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Essay on Abortion: Pro-Life or Pro-Choice?

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    Abortion is one of the heaviest topics currently discussed in contemporary American politics. And it has always been a contentious issue. Even great philosophers like Plato and Aristotle weighed in on abortion, arguing its benefits and drawbacks in a democratic society. In context with today’s abortion laws, this sample argumentative paper highlights why abortion should be illegal and Roe v. Wade reversed. This sample infographic is designed to provide quantifiable data and help prepare research for papers focusing on abortion in the United States.

    STOP: Why abortion should be illegal

    The legality of abortion is a staple topic in contemporary political discourse (and it has not drawn compromise). Though the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a woman’s right to choose in its 1973 on Roe v. Wade, the issue remains a contentious topic amongst a wide array of American voters. This contention, however, is understandable and justified and has spawned an endless array of argumentative essays and debates. This is because, while deliberating this case, the Supreme Court failed to thoroughly perform its duties and, thus, its decision is unfounded. Due to this failure, the decision ought to be overturned, and abortion should be federally illegal until the court does its due diligence and produces a satisfactory and definitive ruling.

    How about a pro-life argument based in logic?

    It is important to keep in mind that every right claimed by one party implies that a separate party has a corresponding obligation to respect that right. That is to say, if Fred has a right to private property, then Joe is obliged to keep off of it unless Fred gives him permission. However, Joe might object to this; he may insist that he too has rights that must be respected. This dichotomy has been a popular subject of entry level legal and philosophical essays for ages due to their simple premise yet potential for complexity. Joe could claim, for example, that he has a right to move around freely and go where he likes and that Fred’s exclusive right to property infringes on his own freedom to go where he likes. It is apparent that Fred and Joe’s respective rights are in conflict; if Joe is obliged to respect Fred’s proprietary rights, then Joe’s right to move about as he likes will be hampered. Conversely, for Fred to respect Joe’s freedom of movement and travel, then he will have to give up his exclusive right to private property. 

    If corresponding obligations always accompany rights, and these obligations are sometimes incompatible with the rights of other people, as is the case in the example of Fred and Joe, this gives rise to the problem of determining which right wins out in the end. In the above example, since it is clearly impossible for both Fred and Joe to exercise the rights they are claiming at the same time, a judge must determine which of the two competing rights is more fundamental or deserving of respect. If it happens that the right to private property is more fundamental than the right to travel, the latter will be limited and Fred will be justified in keeping Joe off of his land. On the other hand, if the right to travel is found to be more fundamental, then Fred’s right to private property will be limited and Joe will be able to travel across it if he likes. In other words, when it happens that rights conflict with one another, it is a judge’s job to adjudicate the question of which right is more basic and rule in favor of it. 

    The right to life is most important

    Of all the rights that can possibly be claimed, an individual’s right to life is the most fundamental. According to legal philosopher Henry Shoe:

    "Rights of security and subsistence are ‘basic rights’ because they are indispensable for the enjoyment of all other rights” (Wenar).

    This means that a person’s right to life is a precondition for other rights, like private property or movement; if one is not free to not be killed, then he or she can’t be free to travel to Rome or own a car. Thus if Fred’s right to life were ever to conflict with Joe’s right to travel, Fred’s right would win out and Joe’s right would be limited. The right to be secure in one’s life, in other words, cannot be overridden in favor of a competing, less basic right. However, on the other side of the coin, pro-choice activists say no life exists and the woman has the right to choose in this case.

    With respect to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, a woman’s right to an abortion is derived from her right to privacy. According to Chief Justice Blackmun, who wrote the opinion of the court:

    The right to privacy “is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”

    It is often argued by pro-life groups that a fetus’ right to life is more fundamental than a woman’s right to privacy and that, given this, the Supreme Court ruled in error. If this is true, then it certainly seems apparent that the findings of Roe v. Wade are incorrect. In response to this, pro-choice advocates have responded that a fetus does not have a right to life and the decision to procure an abortion is every woman’s personal choice. As can be seen, both of these arguments hinge on different assumptions regarding whether or not a fetus has a right to life. 

    SCOTUS failed with Roe vs. Wade

    Unfortunately, this issue was never addressed during the deliberations of the Supreme Court during Roe v. Wade. The justices never ruled the question of whether or not a fetus has rights or whether or not these rights could overrule the rights of a woman similar to the way Fred’s rights might override Joe’s. It appears, then, that the Supreme Court did not perform its due diligence, which would have required a ruling about whether or not human beings in utero poses the same rights as other citizens. Without such a decision, it is impossible to weigh the case of the mother and the case of the fetus against each other and, until it is determined by the Supreme Court that a fetus does not have a right to life or that a woman’s right to privacy is more fundamental than a fetus’ right to life, the court ought to have suspended judgment rather than make abortion legal. The court’s hasty and under-informed ruling is devoid of rational thought regarding abortion and is solid ground for overturning the court’s original decision for pro-choice.

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    Reflecting on the rights of all abortion parties

    In conclusion, the question of abortion is a question of rights, which are claims made by individuals which often come into conflict with one another. The appropriate way for a court to resolve these conflicts is by determining which rights are more fundamental than others and rule accordingly. The Supreme Court could not possibly have made this determination since, having never ruled on the status of a fetus as a rights-bearing citizen, they could not perform an adequate comparison of different claims in the way that Fred and Joe’s rights were compared. As such, the Supreme Court did not consider all the relevant facts in deliberating Roe v. Wade, and their hasty and under-informed ruling more than justifies overturning the court’s decision.

    Works Cited 

    Wenar, Leif, "Rights", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

    Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 13 (1973). Supreme Court of the US.

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