Sample Sociology Paper on Abortion as a Social Problem

Abortion is a major social problem today and one of the most divisive issues in the United States – and other countries for that matter. A The Economist article is aptly titled “Abortion in America: The War that never Ends”. There is a persistent war between the proponents and opponents of abortion, and more than that the issue is examined from various perspectives: health, human right, economics, morality and the sanctity of life, among others. These themes cut across all anti- and/or pro-abortion arguments, whether explicitly or only subtly, and even people on the same side often do not agree on these issues.

To begin with, the magazine(1) explores the division between the two sides of the debate: those for abortion and those against it. It cites the main arguments used by both sides, and in the process cites the point of disagreement and for which both sides are increasingly becoming more polarized. Particularly, the article argues, the proponents of abortion have cited health reasons, arguing that legal abortion is safe as they are in the hands of qualified health practitioners. On the other hand, the opponents cite the sanctity of life and equate abortion to murder, and they argue that it is the responsibility of individuals to avoid unwanted pregnancies (The Economist 1). The article, however, notes that most – if not all – European countries, which have legalized abortion, do not have the same controversies as in America. The article attributes this to the fact that, rather than basing their arguments on ‘health’ (the case in Europe), America has based the debate on the question of constitutional ‘right’, which is more controversial. Indeed, while health is a more practical and tangible issue, the question of ‘human rights’ is often slippery and open to interpretation, which leaves too much room for abuse. The second reason is that, in the process of liberalizing abortion laws, America – unlike European countries that used legislation and at time referenda – has failed to leverage majority support. As a result, the laws passed by the states to legalize abortion lack legitimacy.

The implication of  the article is that the debate will most probably never be settled. This is evident in some of the articles published by various media houses, which cite the same issues but also new ones. The articles explored below are from the Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and another one from The Economist.

What is clear about Catherine Pearson in her the Huffington Post article is that she is a proponent of legal abortion. In fact, in another article, she explores the fact that many women, especially in the rural areas do not have ready access to abortion services as a result of the decline of abortion clinics. This is what she refers to as the “abortion crisis” (Pearson 1). The solution she suggests notwithstanding (which is that nurses should be permitted to carry out abortions), the point is that she is pro-abortion, which should put her in the same category as Bernie Sanders, among other so-called ‘progressives’. Even then, she criticizes Sanders’ support of Heath Mello for the mayor of Omaha. Pearson (1) observes that, in his career, Sanders has always advocated for economic equality. However, she sees in his support for Mello – who’s ‘progressive credentials’ she finds suspect – an attempt to separate reproductive equality from economic equality. Particularly, she cites the financial burden of unintended pregnancies on women. In this respect, Pearson (2) moves away from the ‘health’ issue to the economic question. This is only a small point of division within the pro-abortion faction, and there are many more.

Just as there are divisions in the pro-abortion faction, so there are divisions among those opposed to it. The Economist (1), for instance, cites divisions among republicans on various legislations aimed at curbing abortion. Generally, state legislators have passed many anti-abortion laws. Some of these include laws barring coverage of abortion under health plans and abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy on the argument of saving the fetus from pain; laws making abortions by minors harder. However, some laws are said to be too extreme that conservatives are also divided. In Mississippi, for instance, legislators failed to pass a law that “would have banned abortion from the moment of fertilization” (The Economist 1). Similarly, conservatives in Ohio have not agreed on a bill seeking to ban abortions from the moment that the heartbeat of the fetus is detected, which is usually at about nine weeks of pregnancy. These divisions imply one of the issues that both sides of the abortion debate have failed to agree on: when the fetus becomes human. As already note above, one of the arguments of those against abortion is that it is the same as murder, and this division implies the difficulty in answering this question.

As already noted above, one of the issues that Pearson (1) touches on in one of her articles is the decline of abortion clinics. What is not mentioned is that she also cites (as part of the problem of access to abortion services) the emergence of rigid guidelines and standards for abortion. These include the requirement that doctors must be the ones to witness as a patient takes the abortion pills. She gives an example of Julie Jenkins, who is a health care provider specializing on women. While Jenkins can perform the procedures leading to an abortion, when it comes to the time for taking the pill, she establishes a video conference with a doctor who witnesses the procedure (Pearson 1-2). Chuck Donovan cites these same issues in his The Wall Street Journal article. To begin with, Donovan explores what he believes to be a declining abortion market or to be clear, “declining abortion rates” (1). In other words, even as the debate on abortion remains intense, more women are increasingly not taking the option. It is in this respect that he cites the same issues as Pearson (1-2), particularly the declining numbers of clinics and impractical standards. He, however, goes ahead to list some of the reasons for this perceive decline: improve usage of contraceptives, less sexual activity among teenagers as well as more support (through government policies) for single mothers. The implication would be that abortion is becoming less of a social problem. However, it is practical to expect that abortion will remain a major problem for years to come. As Pearson (1) demonstrates, therefore, the reduced number of clinics is only likely to lead to some of the problems though long forgotten, especially the lack of access to abortion services in rural areas. The fact that nurses have limited mandate on abortion procedures is only likely to make the matter even worse.

All the articles cited in this paper exemplify the ongoing debate. In particular, they demonstrate the challenges with settling the debate. There are many issues involved: health and life, morals, human rights and economics, among others. There are also questions on who between the mother and unborn baby should be though more important. The pro-abortionists seem to believe that the mother is more important: her health and economic abilities. Those opposed seem to place their loyalty with the unborn baby, seeking to protect the fetus from pain and/or death. Moreover, on a related note, conservatives cannot agree on when the fetus can be considered human – when they get a heartbeat (that is, nine weeks of pregnancy) or twenty weeks after conception. All these complexities (and themes involved) are exemplified in these articles.

In the end, though, while some of the articles suggest a solution to the problems they cite, some just explore the state of debate or legislations involved. Donovan’s (1) article only cites what he sees as declining abortion market and lists some of the possible causes of this trend. This is also the case with one of The Economist articles, which merely explores the ongoing legislative efforts towards curbing and/or limiting abortion. Other articles, however, pose problems and go on to suggest solutions. Pearson (1) cites the lack of access to abortion services as a result of declining clinics and suggests the need to license nurses to carry out the procedure. In another article, she suggests the need to see reproductive issues as tied to economic goals. Finally, one of The Economist articles examines the controversies and divisions accompanying the abortion debate in America, and seems to suggest that taking a legislation route and citing health reasons would facilitate a consensus. The problem is that American is more culturally/ethnically, politically and religiously diverse than the countries in Europe, so finding a consensus is much harder, assuming that it is ever possible.



Works Cited

Donovan, Chuck. Abortion Has a Market Problem, The Wall Street Journal, Mar. 02, 2016. Web, 10 March 2018

Pearson, Catherine. Reminder to Progressives: Abortion is an Economic Issue, Huffington Post, Apr. 20, 2017. Web, 10 March 2018

Pearson, Catherine. The Answer to America’s Abortion Crisis Is Actually Pretty Simple: Nurses, Huffington Post, Feb. 20, 1018. Web, 10 March 2018

The Economist. Abortion in America: the War that never Ends, The Economist, Jan. 16, 2003. Web, 10 March 2018

The Economist. Restricting Abortion: Unintended Issues, The Economist, Jan. 07, 2012. Web, 10 March 2018