Philosophy 215, 311, 318        What a FAILING essay looks like

The following essay is from 
The student who posted it says it received a B+
If you were to submit something this unfocused to me, you would receive a grade of "F"
It does not adequately address any of my basic criteria.

  • What, exactly, is the controversial issue? "Abortion" is the topic, but what about that topic is at issue here? I can't tell what problem we are addressing here.

  • Provide a clear thesis: which is the thesis? "I am for abortion" (REALLY? Who is FOR abortion?) or is it "it is important to keep the right to have an abortion intact"? (But there is no such right. At most, there is legal right to privacy, or, less likely, a right to medical services.)

  • Defending the thesis: What general standards of right and wrong are being used? If the thesis is about rights, I'd expect to see some discussion of what rights are supposed to be, and who has them, and why. If you want to keep government out of it, do you also want to keep government out of the regulation of all health care? Or do you mean you DO want government involved to protect freedom in the physician-client relationship? And if it's all about allowing individual women to make their own decision, then what is the relevance of anything said in the second and third paragraphs?

    In the Morals & Medicine course, I'd be wondering this: Is this writer a utilitarian? (Is the basis of the argument a consideration of the principles of beneficence and non-maleficence? If so, what's all this talk about rights?) In the fourth paragraph, there is an appeal to the cultural version of ethical relativism. But you can't endorse that and be a utilitarian. There is no consistent moral position offered here.

  • Compare and contrast your own position with another moral approach: The "pro-life" side is not represented until the final paragraph, when it is presented unfairly, in the most negative possible way. Always be accurate and fair when stating an opponent's position, then carefully explain where the other person is mistaken.

Abortion as a Right

Today in America those supporting and opposing abortion engage in very heated debates. I am for abortion for many reasons that I strongly believe in. Without legal abortion many women in this country would be killing or mutilating themselves. We would also have unwanted children, which leads to huge problems for families and society. Also I believe that the outlawing of abortion violates the separation of church and state. The choice to have an abortion or not, should be left up to the woman bearing the child instead of the government.

Most women who want to have abortions will not be stopped by a law. Pro-lifers say that the women that desire abortions should opt for adoption instead. These women are usually young girls who are uneducated, frightened, vulnerable, and embarrassed of their situation. They are not ready to publicly recognize their pregnancy to their parents or families to go through their entire term and then give the child up for adoption. 74% of girls who had sex before age fourteen, and 60% who had sex before age fifteen, report that it occurred involuntarily . A probability sample of women at least eighteen years old showed 84% of rape victims did not report the offense to the police. Although in both of these incidences the young woman is not consensual, they feel that they are responsible for these acts of sexual abuse. Therefore they are reluctant and ashamed to continue their pregnancy. If laws exist prohibiting abortion, many of these young girls will secretly find other ways to rid themselves of this child. These other options are either performing the abortions on one or going to an unlicensed, unregulated, abortionist. Often this leads to death or mutilation of the woman’s body.

If a woman decides to have the child and become a mother many problems may result. If the mother is a teen, she is 50% more likely to deliver a baby with a low birth weight than non-teens. If the baby survives birth that may not be the end of the dilemmas. Many times when a teen mother does not have an abortion, she will feel as though the child is a burden to her resulting in child abuse or throwing the child into the care of someone who is irresponsible or untrained. Every day in the U.S. between three and five children are murdered by a parent or caretaker. Not only would the absence of abortions have horrible effects on the unwanted children, but our society as a whole. Child abuse increases the odds of future criminality by 40%. One third of teen mothers never finish high school and nearly 80% end up on welfare. These unwanted children would add a great amount of crime to our communities and cost us a lot of money.

Our country believes in the separation of church and state. The answer to the question that is a baby alive in the womb or at a certain time in the pregnancy lies in one’s religion and philosophical beliefs. I feel that it is not the governments place to make your decision on what you believe is right. That would be too much of the state getting involved in the church to find their answer. I also feel that the woman’s body is her own, it should be her decision what to do with it. In that belief it is unfair to require a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. This violates the conventional ideas of individual rights and freedoms.

Those who oppose abortion will fight that adoption is a much better option, but many cannot even consider it because of the embarrassment of their pregnancy. Pro-lifers also feel that young women who become pregnant have been irresponsible and need to pay for their poor choices. In many cases it is not their fault that there are pregnant and carrying out the term could only lead to trouble for the mother and the unwanted child. Opposers of abortion think it is wrong to kill a fetus because it is a living soul, that decision should be left up to the woman carrying the child, not the government. Not only in order to maintain this country’s basic principles on personal freedoms, but to protect its society it is important to keep the right to have an abortion intact.