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Humanities LibreTexts

2.5: Common Arguments about Abortion (Nathan Nobis and Kristina Grob)

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11 Common Arguments about Abortion Nathan Nobis and Kristina Grob 27

1 Introduction

Abortion is often in the news. In the course of writing this essay in early 2019, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri passed legislation to outlaw and criminalize abortions starting at six to eight weeks in pregnancy, with more states following. Federal law, however, generally permits abortions, so it is unclear what the legal outcome here will be.

Abortion is a political issue – with different political parties tending to have different perspectives on the issue – because abortion is a moral or ethical issue. (These two words mean the same thing).

Some believe that abortions are typically morally permissible , or not wrong , and so believe that abortions should be legal. If doing something isn’t wrong, it shouldn’t be illegal: criminalizing actions that aren’t wrong is a form of injustice.

Other believe that abortion is morally wrong, that it’s often wrong, maybe nearly always or even always .

Some people argue that even though they believe abortion is wrong, it should remain legal: after all, if every morally wrong action was illegal, we would all be in jail! Seriously though, there are many actions that are morally wrong, even really hurtful, that the government shouldn’t try to prevent or punish. (You can supply the potential examples to make the point). They might also think that, for a variety of other reasons, their personal moral views on the issues shouldn’t be made into law for all.

Others argue that abortions are wrong and should be illegal. What types of wrongdoing should be illegal? This question isn’t easy to answer: it’s abstract and general. One answer is that seriously, extremely wrong actions should be illegal . This might seem plausible, since many illegal actions are seriously wrong, but since there are other very wrong actions that shouldn’t be illegal, this answer isn’t perfect.

2 Defining “Abortion”

Abortion might personally affect you or someone you know: you or a partner, spouse, relative or friend may have had an abortion, have considered abortion, or will have an abortion. But what is an abortion? There are a number of common definitions, some of which are better and others which are worse:

Definition 1 : An abortion is the murder of an unborn baby or child .

Definition 2 : An abortion is the intentional termination of a fetus to end a pregnancy.

Definition 3: An abortion is the intentional killing of a fetus to end a pregnancy.

Definition 3 is best. We’ll explain why after we show the problems with the first two definitions.

2.1 “Murdering Babies”

Definition 1 is common with certain groups of people, but even people who think abortion is wrong should reject it.

“Murder” means “wrongful killing,” and so this definition implies that abortion is wrong by definition , which it isn’t. This definition means that to know that abortion is wrong, we’d just need to reflect on the meaning of the word, and not give any reasons to think this. Murder is wrong by definition, but to know that any particular killing is murder, we need arguments. (Compare someone who calls the death penalty murder : we know it’s killing, but is it wrongful killing? We can’t just appeal to the definition of “murder”: we need arguments that this is wrongful killing). This definition also means that someone who claims that abortion is not wrong says that “Wrongful killing is not wrong,” which makes no sense. We can even call this a “question-begging” definition, since it assumes that abortion is wrong, which can’t be assumed . So this definition is problematic, even if abortion is wrong.

Definition 1 also describes fetuses as “babies” or “children.” While people are usually free to use whatever words how they want, people can say things that are false: calling something something doesn’t mean it’s really that thing. And the beginnings of something are usually not that thing: a pile of lumber and supplies is not a house; fabric, buttons and thread are not a shirt, and an embryo or early fetus is not a baby or child. So it’s false and misleading to call embryos and early fetuses “babies” or “children.”

Defining abortion in terms of “babies” seems to again result in a “question-begging” definition that assumes that abortion is wrong, since it is widely and correctly believed that it’s wrong to kill babies. We understand, however, that it’s wrong to kill babies because we think about born babies who are conscious and feeling and have other baby-like characteristics: these are the babies we have in mind when we think about the wrongness of killing babies, not early fetuses. Describing early fetuses as “babies” characterizes them either as something they are not or, at least, assumes things that need to argued for, which is misleading, both factually (in terms of what fetuses are like) and morally (insofar as it’s assumed that the rules about how babies should be treated clearly and straightforwardly apply to, say, embryos).

Part of the problem with this definition is that terms like “babies” and “children” encourage strong emotional responses. Babies and children are associated with value-laden terms such as innocence , vulnerability , preciousness , cuteness , and more. When we refer to unborn human beings as fetuses , some people become defensive because they see the word “fetus” as cold and sterile. But “fetus” is merely a helpful, and accurate, name for a stage of development, as is “baby,” “child,” “adolescent,” and “adult.” Distinguishing different stages of human development doesn’t commit anyone to a position on abortion, but it does help us understand what an abortion is .

In sum, defining abortion in terms of “murdering babies” is a bad definition: it misleads and assumes things it shouldn’t. Even those who think that abortion is wrong should not accept it.

2.2 “Termination”

The second definition describes abortion as an intentional action. This is good since a pregnant woman does not “have an abortion” if her pregnancy ends because of, say, a car accident. And “spontaneous abortions” or miscarriages are not intentional actions that can be judged morally: they just happen.

Definitions, however, are supposed to be informative, and the vague word “termination” doesn’t inform. If someone had literally no idea what an abortion was, it would be fair for them to ask what’s exactly involved in a “termination” of a pregnancy. A discussion between persons A and B – who knows nothing about abortion – might go like this:

“There is a pregnant woman (or girl) who does not want to have a baby, a living baby, obviously. And so we are going to do something to something insider her – that is developing into that living baby – so she does not have that baby. The action we are going to do is the ‘termination.’”

“ That something inside her, developing into that living baby, it is living? ”

“Yes. It started from a living egg and sperm cell.”

“So you are making something living not living , right? That sounds like killing something, right?”

Person B’s reasoning seems correct: abortions do involve killing. The word “termination” obscures that fact and so makes for an unclear definition. This doesn’t make the definition wrong ; to “terminate” something means to end it in some way , and abortion ends the development of a fetus. But it doesn’t say how abortion ends that development and so is not ideal.

Why might someone accept this definition? Probably because they are reasoning this way:

Killing is wrong. So if abortion is killing, then it’s wrong. But I don’t believe that abortion is wrong, or I am unsure that abortion is wrong, so I don’t want to call it a ‘killing,’ since that means it’s wrong.

The problem here is the first step. Not all killing is wrong . Lots of killing is perfectly fine and raises no moral issues at all: killing mold, killing bacteria, killing plants, killing fleas, killing random cells and tissues (even ones that are human, say cheek cells or skin cells), and more. We don’t even need to observe that it’s sometimes not wrong to kill adult human beings to make the point that not all killing is wrong.

This means that it’s not problematic to define abortion in terms of “killing.” The important questions then are, “Is abortion wrongful killing, or killing that’s not wrong?” and “When, if ever, might it be wrongful killing and when, if ever, might it be permissible killing? And why ?”

2.3 “Killing”

A final definition understands abortion in terms of an intentional killing of a fetus to end a pregnancy . This definition is accurate , informative since it tells us how the fetus would be “terminated”, and morally-neutral : it doesn’t assume that the killing involved in abortions is not wrong or that it’s wrong. This is a good definition. 28

3 Why Most Abortions Occur

The Guttmacher “Fact Sheet” 29 provides an overview of the research on why abortions occur and other relevant information:

This information suggests, at least, that if women were economically better off, had better access to affordable child-care and other forms of support, and had ready access to more reliable forms of contraception, there would likely be fewer abortions.

4 Bad Arguments: “Question-Begging” Arguments & “Everyday” Arguments

We’ll now discuss some commonly given arguments about abortion that, unfortunately, are rather poor.

4.1 “Question-begging” Arguments

Many common arguments about abortion are what’s called “question-begging,” which means the reason given for the conclusion assumes that conclusion. This means that you wouldn’t accept the reason as a good reason to believe the conclusion unless you already believed that conclusion! This is circular reasoning, and arguments like this are always bad.

4.1.1 “Against” Abortion:

Many common arguments against abortion are question begging. Here are some:

Abortion – killing fetuses to end pregnancies – is wrong because:

These premises all assume that abortion is wrong. To explain:

People would believe these claims only if they already believed abortion is wrong, so these claims should not sway anyone who wants to think critically about the issues.

4.1.2 “For” Abortion:

People who think abortion should be allowed also sometimes give question-begging arguments. Here are a few:

Abortion is not wrong because:

These premises likewise assume their conclusions. To explain:

Question-begging arguments are common, on many issues – not just abortion, and they should be rejected, by everyone, always.

4.2 “Everyday” Arguments

Now we will discuss some other common arguments, that you might often hear or read about, that are also poor but often not because they are question-begging. We’ll begin with some arguments against abortion.

4.2.1 “Against” Abortion “Abortion ends a life.”

People often ask, “When does life begin?” Some people wonder if fetuses are “alive,” or when they become “life.” Some argue abortion is wrong because “life begins at conception,” whereas those who support abortion sometimes respond that “fetuses aren’t even alive!” There are a lot of debates here, and to get past them, we need to ask what is meant by alive, living or a life .

This is often considered a “deep” question, but it’s not. Consider this: are eggs (in women) alive? Are sperm cells alive? Yes to both, and so when a sperm fertilizes an egg, what results is a biologically living thing. Above, we defined abortion as a type of killing and, of course, you can only kill living things. So, yes, fetuses are alive, biologically alive , from conception: they are engaged in the types of life processes reviewed on page 1 of any biology textbook.

Some people think that fetuses being alive shows that abortion is wrong, and so they enthusiastically argue that fetuses are biologically alive. Some who think that abortion is not wrong try to argue that fetuses are not even alive. These responses suggest concern with an argument like this:

The second premise, however, is obviously false: uncontroversial examples show it. Mold, bacteria, mosquitos and plants are biologically alive, but they aren’t wrong to kill. So, just as acknowledging that abortion involves killing doesn’t mean that abortion is wrong, recognizing that biological life begins at conception doesn’t mean that abortion is wrong either.

Now, perhaps people really mean something like “morally significant life” or “life with rights,” but that’s not people what say: if that’s what they mean, they should say that. “Abortion kills babies and children.”

Classifying fetuses as babies or children obscures any potentially relevant moral differences between, say, a 6-week old fetus and a 6-day old baby or 6-year old child. This claim assumes that fetuses – at any stage of development – and babies are the same sort of entity. This claim involves loaded emotional language, is inaccurate and is question-begging, as we discussed above in the section on definitions: this saying doesn’t contribute to a good argument. “Abortion is murder.”

Murder is a term for a specific kind of killing. As a moral term, it refers to especially wrongful killing. As a legal term, it refers to intentional killing that is both unlawful and malicious. Since abortion is legal in the US, most abortions cannot be legally classified as murder because they are not illegal or unlawful. Moreover, abortions don’t seem to be done with malicious intent. When people claim that abortion is murder, what they seem to mean is either that abortion should be re-classified as murder or that abortion is wrong , or both. Either way, arguments are needed to support that, not question-begging slogans. “Abortion kills innocent beings.”

Fetuses are often described as “innocent,” meaning that they have done nothing wrong to deserve being killed. Since killing anyone innocent is wrong, this suggests that abortion is wrong. “Innocence,” however, seems to be a concept that only applies to beings that can do wrong and choose not to. Since fetuses can’t do anything – they especially cannot do anything wrong that would make them “guilty” – the concept of innocence does not seem to apply to them. So saying that banning abortion would “protect the innocent” is inaccurate since abortion doesn’t kill “innocent” beings: the concept of innocence just doesn’t apply. “The Bible says abortion is wrong.”

People often appeal to religion to justify their moral views. Some say that God thinks abortion is wrong, but it’s a fair question how they might know this, especially since others claim to know that God doesn’t think that. In reply, it is sometimes said that the Bible says abortion is wrong (and that’s how we know what God thinks).

But the Bible doesn’t say that abortion is wrong: it doesn’t discuss abortion at all. There is a commandment against killing , but, as our discussion above makes clear, this requires interpretation about what and who is wrong to kill: presumably the Bible doesn’t mean that killing mold or bacteria or plants is wrong. And there are verses (Exodus 21:22-24) that, on some translations, suggest that fetuses lack the value of born persons, since penalties for damage to each differ. This coincides with common Jewish views on the issue, that the needs and rights of the mother outweigh any the fetus might have.

However any verses are best interpreted, they still don't show that abortion is wrong. This is because the Bible is not always a reliable guide to morality, since there are troubling verses that seem to require killing people for trivial “crimes,” allow enslaving people (and beating them), require obeying all government officials and more. And Jesus commanded loving your neighbor as yourself, loving your enemies and taking care of orphans, immigrants and refugees, and offered many other moral guidelines that many people regard as false. 30 Simple moral arguments from the Bible assume that that if the Bible says an action is wrong, then it really is wrong (and if the Bible says something’s not wrong, it’s not wrong ), and both premises don’t seem to be literally true.

This all suggests that people sometimes appeal to the Bible in selective and self-serving ways: they come to the Bible with their previously-held moral assumptions and seek to find something in the Bible to justify them.

There is an interesting Biblical connection here worth mentioning though. Some argue that if women who want abortions are prevented from having them, that forces them to remain pregnant and give birth and that this is like forcing women to be like the “Good Samaritan” who went out of his way, at expense to himself, to help a stranger in great need (Luke 10:25-37). (The analogy is imperfect, as analogies always are).

The problem is in no other area of life is anyone forced to be a Good Samaritan like a pregnant woman would: e.g., you can’t be forced to donate an organ to anyone in need (even to your child or parent); you can’t even be forced to donate your organs after you are dead! Nobody other than pregnant women would be forced by the government – under threat of imprisonment or worse – to use their body to help sustain someone else’s life. It is unfair to require women to be Good Samaritans but allow the rest of us to be like the “priest” and “Levite” in the story who helped nobody.

Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that laws should not be based on any particular religions. If you are not, say, a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or a Rastafarian, you probably don’t want laws based solely on one of those religion’s values. Laws should be religiously-neutral; on that we all should agree. “Abortion stops a beating heart.”

This claim, if given as an argument, assumes that stopping a beating heart is wrong . The assumption, however, is just obviously untrue: e.g., during open heart surgery, surgeons temporarily stop the patient’s heart so that repair can be made to the still heart: they would permanently stop that heart if they replace it with an artificial heart. If there were somehow an independently beating heart, attached to nobody, that heart wouldn’t be wrong to stop. Whether a heart is wrong to stop or not depends on who is around that heart and their value or rights, not anything about that heart by itself. Finally, embryos and early fetuses do not even have hearts , as critics of recent “heartbeat” bills have observed! (The heart fully develops much later in pregnancy.)

If, however, this widely expressed concern about a heartbeat isn't meant to be taken literally, but is merely a metaphor or an emotional appeal, we submit that these are inappropriate for serious issues like this one. “How would you like it if . .?”

Some ask, “How would you like it if your mother had had an abortion?” Others tell stories of how their mother almost had an abortion and how they are grateful she didn’t. Questions and stories like these sometimes persuade, but they shouldn’t. Consider some other questions:

All sorts of actions would have prevented each of our existences – if your parents had acted differently in many ways, you wouldn’t be here to entertain the question: at best, someone else would be 31 – but these actions aren’t wrong.

Some might reply that if you had been murdered as a baby, you wouldn’t be here to discuss it. True, but that baby was conscious, had feelings, and had a perspective on the world that ended in being murdered: an early fetus is not like that. We can empathetically imagine what it might have been like for that murdered child; we can’t do that with a never-been-conscious fetus, since there’s no perspective to imagine.

In sum, these are some common arguments given against abortion. They aren’t good. Everyone can do better.

4.2.2 Common Arguments “For” Abortion

Many common arguments “for” abortion are also weak. This is often because they simply don’t engage the concerns of people who oppose abortion. Consider these often-heard claims: “Women have a right to do whatever they want with their bodies . . .”

Autonomy , your ability to make decisions about matters that profoundly affect your own life, is very important: it’s a core concern in medical ethics. But autonomy has limits: your autonomy doesn’t, say, justify murdering an innocent person , which is what some claim abortion is. The slogan that “women can do what they want . .” does not engage that claim or any arguments given in its favor, so it’s inadequate. “People who oppose abortion are just trying to control women.”

They might be trying to do this. But they might be trying to ban abortion because they believe that abortion is wrong and should be illegal . Speculations about motives don’t engage or critique any arguments they might give to think that. (If you doubt that thinking critically about arguments and evidence here would do any good, do they have any better ideas that might do more good?). “Men shouldn’t make decisions about matters affecting women.”

Insofar as women profoundly disagree on these issues, some women must be making bad decisions about matters affecting women: all women can’t be correct on the issues. And some men can understand that some arguments (endorsed sometimes by both women and men) are bad arguments and give good arguments on the issues. Someone’s sex or gender has little to no bearing on whether they can make good arguments about matters that affect them or anyone else. Furthermore, the existence of transgender men who have given birth further undermines the thought that one sex or gender is apt to have more correct views here. “Women and girls will die if abortion isn’t allowed.”

This is true . However, this fact is apt to not be persuasive to some people who think that abortion is wrong: they will respond, “If someone dies because they are doing something wrong like having an abortion , that’s ‘on them,’ not those who are trying to prevent that wrong.” Observing that women will die if abortions are outlawed doesn’t engage any arguments that abortion is wrong or give much a reason to think that abortion is not wrong. Again, this type of engagement is necessary for progress on these issues.

In sum, while we agree that people who think that abortion is generally not morally wrong and should be legal are correct , they sometimes don’t offer very good reasons to think this, just like the opponents of abortion. An analysis of the more nuanced reasons in favor of abortion provided by philosophers will yield proper support for this viewpoint.

For Review and Discussion:

1. Do the reasons that people get abortions matter for its moral permissibility? Why or why not?

2. Describe the common arguments against abortion and assess them. Are they good or bad arguments? Do they make assumptions or claims that are problematic? Do the reasons provided actually provide evidence and reasons to oppose abortion?

3. Describe the common arguments for abortion and assess them. Are they good or bad arguments? Do they make assumptions or claims that are problematic? Do the reasons provided actually give evidence and reasons to support abortion?

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Key facts about the abortion debate in America

A woman receives medication to terminate her pregnancy at a reproductive health clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on June 23, 2022, the day before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion for nearly 50 years.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2022 ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade – the decision that had guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion for nearly 50 years – has shifted the legal battle over abortion to the states, with some prohibiting the procedure and others moving to safeguard it.

As the nation’s post-Roe chapter begins, here are key facts about Americans’ views on abortion, based on two Pew Research Center polls: one conducted from June 25-July 4 , just after this year’s high court ruling, and one conducted in March , before an earlier leaked draft of the opinion became public.

This analysis primarily draws from two Pew Research Center surveys, one surveying 10,441 U.S. adults conducted March 7-13, 2022, and another surveying 6,174 U.S. adults conducted June 27-July 4, 2022. Here are the questions used for the March survey , along with responses, and the questions used for the survey from June and July , along with responses.

Everyone who took part in these surveys is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories.  Read more about the ATP’s methodology .

A majority of the U.S. public disapproves of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe. About six-in-ten adults (57%) disapprove of the court’s decision that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion and that abortion laws can be set by states, including 43% who strongly disapprove, according to the summer survey. About four-in-ten (41%) approve, including 25% who strongly approve.

A bar chart showing that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade draws more strong disapproval among Democrats than strong approval among Republicans

About eight-in-ten Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (82%) disapprove of the court’s decision, including nearly two-thirds (66%) who strongly disapprove. Most Republicans and GOP leaners (70%) approve , including 48% who strongly approve.

Most women (62%) disapprove of the decision to end the federal right to an abortion. More than twice as many women strongly disapprove of the court’s decision (47%) as strongly approve of it (21%). Opinion among men is more divided: 52% disapprove (37% strongly), while 47% approve (28% strongly).

About six-in-ten Americans (62%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the summer survey – little changed since the March survey conducted just before the ruling. That includes 29% of Americans who say it should be legal in all cases and 33% who say it should be legal in most cases. About a third of U.S. adults (36%) say abortion should be illegal in all (8%) or most (28%) cases.

A line graph showing public views of abortion from 1995-2022

Generally, Americans’ views of whether abortion should be legal remained relatively unchanged in the past few years , though support fluctuated somewhat in previous decades.

Relatively few Americans take an absolutist view on the legality of abortion – either supporting or opposing it at all times, regardless of circumstances. The March survey found that support or opposition to abortion varies substantially depending on such circumstances as when an abortion takes place during a pregnancy, whether the pregnancy is life-threatening or whether a baby would have severe health problems.

While Republicans’ and Democrats’ views on the legality of abortion have long differed, the 46 percentage point partisan gap today is considerably larger than it was in the recent past, according to the survey conducted after the court’s ruling. The wider gap has been largely driven by Democrats: Today, 84% of Democrats say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, up from 72% in 2016 and 63% in 2007. Republicans’ views have shown far less change over time: Currently, 38% of Republicans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, nearly identical to the 39% who said this in 2007.

A line graph showing that the partisan gap in views of whether abortion should be legal remains wide

However, the partisan divisions over whether abortion should generally be legal tell only part of the story. According to the March survey, sizable shares of Democrats favor restrictions on abortion under certain circumstances, while majorities of Republicans favor abortion being legal in some situations , such as in cases of rape or when the pregnancy is life-threatening.

There are wide religious divides in views of whether abortion should be legal , the summer survey found. An overwhelming share of religiously unaffiliated adults (83%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do six-in-ten Catholics. Protestants are divided in their views: 48% say it should be legal in all or most cases, while 50% say it should be illegal in all or most cases. Majorities of Black Protestants (71%) and White non-evangelical Protestants (61%) take the position that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while about three-quarters of White evangelicals (73%) say it should be illegal in all (20%) or most cases (53%).

A bar chart showing that there are deep religious divisions in views of abortion

In the March survey, 72% of White evangelicals said that the statement “human life begins at conception, so a fetus is a person with rights” reflected their views extremely or very well . That’s much greater than the share of White non-evangelical Protestants (32%), Black Protestants (38%) and Catholics (44%) who said the same. Overall, 38% of Americans said that statement matched their views extremely or very well.

Catholics, meanwhile, are divided along religious and political lines in their attitudes about abortion, according to the same survey. Catholics who attend Mass regularly are among the country’s strongest opponents of abortion being legal, and they are also more likely than those who attend less frequently to believe that life begins at conception and that a fetus has rights. Catholic Republicans, meanwhile, are far more conservative on a range of abortion questions than are Catholic Democrats.

Women (66%) are more likely than men (57%) to say abortion should be legal in most or all cases, according to the survey conducted after the court’s ruling.

More than half of U.S. adults – including 60% of women and 51% of men – said in March that women should have a greater say than men in setting abortion policy . Just 3% of U.S. adults said men should have more influence over abortion policy than women, with the remainder (39%) saying women and men should have equal say.

The March survey also found that by some measures, women report being closer to the abortion issue than men . For example, women were more likely than men to say they had given “a lot” of thought to issues around abortion prior to taking the survey (40% vs. 30%). They were also considerably more likely than men to say they personally knew someone (such as a close friend, family member or themselves) who had had an abortion (66% vs. 51%) – a gender gap that was evident across age groups, political parties and religious groups.

Relatively few Americans view the morality of abortion in stark terms , the March survey found. Overall, just 7% of all U.S. adults say having an abortion is morally acceptable in all cases, and 13% say it is morally wrong in all cases. A third say that having an abortion is morally wrong in most cases, while about a quarter (24%) say it is morally acceptable in most cases. An additional 21% do not consider having an abortion a moral issue.

A table showing that there are wide religious and partisan differences in views of the morality of abortion

Among Republicans, most (68%) say that having an abortion is morally wrong either in most (48%) or all cases (20%). Only about three-in-ten Democrats (29%) hold a similar view. Instead, about four-in-ten Democrats say having an abortion is morally  acceptable  in most (32%) or all (11%) cases, while an additional 28% say it is not a moral issue. 

White evangelical Protestants overwhelmingly say having an abortion is morally wrong in most (51%) or all cases (30%). A slim majority of Catholics (53%) also view having an abortion as morally wrong, but many also say it is morally acceptable in most (24%) or all cases (4%), or that it is not a moral issue (17%). Among religiously unaffiliated Americans, about three-quarters see having an abortion as morally acceptable (45%) or not a moral issue (32%).

  • Religion & Abortion

Commodo Duis is a research analyst focusing on social and demographic research at Pew Research Center.

What the data says about abortion in the U.S.

Support for legal abortion is widespread in many countries, especially in europe, nearly a year after roe’s demise, americans’ views of abortion access increasingly vary by where they live, by more than two-to-one, americans say medication abortion should be legal in their state, most latinos say democrats care about them and work hard for their vote, far fewer say so of gop, most popular.

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Princeton Legal Journal

Princeton Legal Journal

argumentative speech on abortion

The First Amendment and the Abortion Rights Debate

Sofia Cipriano

Following Dobbs v. Jackson ’s (2022) reversal of Roe v. Wade (1973) — and the subsequent revocation of federal abortion protection — activists and scholars have begun to reconsider how to best ground abortion rights in the Constitution. In the past year, numerous Jewish rights groups have attempted to overturn state abortion bans by arguing that abortion rights are protected by various state constitutions’ free exercise clauses — and, by extension, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. While reframing the abortion rights debate as a question of religious freedom is undoubtedly strategic, the Free Exercise Clause is not the only place to locate abortion rights: the Establishment Clause also warrants further investigation. 

Roe anchored abortion rights in the right to privacy — an unenumerated right with a long history of legal recognition. In various cases spanning the past two centuries, t he Supreme Court located the right to privacy in the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments . Roe classified abortion as a fundamental right protected by strict scrutiny, meaning that states could only regulate abortion in the face of a “compelling government interest” and must narrowly tailor legislation to that end. As such, Roe ’s trimester framework prevented states from placing burdens on abortion access in the first few months of pregnancy. After the fetus crosses the viability line — the point at which the fetus can survive outside the womb  — states could pass laws regulating abortion, as the Court found that   “the potentiality of human life”  constitutes a “compelling” interest. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992) later replaced strict scrutiny with the weaker “undue burden” standard, giving states greater leeway to restrict abortion access. Dobbs v. Jackson overturned both Roe and Casey , leaving abortion regulations up to individual states. 

While Roe constituted an essential step forward in terms of abortion rights, weaknesses in its argumentation made it more susceptible to attacks by skeptics of substantive due process. Roe argues that the unenumerated right to abortion is implied by the unenumerated right to privacy — a chain of logic which twice removes abortion rights from the Constitution’s language. Moreover, Roe’s trimester framework was unclear and flawed from the beginning, lacking substantial scientific rationale. As medicine becomes more and more advanced, the arbitrariness of the viability line has grown increasingly apparent.  

As abortion rights supporters have looked for alternative constitutional justifications for abortion rights, the First Amendment has become increasingly more visible. Certain religious groups — particularly Jewish groups — have argued that they have a right to abortion care. In Generation to Generation Inc v. Florida , a religious rights group argued that Florida’s abortion ban (HB 5) constituted a violation of the Florida State Constitution: “In Jewish law, abortion is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the woman, or for many other reasons not permitted under the Act. As such, the Act prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion and thus violates their privacy rights and religious freedom.” Similar cases have arisen in Indiana and Texas. Absent constitutional protection of abortion rights, the Christian religious majorities in many states may unjustly impose their moral and ethical code on other groups, implying an unconstitutional religious hierarchy. 

Cases like Generation to Generation Inc v. Florida may also trigger heightened scrutiny status in higher courts; The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993) places strict scrutiny on cases which “burden any aspect of religious observance or practice.”

But framing the issue as one of Free Exercise does not interact with major objections to abortion rights. Anti-abortion advocates contend that abortion is tantamount to murder. An anti-abortion advocate may argue that just as religious rituals involving human sacrifice are illegal, so abortion ought to be illegal. Anti-abortion advocates may be able to argue that abortion bans hold up against strict scrutiny since “preserving potential life” constitutes a “compelling interest.”

The question of when life begins—which is fundamentally a moral and religious question—is both essential to the abortion debate and often ignored by left-leaning activists. For select Christian advocacy groups (as well as other anti-abortion groups) who believe that life begins at conception, abortion bans are a deeply moral issue. Abortion bans which operate under the logic that abortion is murder essentially legislate a definition of when life begins, which is problematic from a First Amendment perspective; the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prevents the government from intervening in religious debates. While numerous legal thinkers have associated the abortion debate with the First Amendment, this argument has not been fully litigated. As an amicus brief filed in Dobbs by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Center for Inquiry, and American Atheists  points out, anti-abortion rhetoric is explicitly religious: “There is hardly a secular veil to the religious intent and positions of individuals, churches, and state actors in their attempts to limit access to abortion.” Justice Stevens located a similar issue with anti-abortion rhetoric in his concurring opinion in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989) , stating: “I am persuaded that the absence of any secular purpose for the legislative declarations that life begins at conception and that conception occurs at fertilization makes the relevant portion of the preamble invalid under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution.” Judges who justify their judicial decisions on abortion using similar rhetoric blur the line between church and state. 

Framing the abortion debate around religious freedom would thus address the two main categories of arguments made by anti-abortion activists: arguments centered around issues with substantive due process and moral objections to abortion. 

Conservatives may maintain, however, that legalizing abortion on the federal level is an Establishment Clause violation to begin with, since the government would essentially be imposing a federal position on abortion. Many anti-abortion advocates favor leaving abortion rights up to individual states. However, in the absence of recognized federal, constitutional protection of abortion rights, states will ban abortion. Protecting religious freedom of the individual is of the utmost importance  — the United States government must actively intervene in order to uphold the line between church and state. Protecting abortion rights would allow everyone in the United States to act in accordance with their own moral and religious perspectives on abortion. 

Reframing the abortion rights debate as a question of religious freedom is the most viable path forward. Anchoring abortion rights in the Establishment Clause would ensure Americans have the right to maintain their own personal and religious beliefs regarding the question of when life begins. In the short term, however, litigants could take advantage of Establishment Clauses in state constitutions. Yet, given the swing of the Court towards expanding religious freedom protections at the time of writing, Free Exercise arguments may prove better at securing citizens a right to an abortion. 

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Abortion Is About Freedom, Not Just Privacy

argumentative speech on abortion

By Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

A clinic entrance is defended by supporters of legal abortion.

It wasn’t a protest, but a defense against a protest. For much of 1989, the year I turned seventeen, I would wake up on Saturdays, at around 6 A.M ., and head to a local abortion clinic. The clinics in Buffalo, New York, where I lived, had recently become ground zero in the battle over abortion. Each day, anti-abortion protesters showed up, armed with signs showing images of what they claimed were aborted fetuses, and tried to blockade the clinic doors to prevent clients from entering. Our counter-protest aimed to get there first, and to form a moving picket that kept the protesters away and allowed clients to pass through.

By the end of the eighties, the war against abortion was in full swing. It had been revitalized by Reagan’s rise and the platform that his Presidency provided for a growing evangelical right. Gaudy televangelists decried “feminazis” and argued that abortion threatened women’s traditional roles as caretakers and mothers. A street movement of anti-abortion activists engaged in intimidation tactics, attempting to stop women from entering clinics. In upstate New York, the most prominent activist group was called Operation Rescue. Randall Terry, a former used-car salesman who became a born-again Christian in the nineteen-seventies, led it. Terry likened his crusade to the civil-rights movement and welcomed comparisons between himself and Martin Luther King, Jr. In an interview in 1989, he remarked , “The blacks were demonstrating for their own rights, and we are rescuing other people and standing up for babies’ rights. . . . There can be absolutely no compromise on this, any more than there was compromise on whether white southerners should have slaves.”

Failing to persuade women through conventional forms of protest, the anti-abortion right adopted increasingly violent tactics. In 1989, Terry said, “I believe in the use of force.” He added, adopting a more moderate tone, “I think to destroy abortion facilities at this time is counterproductive because the American public has an adverse reaction to what it sees as violence.” But the inflammatory rhetoric of Terry and the right in describing fetal tissue as “unborn babies” justified in the minds of protesters the growing use of force. According to Susan Faludi’s classic book “ Backlash ,” “between 1977 and 1989, seventy-seven family-planning clinics were torched or bombed (in at least seven cases during working hours, with employees and patients inside), a hundred and seventeen were targets of arson, two hundred and fifty received bomb threats, two hundred and thirty-one were invaded, and two hundred and twenty-four vandalized.” According to the Times , men opposed to abortion killed at least eleven people, including abortion providers, at clinics between 1993 and 2015.

A few months before my seventeenth birthday, my mother bought me a subscription to Seventeen magazine. It seemed an odd choice, given its conventional makeup ads and utterly normative portraits of white girls. I was in the midst of coming out as a lesbian and found the whole thing jarring. But, in the mix of ads and grooming tips, there were articles that captured my attention, including one about the erosion of rights for teen-agers. A small sidebar noted, as an example, that teen-agers were required to get parental consent before receiving an abortion. The issue struck me viscerally. I had been fighting constantly with my father and stepmother about curfews, smoking, and the socialists I was hanging out with. The idea that they might decide whether or not I had a baby was enraging, obliterating any notion of self-determination.

I had never thought much about abortion before, but I had thought often about pregnancy; my mother had said, almost in a whisper, that her grandmother had told her that, as soon as girls have their periods, they can’t let boys touch them. In Texas, where I had spent junior high, everyone knew that when some girls suddenly disappeared from school they were probably pregnant. During my freshman year of high school, a friend wore a coat every day until she, too, eventually disappeared. She had hidden her pregnancy for months before finally delivering a baby. It seemed to be only women and girls who suffered any consequence for pregnancy. Girls, not boys, disappeared from school. Girls, not boys, carried the weight of social stigma. Girls, not boys, had their entire lives turned upside down if they carried the pregnancy to term. It was terrifying; it was also radicalizing.

On those mornings in Buffalo, anti-abortion protesters trickled out of their cars wielding their grotesque signs. The protesters—white men accompanied by women and, in some cases, even children—yelled at patients who showed up for their appointments, saying that they were killing their babies. We chanted back, “Pro-Life, your name’s a lie, you don’t care if women die.” The clinic defenders, as we counter-protesters called ourselves, were a combination of campus activists, socialists, lesbians, and feminists—a motley crew of the Buffalo left. We had some inevitable tension with the owners of the clinic, who worried that our counter-protests might alienate patients, too. But, as the right escalated its tactics to shut clinics down, we came to feel that we were keeping the clinics open and allowing women to exercise a constitutional right.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has brought old feelings of astonishment and disgust back to the surface. The Court’s utter disregard for the rights of women and of trans and nonbinary people who have the capacity to become pregnant is shocking in the twenty-first century. In the text of the majority opinion—as, indeed, in the original 1973 Roe opinion—the rights of women as full citizens hardly seem to register.

Justice Harry Blackmun, who wrote for the Roe-affirming majority in 1973, included a brief list of the potential detriments of forcing women to carry pregnancies to term:

Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it. In other cases, as in this one, the additional difficulties and continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved.

In the recent majority opinion overturning Roe, Justice Samuel Alito makes the fantastical claim that a world hostile to pregnant women no longer exists. Alito contends that, in “many” cases, women now have access to maternity leave. (He doesn’t bother to mention that it is often unpaid.) He claims that medical care associated with pregnancy is covered by private insurance or government assistance. (He neglects to mention that many women must still pay large out-of-pocket expenses.)

Yet women should have the right to control their reproduction, not only because of the potential emotional or financial hardship but because it is a precondition to their full and free participation in our society. If women cannot dictate this most basic aspect of their being, then the Supreme Court has effectively consigned them to a distinctly secondary tier of citizenship. Alito rationalizes that the late arrival of civil rights for women makes those rights less real than if they had arrived earlier. He argues that the right to abortion, because it was enshrined only in the seventies, is not “deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition.” He seems unworried that this might actually only serve to emphasize the profound misogyny endemic throughout American history; women did not even gain the right to vote until well into the twentieth century.

The original rationale for Roe relied on arguments about privacy. Blackmun, arguing that abortion should be permitted in the first trimester, wrote, “Up to those points, the abortion decision in all its aspects is inherently, and primarily, a medical decision, and basic responsibility for it must rest with the physician.” Of course, the right to privacy is crucial in mitigating the power of the state to interfere with personal decisions. But, beyond any notion of privacy, it is also important to protect the more fundamental freedom of women to control their own bodies. Even in the 1973 decision, women’s bodily autonomy goes largely unremarked upon. J. D. Vance, who is running to become a Republican senator in Ohio, recently argued, “It’s not whether a woman should be forced to bring a child to term; it’s whether a child should be allowed to live.” But the hard truth about the reversal of Roe is that women will be forced to bring a child to term. As Betty Friedan , author of “ The Feminine Mystique ,” wrote, in 1969, “There is no freedom, no equality, no full human dignity and personhood possible for women until we assert and demand the control over our own bodies, over our own reproductive process.”

But Friedan’s vision of freedom was incomplete. Access to abortion was the bare minimum necessary for women to achieve equality in America. Real self-determination and equality could only be achieved by ending the socially and economically subordinate role of women in our society—a burden that fell heaviest on poor and working-class women of color. Women cannot be free so long as society perpetuates the expectation that they are the unpaid stewards of household labor: cooking, cleaning, child rearing, and keeping their husbands sexually satisfied. Working-class women, especially Black and brown women, were expected not only to perform this work inside their homes but to work outside their homes, too, to financially support their families. Freedom and equality could only be realized through fair and equal pay—for work at home and as part of the workforce. This also meant that society had to take seriously the provision of safe, sound, subsidized child care. Women’s rejection of their role as the central pivot in the reproduction of society put them in conflict with the rising religious right, and also with elected officials who rejected the growth of the state agencies and institutions necessary to relieve women from caretaking roles. The rising expectations of young women, fuelled by their participation in the civil-rights movement in the nineteen-sixties, erupted in the years that followed. Women demanded birth control, freedom from sterilization, and freedom to abort unwanted pregnancies. Those who seek to roll back the clock not only intend to strip women of the right to abortion but to undermine their efforts to be independent of men and the nuclear family as well.

In the twenty-first century, it is easy to be deluded that the increased presence of women, including women of color, in politics and business is evidence that women have achieved equality. The Mississippi attorney general, in arguing this year that Roe should be struck down, noted, “Sweeping policy advances now promote women’s full pursuit of both career and family.” In fact, women make up the majority of those who live in poverty in the U.S. Women make only eighty-three cents on the dollar that men earn. Broken down along lines of race and gender, the wage gap widens dramatically: Black women make sixty-four cents for every dollar made by a white man; Latinas make fifty-seven cents. Forcing women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term only adds to their economic burden. But the Supreme Court’s ruling, by ushering in a regime of forced births, will be devastating even among those who have some financial means. No woman can escape the cloud of inferiority that is necessarily attached to having no say over when and whether to be pregnant. Moreover, pregnancy itself is a physical and emotional burden that sometimes has deadly consequences. The U.S. has a higher rate of maternal mortality than Canada, the U.K., and eight other European nations. There is no equivalent medical condition imposed on men. This creates a disparity of experience and consequence in the law that is a perfect example of basic discrimination.

Life-altering poverty and potential death are, of course, the most extreme examples of what can go wrong when unintended and unwanted pregnancy is forced upon women. But the right to abortion should not only be tied to the most tragic outcomes. Newscasters trying to get anti-abortion elected officials to affirm their support of draconian restrictions even in extreme cases—such as when a “thirteen-year-old in Arkansas is raped by a relative,” an example presented to that state’s Governor, Asa Hutchinson—miss the point that abortion is a human right. The bans on abortion even in the event of rape or incest, or when the health of the mother is threatened, certainly betray the extraordinary misogyny that animates opposition to the procedure. But the right to abortion is an affirmation that women and girls have the right to control their own destiny. Without the ability to control when, where, how, and if one chooses to become pregnant or give birth, no other freedom can be achieved.

In 1992, the abortion wars came to a head in Buffalo. For months, Operation Rescue had been planning to lay siege to Buffalo abortion clinics during what they called the Spring of Life. The mayor, Jimmy Griffin , had invited them to do so, saying, “I want to see them in this city. If they can shut down one abortion mill, they’ve done their job.” It seemed like a clear indication that the police would not interfere with their efforts. Counter-protesters from around the country mobilized in the beleaguered Rust Belt city. In the end, we stopped Operation Rescue. Arrests of anti-abortion activists helped to publicize their cause, but we were able to keep the clinics in Buffalo open.

Eight years later, after I had moved to Chicago, I once again experienced the fear involved in being at an abortion clinic. This time, I was not a clinic defender but a client. In the spring of 2000, I became pregnant, after having sex with a male friend after a party at my apartment. I knew within a week that something was happening to my body: I was exhausted, and the spicy food that I usually liked to eat made me nauseated. A pregnancy test confirmed my fears. My friend and I decided to split the cost of an abortion, and my girlfriend at the time drove me to a Planned Parenthood office in Chicago. A year earlier, the office had received a letter with no return address oozing a mysterious liquid, and had been evacuated. I worried about going to the facility and being accosted by bigots and fanatics.

But, on a cold and rainy day in the middle of the week, only people working at the facility were there. The procedure was quick, not entirely painless, and then over. Driving home, I threw up on the side of the road. There was nothing tragic or extraordinary about my experience. I had unprotected sex with a friend and became pregnant. Neither of us intended to be in a relationship, let alone have a child together. I was gay and in my own relationship, and he was straight and single. We were both broke but not poor, and we were able to scrape together the three hundred dollars necessary. But, if I had been forced to carry that pregnancy to term, my life would have been forever changed. A key strategy in the fight for reproductive freedom has involved “ abortion speak-outs ,” or “shouting out your abortion”—an attempt to fight against the right’s contention that abortion is harmful, tragic, and always regretted. We should trust women, and others, to know what to do with their own bodies.

The Supreme Court’s reversal of the right to abortion has usurped the rights and freedom of people who have the capacity to become pregnant. But anyone—including lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people—whose freedoms are not directly enshrined in the Constitution could see their rights threatened. Justice Clarence Thomas minced no words when he argued, in an opinion he wrote concurring with the majority, that precedent-setting cases that used the right to privacy and due process to guarantee the legality of contraception, gay sex, and gay marriage should be next in the firing line. There is no doubt that, if Republicans gain a congressional majority and win the White House, they will try and impose a national ban on abortion. The recent flurry of attacks on trans youths’ access to prescriptions and medical care has helped to legitimize the power of the state to control the bodies of women and girls when it comes to pregnancy. We are quickly being thrust into a nightmarish web of authoritarian, theocratic rule. The right wants to assert control over an array of non-normative sexualities, family units, and ways of being in the world. And in allowing for some discrimination, largely against trans youth and athletes, the door to rank bias has now been kicked in, legitimizing all of it. Today we reap the whirlwind.

A generation ago in Buffalo, a wide range of ordinary people came together to protect access to abortion clinics. In that instance, it was clear to us how the right’s broad goals were knotted together. We understood that, if they were successful in shutting down Buffalo’s clinics through brute force, it would generate momentum for the rest of their agenda, which included attacking gays, Black women on welfare, single mothers, undocumented immigrants, and anyone else that did not fit in or conform to their narrow “family values” world view. This is a frightening new world, but we can learn from earlier eras. We can also use these renewed attacks to form the solidarity necessary to rebuild the movements that can and will challenge the right’s growing momentum. ♦

More on Abortion and Roe v. Wade

In the post-Roe era, letting pregnant patients get sicker— by design .

The study that debunks most anti-abortion arguments .

Of course the Constitution has nothing to say about abortion .

How the real Jane Roe shaped the abortion wars.

Black feminists defined abortion rights as a matter of equality, not just “choice.”

Recent data suggest that taking abortion pills at home is as safe as going to a clinic. 

When abortion is criminalized, women make desperate choices .

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By Jay Caspian Kang

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The Morning Newsletter

How Abortion Views Are Different

With the Supreme Court set to hear a major abortion case, we look at the state of public opinion.

argumentative speech on abortion

By David Leonhardt

For nearly 50 years, public opinion has had only a limited effect on abortion policy. The Roe v. Wade decision, which the Supreme Court issued in 1973, established a constitutional right to abortion in many situations and struck down restrictions in dozens of states.

But now that the court has agreed to hear a case that could lead to the overturning of Roe , voters and legislators may soon again be determining abortion laws, state by state. This morning’s newsletter offers a guide to public opinion on the subject.

Americans’ views on abortion are sufficiently complex that both sides in the debate are able to point to survey data that suggests majority opinion is on their side — and then to argue that the data friendly to their own side is the “right” data. These competing claims can be confusing. But when you dig into the data, you discover there are some clear patterns and objective truths.

Here are five.

1. A pro-Roe majority …

Polls consistently show that a majority of Americans — 60 percent to 70 percent, in recent polls by both Gallup and Pew — say they do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. Similarly, close to 60 percent of Americans say they favor abortion access in either all or most circumstances, according to Pew.

These are the numbers that abortion rights advocates often emphasize.

2. … and a pro-restriction majority

The most confounding aspect of public opinion is a contradiction between Americans’ views on Roe itself and their views on specific abortion policies: Even as most people say they support the ruling, most also say they favor restrictions that Roe does not permit .

Roe, for example, allows only limited restrictions on abortion during the second trimester, mostly involving a mother’s health. But less than 30 percent of Americans say that abortion should “generally be legal” in the second trimester, according to Gallup. Many people also oppose abortion in specific circumstances — because a fetus has Down syndrome, for example — even during the first trimester.

One sign that many Americans favor significant restrictions is in the Gallup data. Gallup uses slightly different wording from Pew, creating an option that allows people to say that abortion should be legal “in only a few” circumstances. And that is the most popular answer — with 35 percent of respondents giving it (in addition to the 20 percent who say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances).

This helps explain why many abortion rights advocates are worried that the Supreme Court will gut Roe without officially overturning it. Yes, the justices are often influenced by public opinion .

3. Remarkable stability

Opinion on some major political issues has changed substantially over the last half-century. On taxes and regulation, people’s views have ebbed and flowed. On some cultural issues — like same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization — views have moved sharply in one direction.

But opinion on abortion has barely budged . Here is Gallup’s four-category breakdown, going back to 1994:

Other survey questions show a similar pattern, with the stability stretching back to the 1970s , just after the Roe ruling.

A key reason is that abortion opinion differs only modestly by age group. Americans under 30 support abortion rights more strongly than Americans over 50, but the gap is not huge. The age gaps on marijuana legalization , same-sex marriage and climate change are all larger.

Abortion remains a vexing issue for large numbers of Americans in every generation — which suggests the debate is not likely to be resolved anytime soon.

4. A modest gender gap …

Gender plays a major role in American politics. Most women voted for Joe Biden, while most men voted for Donald Trump. On many issues, like gun control and the minimum wage , there is a large gender gap.

But the gap on abortion is not so large. If anything, it seems to be smaller than the partisan gap . That suggests, perhaps surprisingly, that there are more Democratic-voting women who favor significant abortion restrictions than Republican-voting women who favor almost universal access — while the opposite is true for men.

(One note: When people are asked whether they identify as “pro-choice” or “pro-life,” both the gender and age gaps grow. Those terms appear to prime people to think as Democrats or Republicans, rather than thinking through the details of their own policy views.)

5. … and a big class gap

One of the strongest predictors of a person’s view on abortion is educational attainment, as you can see in the chart above. Working-class Americans often favor restrictions. Many religiously observant people also favor restrictions.

It’s yet another way in which the Democratic coalition is becoming tilted toward college graduates and the Republican coalition is going in the other direction.

The bottom line

Both advocates and opponents of abortion access believe the issue is too important to be decided by public opinion. For advocates, women should have control over their bodies; after all, no major decision of men’s health is subject to a veto by politicians or other voters. And for opponents of abortion access, the life of an unborn child is too important to be subject to almost any other consideration.

If the Supreme Court overrules or substantially weakens Roe, this intense debate will play out state by state. Many states are likely to restrict abortion access substantially.

For more: Pew’s Jeff Diamant and Aleksandra Sandstrom look at opinion in each state . And The Upshot looks in detail at how and where laws may change if Roe falls .


New C.D.C. mask guidelines have Americans wondering whether they can trust one another .

Republican-controlled states are cutting off federal pandemic unemployment benefits , arguing that they are making it hard for businesses to hire.

An estimated 40 percent of doctors in India have gotten Covid, and more than 250 have died since early April.

Many New York businesses are allowed to fully reopen today . Parts of Europe are also lifting restrictions .

Virus resources: How should you think about virus variants if you’re vaccinated ?

“The future of the auto industry is electric,” President Biden said during a visit to a Ford plant in Michigan.

The House passed a bill to help law enforcement agencies review hate crimes against Asian-Americans, sending it to Biden .

New York’s attorney general joined the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal inquiry into the Trump Organization .

House Republican leaders oppose creating a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Diplomatic efforts to end the violence are gaining urgency , with the E.U., the U.N., and others calling on the Israeli military and Hamas militants to lay down their weapons.

Israeli airstrikes have damaged Gaza’s health and sewage systems and displaced tens of thousands of people, deepening a humanitarian crisis .

Biden was said to have sharpened his tone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in a private call.

Palestinians across the West Bank, Gaza and Israel went on strike .

Other Big Stories

Climate change is forcing the National Park Service to decide which species and landscapes to save — and which to let slip away.

A North Carolina prosecutor said sheriff’s deputies were “justified” in the killing of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man.

In Japan, a woman who overstayed her visa got sick and died alone in detention , causing criticism of the country’s treatment of migrants.

Darwin’s Arch, a rock formation in the Galápagos Islands, collapsed because of natural erosion .

Spain is trying a new solution for officials who can’t stop stealing: corruption rehab .

Why are people in your state not getting vaccinated ?

“To me it represents everything that is beautiful and possible”: Dr. Adam Lee Goldstein writes about his hospital near Tel Aviv, where Jews and Muslims, side by side, treat the wounded.

Morning Reads

Anonymous no more: In 1944, they were children on a train to a Nazi death camp. Researchers identified them, and they’re still alive .

A Times classic: Eight things worth your time .

Lives Lived: With deadpan comedy and Everyman good looks, Charles Grodin first drew notice on Broadway. He went on to star onscreen in “The Heartbreak Kid,” “Midnight Run” and “Beethoven.” He died at 86 .


‘shrek’ at 20.

Nobody at DreamWorks, then a relatively new animation studio, expected “Shrek” to be a hit. “Getting sent to ‘Shrek’ felt like being sent to Siberia,” the director Vicky Jenson said.

Released 20 years ago, the movie was a departure from other animated features of the time. Its hero was a misanthropic ogre. The cheeky and crude humor made fun of fairy-tale tropes. And the film was loaded with pop culture references and contemporary songs .

Yet “Shrek” went on to spawn a billion-dollar franchise and win the first Academy Award for best animated feature. It “defined the kind of films the studio would go on to make: offbeat stories that, unlike Disney fairy tales, had more of an edge to them,” as Gina Cherelus writes in The Times .

Today, Shrek-related content is ubiquitous in memes and on social media, introducing the film to a new generation . At a sushi restaurant years ago, Jenson was delighted to overhear nearby diners talking about it. “One of them says, ‘Have you seen “Shrek”?’ And the other one is like, ‘No, no, I don’t go see kids’ stuff,’ and they go: ‘No, no, it’s not for kids. You have to go see it.’” — Sanam Yar, a Morning writer


What to cook.

This fried snapper is topped with thyme-laced Creole sauce. Eat it while reading Pete Wells on New York City’s return to full-scale indoor dining.

What to Read

The mainstream narrative is that Sinead O’Connor ripped up a photo of the pope on “Saturday Night Live” and derailed her music career. She’d like to set the record straight .

Virtual Travel

See a ghost town on a Norwegian archipelago in the High Arctic.

The hosts discussed the Giulianis .

Now Time to Play

The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was jocular . Here is today’s puzzle — or you can play online .

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword , and a clue: Euphoric feeling (four letters).

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Persuasive Essay Guide

Persuasive Essay About Abortion

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Crafting a Convincing Persuasive Essay About Abortion

Persuasive Essay About Abortion

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Are you about to write a persuasive essay on abortion but wondering how to begin?

Writing an effective persuasive essay on the topic of abortion can be a difficult task for many students. 

It is important to understand both sides of the issue and form an argument based on facts and logical reasoning. This requires research and understanding, which takes time and effort.

In this blog, we will provide you with some easy steps to craft a persuasive essay about abortion that is compelling and convincing. Moreover, we have included some example essays and interesting facts to read and get inspired by. 

So let's start!

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  • 1. How To Write a Persuasive Essay About Abortion?
  • 2. Persuasive Essay About Abortion Examples
  • 3. Examples of Argumentative Essay About Abortion
  • 4. Abortion Persuasive Essay Topics
  • 5. Facts About Abortion You Need to Know

How To Write a Persuasive Essay About Abortion?

Abortion is a controversial topic, with people having differing points of view and opinions on the matter. There are those who oppose abortion, while some people endorse pro-choice arguments. 

It is also an emotionally charged subject, so you need to be extra careful when crafting your persuasive essay .

Before you start writing your persuasive essay, you need to understand the following steps.

Step 1: Choose Your Position

The first step to writing a persuasive essay on abortion is to decide your position. Do you support the practice or are you against it? You need to make sure that you have a clear opinion before you begin writing. 

Once you have decided, research and find evidence that supports your position. This will help strengthen your argument. 

Check out the video below to get more insights into this topic:

Step 2: Choose Your Audience

The next step is to decide who your audience will be. Will you write for pro-life or pro-choice individuals? Or both? 

Knowing who you are writing for will guide your writing and help you include the most relevant facts and information.

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Step 3: Define Your Argument

Now that you have chosen your position and audience, it is time to craft your argument. 

Start by defining what you believe and why, making sure to use evidence to support your claims. You also need to consider the opposing arguments and come up with counter arguments. This helps make your essay more balanced and convincing.

Step 4: Format Your Essay

Once you have the argument ready, it is time to craft your persuasive essay. Follow a standard format for the essay, with an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. 

Make sure that each paragraph is organized and flows smoothly. Use clear and concise language, getting straight to the point.

Step 5: Proofread and Edit

The last step in writing your persuasive essay is to make sure that you proofread and edit it carefully. Look for spelling, grammar, punctuation, or factual errors and correct them. This will help make your essay more professional and convincing.

These are the steps you need to follow when writing a persuasive essay on abortion. It is a good idea to read some examples before you start so you can know how they should be written.

Continue reading to find helpful examples.

Persuasive Essay About Abortion Examples

To help you get started, here are some example persuasive essays on abortion that may be useful for your own paper.

Short Persuasive Essay About Abortion

Persuasive Essay About No To Abortion

What Is Abortion? - Essay Example

Persuasive Speech on Abortion

Legal Abortion Persuasive Essay

Persuasive Essay About Abortion in the Philippines

Persuasive Essay about legalizing abortion

You can also read m ore persuasive essay examples to imp rove your persuasive skills.

Examples of Argumentative Essay About Abortion

An argumentative essay is a type of essay that presents both sides of an argument. These essays rely heavily on logic and evidence.

Here are some examples of argumentative essay with introduction, body and conclusion that you can use as a reference in writing your own argumentative essay. 

Abortion Persuasive Essay Introduction

Argumentative Essay About Abortion Conclusion

Argumentative Essay About Abortion Pdf

Argumentative Essay About Abortion in the Philippines

Argumentative Essay About Abortion - Introduction

Abortion Persuasive Essay Topics

If you are looking for some topics to write your persuasive essay on abortion, here are some examples:

  • Should abortion be legal in the United States?
  • Is it ethical to perform abortions, considering its pros and cons?
  • What should be done to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that lead to abortions?
  • Is there a connection between abortion and psychological trauma?
  • What are the ethical implications of abortion on demand?
  • How has the debate over abortion changed over time?
  • Should there be legal restrictions on late-term abortions?
  • Does gender play a role in how people view abortion rights?
  • Is it possible to reduce poverty and unwanted pregnancies through better sex education?
  • How is the anti-abortion point of view affected by religious beliefs and values? 

These are just some of the potential topics that you can use for your persuasive essay on abortion. Think carefully about the topic you want to write about and make sure it is something that interests you. 

Check out m ore persuasive essay topics that will help you explore other things that you can write about!

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Facts About Abortion You Need to Know

Here are some facts about abortion that will help you formulate better arguments.

  • According to the Guttmacher Institute , 1 in 4 pregnancies end in abortion.
  • The majority of abortions are performed in the first trimester.
  • Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures, with less than a 0.5% risk of major complications.
  • In the United States, 14 states have laws that restrict or ban most forms of abortion after 20 weeks gestation.
  • Seven out of 198 nations allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
  • In places where abortion is illegal, more women die during childbirth and due to complications resulting from pregnancy.
  • A majority of pregnant women who opt for abortions do so for financial and social reasons.
  • According to estimates, 56 million abortions occur annually.

In conclusion, these are some of the examples, steps, and topics that you can use to write a persuasive essay. Make sure to do your research thoroughly and back up your arguments with evidence. This will make your essay more professional and convincing. 

Need the services of a persuasive essay writing service ? We've got your back! that provides help to students in the form of professionally written essays. Our persuasive essay writer can craft quality persuasive essays on any topic, including abortion. 

So, just ask our experts ' do my essay ' and get professional help.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should i talk about in an essay about abortion.

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When writing an essay about abortion, it is important to cover all the aspects of the subject. This includes discussing both sides of the argument, providing facts and evidence to support your claims, and exploring potential solutions.

What is a good argument for abortion?

A good argument for abortion could be that it is a woman’s choice to choose whether or not to have an abortion. It is also important to consider the potential risks of carrying a pregnancy to term.

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Persuasive Essay

Why Freedom of Speech Is the Next Abortion Fight

A legal battle in Mississippi will test whether states can criminalize those who merely provide information.

A black-and-white photo of a protester silhouetted in front of the U.S. Supreme Court

I n the middle of July, three big blue billboards went up in and around Jackson, Mississippi. Pregnant? You still have a choice , they informed passing motorists, inviting them to visit Mayday.Health to learn more. Anybody who did landed on a website that provides information about at-home abortion pills and ways to get them delivered anywhere in the United States—including parts of the country, such as Mississippi, where abortions are now illegal under most circumstances.

A few days ago, the founders of the nonprofit that paid for the billboard ads, Mayday Health , received a subpoena from the office of the attorney general of Mississippi. (The state has already been at the center of recent debates about abortion: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization , the ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade , upheld a Mississippi statute by allowing states to put strict limits on abortion.) The subpoena, which I have seen , demands a trove of documents about Mayday Health and its activities. It may be the first step in an effort to force Mayday Health to take down the billboards, or even to prosecute the organization’s leaders for aiding and abetting criminal conduct.

Mayday Health is not backing down. This week, it is taking out a television ad on Mississippi channels and putting up 20 additional billboards. This makes the legal fight over the Jackson billboards a crucial test in two interrelated conflicts about abortion that are still coming into public view.

Read: The abortion-rights message that some activists hate

The first is that the availability of abortion pills, which are very safe and effective during the first three months of pregnancy, has transformed the stakes of the abortion fight . The pro-life movement has hoped that states’ new powers to shut down abortion providers will radically reduce the number of abortions around the country. The pro-choice movement has feared that the end of Roe will lead to a resurgence of back-alley abortions that seriously threaten women’s health.

Yet the changes wrought by the recent Supreme Court ruling may turn out to be more contained than meets the eye: Legal restrictions on first-trimester abortions have become much harder to enforce because a simple pill can now be used to induce a miscarriage. Abortion by medication is widely available in large parts of the country; as Mayday Health points out on its website, even women who are residents in states where doctors cannot prescribe such pills can set up a temporary forwarding address and obtain them by mail.

The second brewing conflict is about limits on free speech. So long as abortions required an in-person medical procedure, the pro-life movement could hope to reduce them by shutting down local clinics offering the service. Now that comparatively cheap and convenient workarounds exist for most cases, effective curbs on abortion require the extra step of preventing people from finding out about these alternatives. That is putting many members of the pro-life movement, be they Mississippi’s attorney general or Republican legislators in several states who are trying to pass draconian restrictions on information and advice about abortions, on a collision course with the First Amendment.

S ome limits on speech are reasonable. States do, for example, have a legitimate interest in banning advertisements for illegal drugs. If a cocaine dealer took out a billboard advertising his wares, the government should obviously be able to take it down. Especially when it comes to commercial speech, some common-sense restrictions on what people can say or claim have always existed and are well-justified.

But the laws that Republicans are now introducing in state legislatures around the country go far beyond such narrow limits on objectionable commercial speech. In South Carolina, for example, Republican legislators have recently sponsored a bill that would criminalize “providing information to a pregnant woman, or someone seeking information on behalf of a pregnant woman, by telephone, internet, or any other mode of communication regarding self-administered abortions or the means to obtain an abortion, knowing that the information will be used, or is reasonably likely to be used, for an abortion.”

Read: The coming rise of abortion as a crime

This law—which is modeled on draft legislation that the National Right to Life Committee is trying to get passed in many states around the country—would seriously undermine the right to free speech. It could potentially make doctors in states where abortion is actually legal liable to prosecution for discussing their services with someone who calls them from a state where abortion is illegal. It could even outlaw basic forms of speech such as news stories containing information that might be used by someone seeking an abortion. Theoretically, even this article could fall under that proscription.

The subpoena issued by the office of Mississippi’s attorney general is objectionable for similar reasons. Mayday Health is not advertising a commercial product or service. The organization does not handle or distribute abortion pills. All it does is provide information. Although one could reasonably believe that the information Mayday Health is providing may be used to commit acts that are now illegal in some parts of the United States, a ban on informational speech that can be used for the purposes of lawbreaking would be unacceptably broad and vague. After all, would-be lawbreakers might also consult the blog posts of lawyers who explain how to object to an improper search of a vehicle or study the pages of a novel to figure out how to make a Molotov cocktail. Should the attorney or the novelist also be considered to have aided or abetted a crime?

Recent efforts to suppress speech about abortion would seriously undermine the nation’s ability to debate the topic openly and honestly. Anybody who believes in the importance of the First Amendment should oppose them. As Will Creeley, the legal director of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, has pointed out , “These proposals are a chilling attempt to stifle free speech … Whether you agree with abortion or not is irrelevant. You have the right to talk about it.”

I n recent years , the wider debate about free speech has undergone a strange transformation. Historically, the American left staunchly defended the First Amendment because it recognized the central part that free speech played in the struggles against slavery and segregation, and in the fight for the rights of women and sexual minorities. But as establishment institutions, including universities and corporations, became more progressive, and parts of the left came to feel that they had a significant share in institutional power, the absolute commitment to free speech waned.

Progressives started to find the idea of restrictions on free speech appealing because they assumed that those making decisions about what to allow and what to ban would share their views and values. Today, some on the extremist left endorse restrictions on free speech, demanding campus speech codes and measures to force social-media sites to “deplatform” controversial commentators and censor what they claim is “misinformation.”

Mary Ziegler: Why exceptions for the life of the mother have disappeared

The transformation of the left’s position on freedom of speech has allowed both principled conservatives and the less-than-principled protagonists of the MAGA movement to cast themselves as defenders of the First Amendment. In the mind of many people, the cause of free speech has astoundingly quickly shifted from being associated with left-wing organizations such as the ACLU to becoming the property of right-leaning pundits and politicians.

This makes the new front in the fight over abortion rights an important reminder of why the left should never abandon the cause of free speech. If the left gives up on the core commitment to free speech, what people can say is as likely to be determined by the attorney general of Mississippi as it is by college deans or tech workers. Curbs on free expression have always been a tool of governments that seek to control the lives of their citizens and punish those who defy them. The same remains true today.

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Home — Blog — Topic Ideas — 50 Abortion Essay Topics: Researching Abortion-Related Subjects

50 Abortion Essay Topics: Researching Abortion-Related Subjects

abortion essay topics

Abortion remains a contentious social and political issue, with deeply held beliefs and strong emotions shaping the debate. It is a topic that has been at the forefront of public discourse for decades, sparking heated arguments and evoking a range of perspectives from individuals, organizations, and governments worldwide.

The complexity of abortion stems from its intersection with fundamental human rights, ethical principles, and societal norms. It raises questions about the sanctity of life, individual autonomy, gender equality, and public health, making it a challenging yet critically important subject to explore and analyze.

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the significance of choosing the right abortion essay topics and abortion title ideas , offering valuable insights and practical advice for students navigating this challenging yet rewarding endeavor. By understanding the multifaceted nature of abortion and its far-reaching implications, students can make informed decisions about their topic selection, setting themselves up for success in producing well-researched, insightful, and impactful essays.

Choosing the Right Abortion Essay Topic

For students who are tasked with writing an essay on abortion, choosing the right topic is essential. A well-chosen topic can be the difference between a well-researched, insightful, and impactful piece of writing and a superficial, uninspired, and forgettable one.

This guide delves into the significance of selecting the right abortion essay topic, providing valuable insights for students embarking on this challenging yet rewarding endeavor. By understanding the multifaceted nature of abortion and its far-reaching implications, students can identify topics that align with their interests, research capabilities, and the overall objectives of their essays.

Abortion remains a contentious social and political issue, with deeply held beliefs and strong emotions shaping the debate on abortion topics . It is a topic that has been at the forefront of public discourse for decades, sparking heated arguments and evoking a range of perspectives from individuals, organizations, and governments worldwide.

List of Abortion Argumentative Essay Topics

Abortion argumentative essay topics typically revolve around the ethical, legal, and societal aspects of this controversial issue. These topics often involve debates and discussions, requiring students to present well-reasoned arguments supported by evidence and persuasive language.

  • The Bodily Autonomy vs. Fetal Rights Debate: A Balancing Act
  • Exploring Abortion Rights: An Argumentative Analysis
  • Gender Equality and Reproductive Freedom in the Abortion Debate
  • Considering Abortion as a Human Right
  • The Impact of Abortion Stigma on Women's Mental Health
  • Abortion: A Controversial Issue
  • Persuasive Speech Outline on Abortion
  • Laughing Matters: Satire and the Abortion Debate
  • Abortion Is Bad
  • Discussion on Whether Abortion is a Crime
  • Abortion Restrictions and Women's Economic Opportunity
  • Government Intervention in Abortion Regulation
  • Religion, Morality, and Abortion Attitudes
  • Parental Notification and Consent Laws
  • A Persuasive Paper on the Issue of Abortion

Ethical Considerations: Abortion raises profound ethical questions about the sanctity of life, personhood, and individual choice. Students can explore these ethical dilemmas by examining the moral implications of abortion, the rights of the unborn, and the role of personal conscience in decision-making.

Legal Aspects: The legal landscape surrounding abortion is constantly evolving, with varying regulations and restrictions across different jurisdictions. Students can delve into the legal aspects of abortion by analyzing the impact of laws and policies on access, safety, and the well-being of women.

Societal Impact: Abortion has a significant impact on society, influencing public health, gender equality, and social justice. Students can explore the societal implications of abortion by examining its impact on maternal health, reproductive rights, and the lives of marginalized communities.

Effective Abortion Topics for Research Paper

Research papers on abortion demand a more in-depth and comprehensive approach, requiring students to delve into historical, medical, and international perspectives on this multifaceted issue.

Medical Perspectives: The medical aspects of abortion encompass a wide range of topics, from advancements in abortion procedures to the health and safety of women undergoing the procedure. Students can explore medical perspectives by examining the evolution of abortion techniques, the impact of medical interventions on maternal health, and the role of healthcare providers in the abortion debate.

Historical Analysis: Abortion has a long and complex history, with changing attitudes, practices, and laws across different eras. Students can engage in historical analysis by examining the evolution of abortion practices in ancient civilizations, tracing the legal developments surrounding abortion, and exploring the shifting social attitudes towards abortion throughout history.

International Comparisons: Abortion laws and regulations vary widely across different countries, leading to diverse experiences and outcomes. Students can make international comparisons by examining abortion access and restrictions in different regions, analyzing the impact of varying legal frameworks on women's health and rights, and identifying best practices in abortion policies.

List of Abortion Research Paper Topics

  • The Socioeconomic Factors and Racial Disparities Shaping Abortion Access
  • Ethical and Social Implications of Emerging Abortion Technologies
  • Abortion Stigma and Women's Mental Health
  • Telemedicine and Abortion Access in Rural Areas
  • International Human Rights and Abortion Access
  • Reproductive Justice and Other Social Justice Issues
  • Men's Role in Abortion Decision-Making
  • Abortion Restrictions and Social Disparities
  • Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Abortion Access
  • Alternative Approaches to Abortion Regulation
  • Political Ideology and Abortion Policy Debates
  • Public Health Campaigns for Informed Abortion Decisions
  • Abortion Services in Conflict-Affected Areas
  • Healthcare Providers and Medical Ethics of Abortion
  • International Cooperation on Abortion Policies

By exploring these topics and subtopics for abortion essays , students can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted nature of the abortion debate and choose a specific focus that aligns with their interests and research objectives.

Choosing Abortion Research Paper Topics

When selecting research paper topics on abortion, it is essential to consider factors such as research feasibility, availability of credible sources, and the potential for original contributions.

Abortion is a complex and multifaceted issue that intersects with various aspects of society and individual lives. By broadening the scope of abortion-related topics, students can explore a wider range of perspectives and insights.

  • Abortion Social Issue
  • Exploring the Complexity of Abortion: Historical, Medical and Personal Perspectives
  • Abortion: A Comprehensive Research
  • An Examination of Abortion and its Health Implications on Women
  • Abortion Introduction
  • Comparative Analysis of Abortion Laws Worldwide
  • Historical Evolution of Abortion Rights and Practices
  • Impact of Abortion on Public Health and Maternal Mortality
  • Abortion Funding and Access to Reproductive Healthcare
  • Role of Misinformation and Myths in Abortion Debates
  • International Perspectives on Abortion and Reproductive Freedom
  • Abortion and the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • Abortion and Gender Equality in the Global Context
  • Abortion and Human Rights: A Legal and Ethical Analysis
  • Religious and Cultural Influences on Abortion Perceptions
  • Abortion and Social Justice: Addressing Disparities and Marginalization
  • Anti-abortion and Pro-choice Movements: Comparative Analysis and Impact
  • Impact of Technological Advancements on Abortion Procedures and Access
  • Ethical Considerations of New Abortion Technologies and Surrogacy
  • Role of Advocacy and Activism in Shaping Abortion Policy and Practice
  • Measuring the Effectiveness of Abortion Policy Interventions

Navigating the complex landscape of abortion-related topics can be a daunting task, but it also offers an opportunity for students to delve into a range of compelling issues and perspectives. By choosing the right topic, students can produce well-researched, insightful, and impactful essays that contribute to the ongoing dialogue on this important subject.

The 50 abortion essay ideas presented in this guide provide a starting point for exploring the intricacies of abortion and its far-reaching implications. Whether students are interested in argumentative essays that engage in ethical, legal, or societal debates or research papers that delve into medical, historical, or international perspectives, this collection offers a wealth of potential topics to ignite their curiosity and challenge their thinking.

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Tips for Creating Impressive Persuasive Speeches on Abortion

Jessica Nita

Table of Contents

Speech is a great way to persuade someone that your position or viewpoint on a specific topic is correct and reasonable. But, creating a good persuasive speech is a challenging task. Especially, when you chose such a controversial topic as abortion. 

There are a lot of questions about abortion and they are constantly discussed in society. Debates over abortion touches on different aspects like religious viewpoints, the legality of this procedure, and its morality. And to create a good-quality abortion persuasive essay , you need to know about all key points, rules, and best writing practices.

In this article, you will find all information about writing persuasive speeches on abortion. We will tell you about each step and share some useful tips. Keep reading to learn more!

Preparing an Abortion Persuasive Speech : Essential Steps

The process of writing any persuasive speech includes several steps. And all of them are equally important if you want to craft the best speech possible. Speaking of abortion persuasive essay writing, here are the steps you need to follow to prepare an exceptional speech:

  • Research the topic. Before you decide what position to take in your speech, you need to learn as much information as possible about abortion and look at it from different viewpoints.
  • Choose your side. Basically, there are only two sides you can choose from — so-called pro-life and pro-choice. The first side argues against abortion, and another side argues in favor of abortion as a legal right for every woman.
  • Create a thesis statement for your abortion persuasive essay . 
  • Outline your speech. Write down all the points you want to communicate in your speech and organize them. Find the strongest arguments from all your ideas and use only them. Weak points will not help you to create a good persuasive essay.
  • Create the first draft. We will talk about each part of a persuasive essay structure later in this article.
  • Revise your speech and edit it. Polish your first draft by changing sentences, removing mistakes, and checking the logical sequence of all points. Repeat the process as many times as needed to create a flawless final draft.

How to Start a Persuasive Speech on Abortion

The best way to start your abortion persuasive speech is with an attention grabber. It can be interesting statistics, or an intriguing question, that will make the audience keep listening to you.

After the first sentence, you need to move to your thesis statement. Basically, you will argue for or against abortion and you need to clearly state it in your thesis. But, it is also important to provide the key point why you chose one side and not another. Use one sentence between the attention grabber and your thesis statement to ensure a smooth transition.

argumentative speech on abortion

How to Present Arguments in a Persuasive Speech About Abortions

Now, let’s talk about the main part of your abortion persuasive essay — argumentation. Basically, the less you write, the better. The meaning is you need to remove all unnecessary information from your speech. Provide short, precise facts and arguments, without deviating from your main point. Every argument should be formulated in powerful sentences that will hit your listeners and make them think critically.

The best way is to present an argument and back it up with a few facts or statistics. If you think that your argument can be unclear, make sure you add one more sentence to better explain your point. Once you communicate one point, move to the next one, that is logically connected to your previous point.

Don’t try to present all your arguments in one speech. Choose no more than 3-4 arguments, and make sure they are the strongest ones. Otherwise, your listener will be bored with the length of your abortion persuasive speech and unconvinced of the validity of your position.

How to End an Abortion Persuasive Speech

The conclusion is extremely important in a persuasive speech. It is the last chance to reinforce your point of view. So, if you want to impress the listeners and make them consider your position, you need to choose the right words for your concluding sentences.

First, you can summarize your arguments, just to remind the listeners of your key points. It should be a short sentence where you just repeat all points one by one. And after this, you need to make a final statement. 

There are a lot of options for how you can make it, and everything depends on what arguments you presented earlier. One of the most interesting ways is to end with a question that will make people doubt their position if it is opposite to yours.

Persuasive Speech About Abortion : Key Points to Know

We have already told you enough about the process of writing an abortion persuasive essay . But, the same with any type of essay, a persuasive speech has its special features. Here are some key points to remember if you truly want to persuade people of your viewpoint on abortion:

  • As people usually listen to speeches, not read them, there is no place for abstract phrases and deviations from the topic. A persuasive speech should be precise, clear, and contain powerful statements and arguments.
  • Use simple language, as people usually become less interested when hearing sophisticated words. No need to speak with too complicated phrases.
  • Your words can be emotional and passionate. It will help to strengthen your message and evoke emotions among your listeners. Using formal, dry language in an abortion persuasive essay is not effective at all.

Final Thoughts

We have covered all essential points in writing a speech about abortion. Now, it’s time for you to get to work and create a persuasive speech. We hope our guide will help you with this task.

And remember, despite the fact that persuasive speech should persuade people, it rarely works like that. One speech is not enough to make a person immediately change their opinion on abortion. But, a good persuasive speech indeed can influence people and get them thinking further. And it should be your goal when writing an abortion persuasive essay.

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A High School Teen’s Powerful Graduation Speech About Abortion Rights Is Going Viral

By Christopher Rosa

A High School Teen's Powerful Graduation Speech About Abortion Rights Is Going Viral

Paxton Smith, the 2021 valedictorian of Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, gave an impassioned graduation speech about abortion rights that's going viral. 

For those unfamiliar with what's happening in Texas: The state's governor, Greg Abbott, just signed into law the “heartbeat bill,” which, per The Texas Tribune , bans abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, when most women don't even realize they're expecting. 

Smith had originally planned to talk about television and media during her speech but instead used the platform to shed light on the “heartbeat bill.” 

“In light of recent events, it feels wrong to talk about anything but what is currently affecting me and millions of other women in this state,” Smith said, per Vox . “Starting in September, there will be a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, regardless of whether the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Six weeks. That’s all women get.”

According to Vox, the “heartbeat bill” not only bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy but allows people to sue anyone who “aids and abets” one of these illegal procedures. 

Smith's speech has exploded on TikTok, racking up more than 210,000 views. It was reposted to Twitter, where it's been viewed more than 2 million times. “In Texas, Lake Highlands High School valedictorian, Paxton Smith, switched out her approved speech to talk about abortion rights,” the tweet reads. 

This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

According to Advocate magazine, a local Highlands publication, Smith's decision to change her speech on the fly was not supported by her school district. “The content of each student speaker’s message is the private, voluntary expression of the individual student and does not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position, or expression of the District or its employees,” RISD school board president Karen Clardy said. “What the student did was unexpected and not supported by LHHS or RISD. We are going to review student speech protocols in advance of next year’s graduations to prevent something like this from happening again.”

That being said, Smith's father, Russell, fully supported her actions. “It was something that she felt was important, and she had the nerve, determination, and boldness to put herself out there and say her piece,” he said, according to Advocate . “So few people demonstrate this level of maturity and poise, regardless of age.”

Read her full speech, according to Advocate magazine, below: 

As we leave high school we need to make our voices heard. I was going to get up here and talk to you about TV and content and media because those are things that are very important to me. However, in light of recent events, it feels wrong to talk about anything but what is currently affecting me and millions of other women in this state.

Recently the heartbeat bill was passed in Texas. Starting in September, there will be a ban on abortions that take place after six weeks of pregnancy, regardless of whether the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. Six weeks. Most women don’t even realize they’re pregnant by then. And so, before they have the time to decide if they are emotionally, physically, and financially stable enough to carry out a full-term pregnancy, before they have the chance to decide if they can take on the responsibility of bringing another human into the world, the decision has been made for them by a stranger. A decision that will affect the rest of their lives.

I have dreams, hopes, and ambitions. Every girl here does. We have spent our whole lives working towards our futures, and without our consent or input, our control over our futures has been stripped away from us. I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail me, that if I’m raped, then my hopes and efforts and dreams for myself will no longer be relevant. I hope you can feel how gut-wrenching it is, how dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you.

And I’m talking about this today, on a day as important as this, on a day honoring the students’ efforts in 12 years of schooling, on a day where we’re all brought together, on a day where you will be the most inclined to hear a voice like mine, a woman’s voice, to tell you that this is a problem. A problem that can’t wait. I refuse to give up this platform to promote complacency and peace, when there is a war on my body and a war on my rights. A war on the rights of your sisters, a war on the rights of your mothers, a war on the rights of your daughters.

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How to Talk About Abortion

How to change hearts and minds, and reduce stigma while you're at it.

We know that the best way to change hearts and minds is to have open and honest conversations with people who trust us. This is also true when talking about abortion. So why is it so hard for some people to talk about abortion? Abortion stigma.

Abortion stigma is the shame and silence that surrounds abortion. It comes from years of well-practiced and often shared rhetoric that demonizes abortion and creates a challenging environment for us to talk openly and unapologetically about it. We, however, want to make sure that the way we speak about abortion promotes acceptance and normalization of this necessary health care that all people should be able to access. By talking with our loved ones about abortion, we can change the narrative around abortion and reassure people that abortion is essential health care.

Here are some tips for talking about abortion: we'll go over preparing your "why", facts and talking points to use in conversation, conversation starters, and language to use (and avoid).


To fight back against institutions that are chipping away at abortion rights, we need to center those who are affected: all people who can get pregnant, those with low-incomes, and people for whom structural racism has created longstanding barriers to abortion access, such as Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people. Most likely, the reason you want to have these conversations about abortion is because of your own story. Maybe you’ve had an abortion or supported someone else through one. Maybe you’ve been a clinic escort or have experienced a pregnancy scare.


Here are some resources we recommend:

- Considering Abortion - What Facts Do I Need to Know About Abortion?

- Planned Parenthood RED ALERT report on abortion restrictions

- National Abortion Federation “Women who have abortions”


We can change hearts and minds by speaking with our peers and trusting individuals. Here are a few different groups to think about speaking with about abortion:

- Members of a club/volunteer team/church

- Social media followers/mutuals

- Fitness groups

- Classmates

Be strategic in your timing as you plan these conversations. Rather than just reaching out randomly, create a plan for yourself. 

There are many different avenues to have these conversations with our loved ones. There is no guarantee that one conversation will change anyone’s mind, but it’s a good idea to make abortion a normalized topic for this person. Your conversations can happen via text, over the phone, in person, direct messaging, over social media, or wherever you think the person will be most receptive.


For help with conversation openers, try a variation of one of these lines:.

“Hi ___, have you heard about the extremely restrictive new law in Texas that bans abortion at around six weeks of pregnancy? That’s before most people know they’re pregnant. It also allows strangers to sue people who help others get an abortion in the state.”

“____, I really care about access to safe, legal, abortion, and I’m afraid because this access is being taken away from us. Can we talk about it?”

“Hey, ___, I had an abortion. In my experience [insert story], but now I’m afraid that we won’t be able to access this essential health care for much longer.”

“___, I'm really worried about the future of abortion access. I have loved ones who have had abortions, and there are so many other people who depend on this essential care. People like [abortion story] and me, will be affected by this. Can we talk about it?

Keep in mind:

Really listen to what they're saying. Try to understand their point of view. Ask them questions like: ‘Tell me more about that’ or ‘How does that make you feel?’

Be clear about how you feel and what you want by using “I statements” and leaning into your own experience.

Agree to disagree. This doesn’t mean you agree with their perspective. You’re just protecting yourself by choosing which battles to fight.

Be proud of yourself for starting this conversation. It takes real courage. Each time you overcome your nervousness and do it, you’ll build your skills and confidence.


Always return the conversation to the real people involved — that's why your story matters so much.

Being vulnerable boosts vulnerable conversations and builds trust with the person you are speaking to. Open up to them about why you support abortion, whether you’ve had one, supported someone through one, are a clinic escort, or believe access to abortion under any circumstance is important. Let them know why. Allowing yourself to open up allows genuine and honest conversation to flow. And, people will listen to their loved ones, even if their opinion is not swayed much or right away.

Meet people where they are. Don’t make assumptions or judgements on the person’s beliefs. Level set and find common ground with your shared values. Refer to these values often during your conversation.Abortion stigma is the shame and silence that surrounds abortion.

Don’t frame abortion as a women's issue: this doesn't represent the trans, nonbinary and gender non-confirming people who can get pregnant.

Don’t talk about abortion as “tragic” or a “hard decision.” That is not true for everyone and further stigmatizes abortion! Abortion is always a personal decision.

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The Pro-Choice Argument

There are those who hold that contraception unfairly manipulates the workings of nature, and others who cannot see the fetus as a child until the umbilical cord is cut. Invoking an almost religious fervor on both sides of the issue, abortion is one of the most emotionally potent present political controversies. Motherhood is a powerful institution in American life, and both the "Pro-choice" (supporting a woman's right to choose) and the "Pro-life" (anti-abortion) forces see the other as attacking the foundations of the mother-infant bond.

Social analysis argues forcibly for the need for safe, legal and affordable abortions. Approximately 1 million women had abortions annually until the 1973 decision legalizing abortion, and abortion had become the leading cause of maternal death and mutilation (40 deaths/100,000 abortions compared to 40 deaths/100,000 live births according to National Abortion Rights Action league.) An estimated 9000 rape victims become pregnant each year (FBI 1973); 100,000 cases of incest occur yearly (National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect, 1978). Two-thirds of teenage pregnancies are not planned, because many do not have adequate access to contraceptives (NARAL). And the taxpayer price of supporting a child on welfare is far greater than that of a Medicaid abortion. But the issue that provokes such anger surrounds the fetus's right to life--its status as a potential human being. Anti-abortionist proponents usually take the position that conception is life and therefore abortion is murder and violates the rights of the unborn, or that there is an inherent value in life and abortion is murder because it destroys that value.

The Supreme Court decided in 1973 that the unborn fetus had no constitutional rights until the third trimester (24-28 weeks), as it is incapable of functioning independently from the mother until that time. Right-to-Lifers claim that because the fetus will develop into a human being, it demands the same paternalistic protection that is extended to animals, children and others subject to exploitation and maltreatment. The fetus must be accorded the same constitutional rights as its mother.

Two arguments delineate the problems in giving the fetus these equivalent rights. The first looks at individual rights as the products of a social doctrine. Animals and children are unavoidably present within a society, and to ensure that they remain functioning members of that society they must be protected from exploitation by other societal members. Different political platforms advocate different rights--the right to free medical care, the right to minimal taxation--but all demarcate the interaction of the individual within the group. A person's rights protect him from future harassment, but to actually obtain those rights he must already be a member of the group providing him with those protections. An Australian cannot lay claim to American rights until he is on American soil (or its equivalent). He may have a guarantee that should he enter the United States, he will be accorded many of those protections. But the guarantee depends on his entrance onto American territory. In analogous fashion, until the fetus is actually, not potentially, a member of society, it does not have constitutional rights.

One could object that the fetus in the womb is as signally present in society as the child in the crib, that each are equally members of society. Yet surely the conception of "member" involves some minimal interaction. The fetus reacts to society of the outside world solely through the medium of the mother. Strictly speaking, then, society has no legal responsibility to the fetus, but rather to the mother.

This seems like a rather harsh position, but we can distinguish between the rights of the fetus and the action that a mother might feel morally compelled to take. Consider the following situation: suppose you were to return home one day and find a stranger camped out in your living room and peacefully eating the ham sandwich you saved for dinner. You would be tempted to throw him out in the street. Almost everyone could agree that you had the right to eject him.

But suppose he told you that he could not live outside of your house; perhaps one of his enemies waits outside your door. Moreover, he informs you that he needs food and clothing and someone to talk to--he needs your presence much of the day. He becomes more demanding: you must work less, earn less, give up jogging.

Introduce a complication: your food is strictly rationed, or perhaps your heating, on subsistence level for a single person. If the stranger stays with you, your life will be seriously endangered. You might be very upset, but if it came down to the wire you would probably kick him out of the house. Again, most people would agree you were within your rights to do so.

The difficulty of course arises when it would be possible for you to support him and take care of him, but you would rather not. You might agree if the demand were only for an evening, but hesitate if it were for the rest of your life. Do rights then depend upon the time factor? You could claim a certain moral responsibility towards another human being. But it is hard to say that he has the right to force you to support him. You are not legally required to help an old lady across the street.

One counterargument declares that willing intercourse implies acceptance of a possible pregnancy--that in effect you invited the stranger in, that you knew what you were in for and that he now has the right to demand your help. But faulty contraception is like a broken window. When you return to your suite and find your stereo missing, do you accede the thief's right to take it because your window is easily pried open? The abortion issue thus forces a clarification of the nature of the individual and his social rights. Although we may feel morally constrained to protect the future child, the fetus does not have the right to force us to do so. In the traditional dichotomy of church and state, to restrict abortion is to legislate morality.

The staunchest opposition comes from those who hold absolutely that conception is life. But belief in the inherent value of life is not a trite axiom: it avows some faith in the quality of existence beyond the moral injunction "Thou shalt not kill." It becomes easy to see as hypocritical those anti-abortionists--particularly men--who condone extra-marital intercourse (or even intramarital intercourse) yet would refuse to financially and emotionally support the child conceived because of faulty contraception. The only morally consistent value-of-life position is to have intercourse only if one is willing to accept a child as a possible consequence, and participate in the quality of the child's life. This in part lies behind the Catholic prohibition of premarital sex.

As a personal doctrine few would reproach those who follow it. But pragmatics belie its application to all society, rape being the prime instance where the woman is not free to choose to become pregnant. The restriction of federal support to cases of rape, incest and probable death of the mother suggests an interesting quality-of-life argument: that potentiality is not absolute but must be prorated. Due to society's dread of incest, such a mother and her child would be spared a psychologically unbearable life. In case of danger to the mother's life we do not hear that the 'child' has potentially far more years of happy, productive life than the mother. Rather, the argument runs that the mother's life should not be sacrificed for the child who would bear such a tremendous burden.

Yet an unwanted child may be born into a household with an equally heavy psychological toll. If the potentiality of life thesis rests on an understanding of the inner qualities of life, then abortion is a necessity rather than a crime. Those who deny the right to an abortion under any circumstances fail to see that their argument undercuts itself. Abortion provides a unique understanding of the "inherent good" of existence. It is morally irresponsible to believe that a pregnancy must be brought to term even in case of the mother's death simply because it is a matter of nature and out of our hands when we have the medical means to save the mother. The case involves a comparison of the life-value of the mother and the child: the final decision must evaluate the process of existence--the value of life as it is lived. The inherent value of life cannot be an a priori constant if a choice is to be made between two lives.

Once the quality of life-as-it-is-lived is introduced into the argument, we can say that abortion provides the possibility of improving that quality. Motherhood is a remarkably special bond between mother and child, perhaps the most important relationship we ever have. It requires tremendous emotional capacities, and raising children should be one of the most conscious decisions we make. Many of those who have abortions when young have children later in life, when they are more emotionally and financially equipped to handle them. Contraception is at most 99 per cent safe, and abortion must be available to allow women the freedom to provide the optimum conditions for their child's growth.

According to a 1978 Clark University study, 83 per cent of Massachusetts supports the woman's right to choose. But the trend of recent legislation is distinctly anti-abortion, the result of an extremely well-organized and funded "Pro-life" movement (which some link to the New Right). On the federal level, the 1976-7 Hyde Amendment, a rider on the Labor-HEW appropriations bill, cut off federally funded abortions except in cases of rape, incest, and "medically necessary" instances, defined by the Supreme Court as long-lasting physical or psychological damage to the mother's health.

In 1977 this clause cut 99 per cent of all reimbursements (250,000-300,000 annually prior to the cut-off); this year "medically necessary" has been replaced by probable death of the mother. Military women are similarly restricted under the Dornan Amendment; the Young Amendment funds no abortions at all for Peace Corps women. Employers may refuse to include abortion coverage in their company health plan under the Beard Amendment. Fifteen states have called for a constitutional convention to introduce the prohibition of all abortions: 19 more would fulfill the requisite number of 34.

In Massachusetts the Doyle Bill would cut off state funds in the same manner as the Hyde Amendment. Formerly an adjunct to the budget it was passed and signed as a bill this year. Appealed by MORAL (the Massachusetts Organization for the Repeal of Abortion Laws), the bill is under injunction and pending review by the Federal District Court on the basis of a Supreme Court decision that all medically necessary services must be available to the poor. As of last May, hospitals are no longer required to perform abortions upon demand except in case of probable death to the mother. Legislation restricting abortions to hospitals with full obstetrical care (rather than women's health clinics), now before the Massachusetts House, could place the woman in a double bind. Also under Massachusetts debate is an "Informed Consent" bill which essentially amounts to harrassment: the bill requires spouse and parental notification, with consent of parents or courts for minors, full information concerning the viability and appearance of the fetus, description of the aborting technique, anad a 24-hour waiting period after the 'information session' before the abortion could be obtained.

There is a real danger that anti-abortion legislation could become increasingly more restrictive. It already discriminates against women in lower economic brackets. The power of the pro-life people should not be underestimated: they have targeted 12 Congressmen for defeat in 1980, among them Morris Udall and Birch Bayh. We need to inform our politicians of their pro-choice constituency and reverse the further tightening of the over-restrictive and discriminatory legislation.

Tanya Luhrmann '80-3 is working for Abortion Rights Action Week.

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Abortion rights activists worry about Democrats piggybacking on the cause: ‘This is not a ploy’

Democrats’ glee about abortion becoming an electoral weapon could hurt key ballot initiatives, say advocates

Amy knows that a lot of people hate every candidate on the ballot this November.

As a nurse who has worked for more than a decade at Bread and Roses Women’s Health Center , an abortion clinic in Gainesville, Florida, Amy has dealt with both patients and friends who feel so disillusioned about partisan politics that they don’t want to vote at all in the 2024 elections. She gets it: the mere thought of the last few elections makes her grimace.

“You don’t have to vote for the candidates if you don’t want to,” she said in an interview the day before Florida outlawed abortion past six weeks of pregnancy. (Amy asked to be identified only by her first name, for privacy reasons.) “But please just vote for the ballot measure.”

Come November, Florida will be one of roughly a dozen states anticipated to hold a ballot measure asking voters to decide whether abortion rights should be protected or decimated. Florida’s ballot measure, however, may have higher stakes than any other in the country: if voters don’t support the measure to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution, they will be left with a six-week ban – which prohibits abortion before many people even know they are pregnant.

Abortion rights supporters have won every ballot measure since the US supreme court overturned Roe v Wade two years ago, and outrage over Roe’s demise is believed to have cost the Republicans a much-heralded “red wave” in the 2022 elections. Those successes have convinced Democrats that abortion is their silver bullet in the 2024 elections, particularly since Joe Biden consistently trails Donald Trump in polling and is at risk of losing the youth vote over the war in Gaza. Democrats across the country are now regularly blasting Republicans for their complicity in abortion bans.

But Democrats’ spotlight on abortion rights has also pushed the organizers of the nonpartisan campaign behind the Florida ballot initiative into an awkward position. They need 60% of the vote to win – and with almost a million more registered Republicans than Democrats in Florida, as well as more than 3 million independents, organizers can’t afford to appear too cozy with Democrats, especially at a time of unparalleled political discord.

“I understand the knee-jerk reaction, because it was a Republican governor that signed the six-week ban. It was a Republican-majority house and senate that created the bill itself,” said Trenece Robertson, a Florida reproductive justice activist who helped collect signatures to get the measure on the ballot. “But also, we need to do our best to make sure we as a state are unified and that we do not alienate anyone at this point, because we need as many votes as we can get.”

An April poll by Emerson College found that 42% of Florida voters plan to vote for the ballot measure. Fifty-six per cent of Democrats and 44% of independents plan to vote for it, while just 30% of Republicans said the same.

‘The Democrats are cynically using these initiatives’

Despite their party’s long-standing support for abortion rights, the Democrats in Congress and the White House largely spent the Roe era sidestepping the issue. Biden, a Catholic, once declared that he was not “big on abortion”; reproductive justice advocates famously tracked what seemed like an inability to even say the word “abortion”.

Now that anger over Roe’s demise has proved to be an electoral weapon, the president has begun to talk more openly about abortion. His campaign has pumped out multiple ads about the consequences of banning the procedure, while Kamala Harris is on a nationwide tour focused on the issue. In a speech in Jacksonville , Florida, last week, the vice-president brought up abortion-related ballot measures.

“Momentum is on our side. Just think about it. Since Roe was overturned, every time reproductive freedom has been on the ballot, the people of America voted for freedom,” Harris told the crowd. “From Kansas to California to Kentucky, in Michigan, Montana, Vermont, and Ohio, the people of America voted for freedom – and not by little but often by overwhelming margins, proving also that this is not a partisan issue – it’s not a partisan issue – and proving that the voice of the people has been heard and will be heard.”

Yet even as Harris insisted that abortion rights are a nonpartisan issue, she also referred to state-level abortion bans as “Trump abortion bans” five times.

Woman wearing grey suit stands at podium and points to screen

“Of course they’re trying to use the process. The Democrats are cynically using these initiatives to try to turn people out,” said the Arizona State University political sociologist Benjamin Case, who studies ballot measures. “They’re hoping that will be a boon to Biden, because those people might be more likely to vote for Biden.”

As part of his research, Case interviewed professional political operatives after Arizona’s state supreme court ruled a 1864 abortion ban could be enforced. Their main response, according to Case: “Oh, this is really great. Biden will win Arizona because it will piss people off.”

That sense of glee, however, contrasts sharply with the real-world consequences of abortion bans. “That sentiment predominates among the professional political class,” Case said. “Among organizers in Arizona, it was a lot different, for obvious reasons.”

Arizona’s state legislature, which has a razor-thin Republican majority, has since moved to repeal that ban , and abortion is currently legal in the state until 15 weeks of pregnancy. Arizona is likely to hold an initiative in November to protect abortion until fetal viability.

Julie Cantillo, a volunteer coordinator with the Gainesville Radical Reproductive Rights! Network, which helped gather signatures for the Florida ballot initiative, said that national Democrats’ talk of using ballot measures to bring out voters leaves her “scared”.

“It makes it gimmicky. Also, it doesn’t acknowledge that real people’s lives are at stake here,” Cantillo said. “This is about everyone having access to their human rights and healthcare. I don’t want to minimize it by saying this is a ploy to turn people out. That’s not why so many Floridians have been putting so much effort into this.”

Abortion-related ballot measures have never been put to the test in a presidential campaign. And despite Democrats’ hopes for boosted turnout, it is not clear that support for abortion rights, which are broadly popular, will translate to support for Biden or any other Democratic candidate. Whenever voters are asked to decide big ballot measures, votes on the measure often outnumber votes for candidates, indicating that people are showing up only to vote on the measure, according to Case.

Ultimately, if voters are resorting to a ballot measure, Case said, it’s an indictment of elected politicians’ failure to do their job.

“If they were really governing in the popular interest and there’s some policy that 65% of people want and they haven’t passed it yet,” he said, “that should raise questions about why not.”

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Why Are Some Republican Lawmakers Hellbent on Preserving Child Marriage?

By Tessa Stuart

Tessa Stuart

Holly Thompson Rehder was a sophomore when she dropped out of high school and married her 21-year-old boyfriend. Today, she’s a GOP state senator and the sponsor of a bill that would ban child marriage in Missouri — a bill that she has been surprised to see blocked by her Republican colleagues who argue there is nothing wrong with the practice.

“I know firsthand. I was married at 15. My sister was married at 16. My cousin was married at 16,” Rehder says. “I understand how a teenage girl being married off is harmful to her life, and sometimes that’s hard for others who haven’t seen that, up close and personal, to understand.”

Rehder, along with state Sen. Lauren Arthur (D), introduced a bill that would outlaw marriage for anyone under the age of 18. The bill, which passed the GOP-controlled Senate 31-1 earlier this year, has stalled in House — the Government Efficiency and Downsizing committee, specifically — where half of the committee’s 14 members have opposed it. 

Among the bill’s opponents is Rep. Hardy Billington (R), who told the Kansas City Star he believes that ending child marriage in Missouri would encourage abortion . “My opinion is that if someone [wants to] get married at 17, and they’re going to have a baby, and they cannot get married, then… chances of abortion are extremely high,” Billington said. (Missouri bans abortion at any stage, except when the life of the pregnant person is at stake.)

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The United States does not have a federal law setting the age of marriage. The marriage age is set by states, and only 12 of them have banned child marriage. (Those states: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.)

A 2021 study by the advocacy group Unchained at Last found that 300,000 minors were married between 2000 and 2018 in the United States. According to the group, 60,000 of those marriages involved an age difference that would have otherwise been considered a sex crime.

The vast majority of these minors were 16 or 17 years old, and most were girls wed to adult men who were four years older than they were, on average. There were five documented instances of children as young as 10 married in the U.S. in the period studied.

Several states legislatures have recently considered bills that would raise the marriage age recently — but they have run into opposition from Republican men who often cite abortion as the reason. 

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Last year in West Virginia, a bill that would have raised the minimum age to obtain a marriage license passed the House of Delegates with overwhelming support, was defeated in the Senate Judiciary committee. Among the bill’s opponents was Republican state Sen. Mike Stuart, who shared that his mother married at age 16, and gave birth to him six months later. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” he said. The proposal, which raised the marriage age to 16 with parental consent, was ultimately resurrected and signed into law.

In Wyoming last year, when state lawmakers were considering a bill to raise the minimum marriage age to 16, the Republican Party sent out an email citing talking points from the religious group Capitol Watch for Wyoming Families that asserted : “Since young men and women may be physically capable of begetting and bearing children prior to the age of 16, marriage MUST remain open to them for the sake of those children.” (The bill ultimately passed.)

Missouri’s Rehder, who became pregnant shortly after she was married at 15, doesn’t accept this argument. “I think there is no correlation” between child marriage and abortion, she says. “As a woman who was married at 15, who was pregnant at 15, you’re either pro-life or pro-choice. Your marriage status doesn’t have anything to do with either being pro-life or pro-choice.”

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“I’m tenacious, and I don’t give up until the last bell rings,” Rehder says. “I’ve got a bill that I’ve been working on [about] sex trafficking and foster children benefits. I’ve got it moving in the House, and I’m working to try to get this language for the marriage age added [as an amendment] to it.” 

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Justice clarence thomas decries washington as ‘hideous’ and pushes back on ‘nastiness’ of critics.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks at the Heritage Foundation on October 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Clarence Thomas has now served on the Supreme Court for more than 30 years. He was nominated by former President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and is the second African-American to serve on the high court, following Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas repeatedly pushed back on his critics during remarks Friday at a judicial conference in Alabama, lamenting what he described as the “nastiness” and “lies” directed at him and calling Washington a “hideous place.”

Asked whether his jurisprudence required a degree of courage, Thomas said he didn’t view himself as courageous – particularly when compared with servicemembers, and firefighters and people who defuse bombs. Thomas said he was simply doing his job.

“Being in Washington, you have to get used to particularly people who are reckless,” Thomas, a conservative and the court’s most senior associate justice, said. “They don’t bomb you, necessarily, but they bomb your reputation or your good name or your honor. And that’s not a crime but they can do as much harm that way.”

Speaking at the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals conference in Point Clear, Alabama, Thomas argued that it would be a disservice to those soldiers and first responders “not to sit at my desk and make decisions with a lifetime appointment that we know are the right decisions.”

Thomas, while not speaking directly to a series of reports about ethics that have plagued him for months, repeatedly returned to his critics without prompting from US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, who moderated the discussion.

“My wife and I, the last two or three years, it’s been – just the nastiness and the lies – it’s just incredible,” Thomas said.

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.

Related article Judges from around the country say Trump can be held accountable for January 6. What will the Supreme Court say?

Thomas and his wife, Ginni, have been the target of a good deal of criticism in recent years. Several of Thomas’ critics, including Democratic members of Congress, have called on him to recuse himself from Supreme Court cases involving the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol because of his wife’s efforts to reverse the 2020 presidential election in former President Donald Trump’s favor.

Ginni Thomas has  acknowledged attending Trump’s rally before the Capitol attack. Justice Thomas has declined to recuse himself  from cases this year involving the January 6 attack, including a blockbuster appeal regarding Trump’s claims of absolute immunity from criminal charges for his efforts to overturn the election results.

Thomas has also faced criticism for accepting private jet travel and posh vacations from Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, first reported by ProPublica . In response to the blowback, Thomas updated his financial disclosure forms , and the Supreme Court adopted a code of conduct for the first time last year.

At one point on Friday, Thomas told a story about a walk he took with a friend before breaking off into an aside.

“That’s before they started attacking my friends,” Thomas said. “I hope I still have some.”

As he has in the past, Thomas also spared little criticism for Washington, DC.

“I think what you’re gonna find, and especially in Washington, [is] people pride themselves in being awful,” Thomas said one point.

The remark elicited laughter in the room, until Thomas continued.

“It is a hideous place, as far as I’m concerned,” Thomas said, noting that he liked to visit other places where people “don’t pride themselves in doing harmful things merely because they have the capacity to do it.”

Thomas, 75, also appeared to lament a loss of trust within the Supreme Court , telling the conference that the stunning leak of a draft abortion opinion in 2022 wouldn’t have happened when he joined the court in 1991. It wasn’t the first time Thomas has made those points – he once likened the leak to an “infidelity” – but his remarks Friday suggested the fallout from the leak of the decision overturning Roe v. Wade may still be top of mind.

US Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni Thomas attend a memorial service for former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, on December 19, 2023. O'Connor, the first woman US Supreme Court justice, died on December 1, 2023 at 93 of complications related to advanced dementia and a respiratory illness. She served as one of the nine justices on the court until 2006 and wielded enormous influence as a crucial

Related article Justice Clarence Thomas chooses not to recuse himself from another January 6-related case

“We may have been a dysfunctional family, but we were a family,” Thomas said of the court when he first joined in 1991. “It would be inconceivable that anyone would leak an opinion of the court or do anything to intentionally harm one another.”

Thomas also became the latest justice in recent weeks to raise concern with the Supreme Court’s applications docket, the process the court uses to handle emergency requests. That docket has come under fierce criticism in recent years, in part because the court often decides the requests on a short timeline, usually without oral argument and often with orders that do not indicate how the justices voted.

“I think there’s some concern about that among my colleagues – certainly with me – because it short circuits our process,” Thomas said. “The way that we’re doing it now, I think, is not a thorough way of dealing with very, very difficult issues.”

As he returned to his critics, Thomas suggested the lesson he had taken away from the last year of controversy was that he would not react with “nastiness for nastiness.”

“You have some choices. You don’t get to prevent people from doing horrible things or saying horrible things,” Thomas said.

But, he said, he had come to accept “the fact that they can’t change you unless you permit that.”

This story has been updated with additional reporting.


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