, you should provide several arguments, all supporting your position. It is also good to present a counterargument in a separate (usually fourth) paragraph. If you do, remember to refute it or say that while the counterargument is valid, the arguments for your position are still more substantial and more numerous.
Persuasive or opinion essay
A persuasive essay typically has the same structure as an argumentative one. The difference is that you may present your own ideas and do not necessarily have to back up all your statements with solid facts. Also, you may use more rhetorical appeals to persuade the readers in your point.
For a debate essay, you need to cover arguments of the opposing parties with maximum fairness and impartiality. The goal of this essay is to educate readers on the public discourse without persuading them to take this or that side.
*Note that it is also common to approach debate essays as argumentative ones associating it with debates where you also prove your point; thus, read carefully the instruction of your professors to understand what they expect to see.
Problem and solution essay
Another way to write an essay on abortion is to argue that a large number of abortions is a problem that needs to be tackled and suggest possible solutions to it.
It will be difficult to argue for abortions as a single solution. Still, it can definitely be mentioned as one of the answers to such issues as gender inequality and overpopulation.
Cause and effect essay
One topic for a cause and effect essay may be the diverse causes for choosing to abort an unborn baby or the effects of doing so for a woman, a family, medical workers involved in abortion, or society at large. Another option is analyzing the impact of the legislature that makes abortions legal or illegal.
Compare and contrast essay
In this type of essay, you may compare the past and present perception, safety, and prevalence of abortions or analyze how these differ for various cultures or countries.
Choosing an essay focus
In addition to the essay type, the focus of the abortion essay should depend on your major. Even if the professor doesn’t require this explicitly, it is logical and right for Sociology students to consider the social aspects of an issue.
Medical students might better choose a topic concerned with the impact of abortion on the physical and mental health of the population or the effect of pro/anti-abortion laws on healthcare.
Students majoring in Philosophy might look at how ethical the procedure is and how the understanding of the fetus status affects the discourse.
Abortion Essay Topics + Sources For Research
1. Is abortion morally wrong? Can it be considered equal to murder?
Here, there is a good summary of arguments for and against abortion.
See the basic ethical arguments summarised here. Here, you may read the California State University’s review of the moral reasoning of Warren and Marquis who began the history of ethical discussion of abortion.
Research whether the fetus is considered a human and how answering this question affects the abortion debate (also the focus of this research paper). Compare and contract the fetus’s legal rights to the protection of life and the mother’s rights to choose what happens to her life and her body.
2. Is abortion a taboo in modern society?
What supports and speaks against such a statement? Should it remain a taboo, or does it need to be more discussed publicly? Does public shame prevent women from making abortions?
3. Should abortions be illegal?
Consider the moral argument against abortion. Can making abortions legal and affordable increase their prevalence?
Discuss whether there are conditions, under which an abortion may be justified. Consider mother’s age, discovered disability in a fetus, viable threat to mother’s life if the pregnancy is not terminated, the term of pregnancy, the rape leading to the inception.
4. Should abortions be legal?
Consider the adverse effects of banning abortions such as an increase in back-street unsafe abortions, the number of neglected and abandoned children, the mother’s ability to support herself and other children she might have.
5. Is it right to frame the abortion discourse as pro-choice vs pro-life?
Does pro-choice vs pro-life discourse help to advocate for female rights, or on the contrary, unduly lays all the responsibility on women?
Is it possible that women can hold pro-life views and still make abortion at some stage of their lives (the statistics say each third woman does)? Unintended pregnancies do not always result from careless sexual connections, but also from the abusive relationships, unavailability of contraceptives or their failure.
Limiting the discourse to the pro-life and pro-choice arguments limit understanding of how hard this choice can be for a woman and make a woman the only one responsible for it. See this TED Talk on the topic and The Atlantic insight into how making an abortion a woman’s autonomy issue leaves no place for men in the discourse.
6. Men and abortion.
Should women necessarily disclose the fact of pregnancy and their decision to the baby’s father and ask for his permission? Can anything be done not to deny men’s right to choose whether their baby should live?
Should men refusing from unborn children and asking women to abort face legal responsibility? Should men and women bear the same moral responsibility for the choice to end a pregnancy?
Here is an exciting short book revealing men’s stories and discussing their role in decision making. And here is another article disclosing the impact of the unplanned pregnancy and abortion on men and noting the lack of research on the topic.
7. Should all the US states have the same abortion legislature?
Compare and contrast the abortion legislature in different states. Discuss how abortion laws changed over time. Try to analyze why the state now has the legislature like this: is it about the different traditions or advocacy groups?
8. Should the minor need parental consent to make an abortion?
Research how the law differs from state to state and how the abortion stigma prevents minors from disclosing pregnancy to their parents. Analyze the film Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) showing the journey of a 17-year old girl to another state to end an unintended pregnancy.
9. Abortion vs using embryos for research and IVF.
While IVF is regarded as “giving the chance of life”, while an abortion – like taking one, both procedures fall under the same moral argument. Namely, if the society bans or condemns abortions because an embryo is a human being from the day of inception, it should also prohibit using embryos for research and in vitro fertilization that causes millions of potential lives to be thrown away.
10. Doctors and Abortions.
Do doctors violate work ethics when they perform abortions or vice versa when they refuse to do so? Can doctors be allowed to refuse to engage in abortions (are “conscientious objectors”)?
Almost half of all medical students say they would like to have such opportunity; and this must-have read discusses the danger of diminishing availability of abortion providers, along with realities and harassment abortion doctors are facing. This BBC article cites the arguments of “conscientious objectors” against an unfortunate story of a woman in Chile who was refused an abortion and she had to go through 24-hour labor to give birth to a fetus that was proved unviable several weeks earlier.
How doctors’ personal views on abortion affect women? This study shows doctor’s views cause the delay in pregnancy termination and cause distress to women compromising their access to care.
What should be the consequences for doctors engaged in back-street abortions or covering up abortion at later terms?
Should insurance companies cover abortion? Should poor women be given free birth control or provided free abortion? Again, social inequality, pregnancy out of the lack or partner’s denial of contraception, and, later, emergency room entries because of trying to poison oneself or carry out an abortion at home are mentioned in this source.
11. What is the attitude to abortions in various cultures?
Guttmacher report, crf.org comparison article, and this The Guardian article seem to be the best sources to start with here. Therefore, you may dig into the research of countries where abortion laws differ the most. This website will help you navigate abortion laws and restrictions worldwide.
12. Should an aborting woman go through forced sterilization?
Consider the moral and ethical aspects of such a suggestion.
On the one hand, the risk of having no other chance to have a baby would discourage gender selection and abortions with no viable reason. After all, “unplanned” and “not a suitable time” are very misleading concepts to focus on in the world where a hurricane, a terrorist attack, or a pandemic can turn your life upside down not asking if you are ready or willing to take up this challenge.
On the other hand, if interfering this way feels not ok for you, why refusing women safe abortion might be? After all, opponents call abortions a murder and we do detain murderers.
It is morally permissible if a woman has several abortions, abandons several babies upon giving birth, or leads a lifestyle during a pregnancy that causes children to be born with major disabilities.
13. If a woman is forced to keep the baby, can she also be forced to refuse from practices that will cause disabilities to it?
There were attempts to detain pregnant women using drugs or sue them for child abuse. However, the legal system rules against the charges of abuse on the premise that there was no child (but a fetus). Here is one of the most recent of such cases showing the rationale behind the decision.
Here is a research article supporting the idea that such women should not be prosecuted, as the risk of prosecution will discourage them from seeking prenatal care services and abuse treatment. Do you agree?
14. Should China been officially condemned and opposed by the global community by forcing women to abortion?
Consider how China implemented the one-child policy and recent facts on how the state uses forced birth control, abortions, and sterilization to decrease the population of Uyghurs and other minorities.
15. What can be done to lower abortion rates?
Consider possible alternatives and what can be done to increase their effectiveness. Should the state incentivize programs aimed at lowering abortion rates?
16. Should birth control be considered as wrong as abortions?
Some birth control techniques work by preventing the implantation and development of a fertilized egg, that is do not let the conception lead to the birth of a child. If abortion is wrong, such contraception (normally believed an alternative) is wrong too. Both methods reverse the divine order and cause the issue of unborn children. Why do religions condemn both, but societies don’t? Here is a research article focusing on this phenomenon.
Abortion Essay Introduction and Thesis Statement
An introduction is an important element in the essay structure that introduces your audience to the context, grasps their attention, sets the tone of our message and, thus, leads to the key message of your essay, summarised in a thesis statement.
Here are the three best ways to begin an abortion essay:
- Emotional language and use of metaphors make writing much more vivid and compelling. Still, using such in an academic essay may not be welcome unless you are writing a persuasive speech or a response paper. If your professor is conservative regarding the use of emotional appeals, start your essay with the latest statistics – this is not a very original strategy, but the one that will never let you down.
- Start with the quote about abortions. You may cite a short quote in full; longer quotes should better be summarised and paraphrased. Below, you can find several quotes I consider the most compelling.
- If you are allowed to use emotional appeal, you may start by telling an unfortunate story from a life that would not have happened if… [the stance you are going to argue for].
- Start with making a concession that is accepting something your opponents would never believe you would.
For example, if you support the legislature of abortions, you can start with a bold phrase “Abortion is killing.” Gradually building up arguments about why abortions, just like euthanasia, is still the act of mercy and a personal choice of everyone.
Or, on the contrary, start by accepting the fact that some women may desperately want and need abortions, gradually leading to the point that the best we can do for them as a society is to help them make the right choice and cope with the consequences, not facilitate making the morally wrong one.
Here are some quotes about abortion I like best:
“[And] if we can accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”
― Mother Teresa
“I cannot understand anti-abortion arguments that centre on the sanctity of life. As a species we’ve fairly comprehensively demonstrated that we don’t believe in the sanctity of life. The shrugging acceptance of war, famine, epidemic, pain and life-long poverty shows us that, whatever we tell ourselves, we’ve made only the most feeble of efforts to really treat human life as sacred.”
― Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman
“It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
― Mother Theresa of Calcutta
When you say you can’t do something because your religion forbids it, that’s a good thing. When you say I can’t do something because YOUR religion forbids it, that’s a problem.
― Jodi Picoult, A Spark of Light
I hope I have managed to remain balanced in my coverage of abortion essay topics and sources. For I – indeed – did not mean to persuade you into taking any of the sides.
If you encountered issues surrounding abortion that you have never thought about, accepted the possibility of accepting some of the opponents’ arguments, and got more clarity about writing an abortion essay, I have my mission complete.