Analysis and Advocacy
For this two-part essay, read the article titled “What I Saw at the Abortion” by Dr. Richard Selzer, posted in Canvas under Modules and Essay 2 – Analysis and Advocacy.
After you’ve read the essay, begin your own essay with this sentence: In his essay, “What I Saw at the Abortion,” Dr. Richard Selzer writes about his experience witnessing an abortion for the first time.
You do not need a title for this first section of the essay.
In this first part, address these questions: Is Selzer writing from an unbiased viewpoint or is he seeking to persuade us about the issue of abortion? If he is trying to persuade us, does he do this effectively? Is he fair to both sides of the abortion debate and does he provide a balanced presentation of these sides? How does he use language, style, tone, and other rhetorical tools to achieve the objective of his essay? Give a few examples of words and phrases he uses to support your analysis. Because you are simply analyzing Selzer’s essay, you should not indicate whether you agree or disagree with his objective. Most students write about one page on this first part of the two-part essay.
Once you’ve completed this first section of the assignment—the analysis—you are now ready to tab down an extra double space and begin the next part of this assignment, which is to write a formal essay with a title, an introduction, thesis, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. You do not need a transition sentence from the analysis section to this essay.
Of course, before you begin writing the formal essay, you need to do some research on the topic of abortion. You may already have an opinion about this issue, but this assignment offers an opportunity to review both sides of the debate. As you review various sources about abortion, think about which perspective—pro-life or pro-choice—seems most appropriate for citizens of the United States. The view that seems most appropriate will become your thesis. You must argue a position on this issue in a logical and reasonable manner.
As such, your thesis should state whether or not abortion should remain legal in the United States. (Note: abortion is current legal in the United States, as decided by the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.)
For your body paragraphs, use the 7-Step body structure and introduce reliable sources to support your claim. Be wary of what pops up online. Many pro-life sites include images of fetuses designed to emotionally influence you against a woman’s right to choose. Instead, look for reliable sites and sources that discuss this topic from a balanced perspective.
Tips to a successful essay
After introducing Dr. Richard Selzer in your first sentence, refer to him as “Selzer” in the remainder of the essay.
Do not write two separate essays. Just write one paper in two parts.
When writing about Selzer’s article (and other sources), write in the present tense. For example, write “Selzer describes an abortion,” not “Selzer described an abortion.” Also, use a formal style of writing. For example, instead of writing “Pro-choice advocates feel it’s ok to have an abortion,” write instead “pro-choice advocates believe it is acceptable for a woman to choose….” Similarly, instead of writing “Abortion is a big issue,” write “Abortion is a significant issue.” In formal writing, the words “big” and “huge” describe physical size.
Another tip is to avoid using the word “you” in many instances. For example, instead of writing “When you consider all the options,” write intead “when we consider all the options.” Similarly, some students describing a woman who is pregnant have written “When you get pregnant,” which is quite odd to a male reader. Write instead, “When a woman gets pregnant.”
Also, be careful when using the words woman and women. As you know, “woman” is singular and “women” is plural. Last semester a student incorrectly wrote, “The government should not control what women do with her body.” Of course, the sentence should read “The government should not control what women do with their bodies” or “. . . what a woman does with her body.”
In this essay, you want to demonstrate that you are a reasonable and educated individual who has considered both sides of this debate before coming to a conclusion. For this reason, unlike the first essay we wrote where we may have omitted certain truths to write about racism, you can refer to sources and views that are opposed to your thesis. However, be careful not make the opposing argument so compelling that it undermines your essay’s perspective.
Another important tip is to avoid using “I” or “me” in keeping with the objective tone. Writing “I believe” or “I think” or “I feel” or “in my opinion” creates a biased and subjective tone and can weaken an argument. Even though this essay might express your actual opinion, do not refer to yourself in the essay. Notice that instead of writing “I believe that…” you can more powerfully argue that “As a nation, we should….”
Use the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice,” not terms like “anti-abortion” or “pro-abortion.” These terms are not capitalized if they appear in the middle of a sentence. For example, you would write “many pro-choice advocates” and not “many Pro-choice advocates.”
Please do not base your argument on religious beliefs for this essay. While you must take a stand in this essay, you do not personally have to agree with the position. This assignment is not designed to force you to reveal your personal or religious points of view but is designed to assess how well you logically and reasonably present a particular position about abortion relative to ethics and morals in our society.
When answering the questions asked in this prompt regarding Selzer’s essay, do not fall into the trap of only summarizing his essay. Be sure to actually answer the questions.
Be sure to spell the name Selzer correctly. Students have misspelled his name as Sezler, Seltzer and Zelser.
Be sure to look back at your last essay to avoid repeating errors in this essay. Correct those errors so you are not repeating bad habits.
Using sources to support your claim
In the second part of the essay, cite reliable sources to support the position for which you’re arguing. Use either a quotation or a paraphrase from the sources. Be sure to introduce your sources with a signal phase. These sources can be Selzer’s article, Sandra Kay’s blog post, an internet post, an online article, a book, or similar sources. Guttmacher.org is a website often cited by students in this essay.
Be sure to cite your sources and include a Works Cited page according to MLA standards. A free online tool for creating a Works Cited page is found by clicking on Noodle Tools at https://www.noodletools.com/. Be sure to change the font of the Works Cited page to match the font in the body of your essay, and place the Works Cited page on a separate page (but within the same document) at the end of your essay.
Here’s how to cite Richard Selzer’s essay and Sandra Kay’s blog post (if you choose to refer to Kay) in your Works Cited page:
Kay, Sandra. “A Pro-Choice Perspective.” Shesayswithasmile.blogspot.com. Web. 4 March 2008.
Selzer, Richard. “What I Saw at the Abortion.” Esquire Magazine. Jan. 1976
Correct formatting is important: Use the Essay Template posted in here to ensure proper formatting. Just “save as” to create your own essay, which is already formatted. The template has the proper MLA heading, spacing, and Works Cited formatting. It uses 12-point font for every text element of the essay, and the spacing is set at zero for “before” and “after” spacing under the paragraph tab in Microsoft Word. The essay is double-spaced and includes one-inch margins. Sample MLA essays are available online. A good resource is the OWL at Purdue University.