27 Jun 2012

Sample Essay: Children, Things We Throw Away

Rickie Solinger demonstrates in the article “Race and ‘Value’: Black and White Illegitimate Babies, in the U.S.A., 1945-1965”, which can be located online,  that abortion’s controversial status in society is also an issue which reflects the power of the state on women’s bodies. For example, white women were encouraged after the war to deliver a child instead of abort it and were thereby often pushed to give their child up for adoption, whether they desired this or not. On the other hand, African-American women were encouraged to keep their children and punished, instead of aided socially and economically, because Black illegitimate children were deemed less desirable, and hence a burden, because of their color. In this context, the reader, including me, cannot help but support abortion given how the deprivation of women of this choice undermines their power over their fate and underscores their submissiveness and existence at the mercy of the state’s preconception of what is right for them; a preconception that can be often shaped by external factors like taxes and race instead of what is actually in the best interest of the woman and child. The article by Solinger is thus extremely useful in providing a comprehensive historical review of the issue of abortion, which helps contextualize the current significance of the problem.

The source by Solinger is reliable because it is based on factual historical data. Each claim is supported by references to other researchers, making the source therefore very relevant in understanding the background of abortion in the U.S and its connection to other issues like race and class. For example, as Solinger makes clear in the article, abortion is an act that has been always sought by women. However, male doctors, politicians, policy makers, and legislatives have undermined females’ capacity to make this choice based on their own preconceptions of femininity and motherhood. For example, after the Second World War when adoption among white unmarried women became more common, male doctors generally refused to give permission to women to have an abortion, even when signs of psychological or emotional problems were evident, as they believed it undermined their femininity and future ability to be a good wife and mother. Certain doctors simply refused based on the principle that women should bear responsibility for their sexuality. This reason is in fact what motivated some doctors to deny women abortion unless they agreed also to sterilization. What is interesting and important to note is that this last scenario affected mostly the poor women of color who had no choice but to oblige and surrender to the fact that they had no power over their bodies or fate. It has become clear that Solinger relies on elaboration and detailed factual analysis to support her arguments which makes the article reliable and useful to back up a thesis regarding abortion.

This online article is also useful because putting things in historical perspective, as Solinger does, helps underline the undeniable fact that women have both before and after the significant Roe v. Wade sought abortions and a way to deal with an unexpected and undesirable pregnancy. However, the state has always found a way to control the female body, either by limiting the opportunity for abortion and/or making it against the law and thereby endangering the lives of those who sought it illegally, or by pushing white women to give up their children while encouraging Black females to keep theirs, thereby determining the fate of child and mother based on the domineering ideas of race, femininity, and class. In other words, Solinger helps the reader understand through this article how abortion remains a significant and controversial issue in the U.S because it underlines the state’s tradition in undermining women’s power over their body. It is this point that re-affirmed my belief that no government should have a say in the choices and decisions that women can take regarding their bodies and fate as women and mothers. All these reasons and evidence within the article make it a relevant source.

“The Bible’s Teaching Against Abortion” by Frank A. Pavone examines, contrary to Solinger who is concerned with facts and historical data, the religious and spiritual background regarding the issue of abortion. This online resource is presented as reliable and relevant. It is supported by dozens of Biblical excerpts. The source clarifies how abortion is one of the issues that never fails to raise heated controversy between those who support freedom of choice and independent action including with regard to matters of life and death, and a second group that remains opposed to then notion due to its deprivation of a potential, helpless and innocent human being of the chance to grow and live. The website sheds also light on how controversy regarding the morality of abortion has existed since thousands of years, even before the arrival of Christianity. Issues that served to raise disagreement with regard to the lawfulness of abortion centered throughout this extended period of time around the questions of when a fetus can be official deemed to be formed, whether or not one can view a fetus to be an independent life on its own rather than merely a part of his mother’s body and hence her property, and the rights of the individual adult to the making of a choice alike; a choice that could alter one’s life beyond what was desirable or endurable on a personal and economic level. These arguments do also shape the debate and is also strengthened by what critics describe as Biblical ambiguity about the issue of abortion. The website affirms however that when an approach is adapted that includes the analysis of Biblical ethics regarding life’s sanctity in general and does therefore not just focus on the manner of presenting the subject in the Old Testament or the lack of available evidence about the beginning and end of life in the Bible as a whole, it can be concluded that God’s Word reveals his views regarding the sanctity of life, including that which is found in the womb.

The website is thus relevant to include in the discussion of abortion because it sheds light on the spiritual and religious context shaping the issue. The fact that it is well-researched and supported by historical references and Biblical passages makes it a reliable source to comprehend the spiritual angle shaping the issue. The website helps also clarify that while the debate about abortion might appear to be mostly inspired by the controversy between secularist individualists and Biblically inspired believers, it is interesting to note that the history of abortion goes back much further in time. For instance, before Christianity’s arrival, abortion existed in Greek and Roman society, which were both unconcerned with the rights of the unborn and did not regard the fetus’ right to life as valuable as its parents’ rights to choice. Even during this time, the question about the time when the fetus was officially formed dominated the debate. With the beginning of the Bible times after the Old Testament, the question of abortion was again introduced through several passages that left people however divided about the nature of divine will concerning the subject given how these particular texts approached abortion as a loss of property rather than a problem that provokes concerns about the sanctity of life. What highlights the status of the fetus as property in the Bible is for example the idea that if a person causes a miscarriage, he must pay a fine to the husband and woman, and is thus only to be trailed for the death of a human being and receive the punishment of execution if he causes also the death of the female.

Both sources by Solinger and Pavone are thus useful to include in a paper with a thesis about abortion. The sources can be located online but this does not meant that they are not reliable. Though they approach the subject each from a different angle and perspective, one historical and one that is mostly religious and spiritual, both do nevertheless shed light on the subject and help further an understanding of what defines the controversy today.


Pavone, F. F. (n.d.). The Bible’s Teaching Against Abortion. Pro Life – Anti Abortion Facts and Pro-Life Arguments. Retrieved May 28, 2012, from http://www.priestsforlife.org/brochures/thebible.html

Solinger, R. (2007). Race and ˜Value: Black and White Illegitimate Babies, in the U.S.A., 1945“1965. Wiley Online Library. Retrieved May 28, 2012, from onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-0424.1992.tb00154.x/abstract

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