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Persuasive Format Sample 1

Introduction: We have all heard sad stories of unwanted teenage pregnancies. There are the girls who drop out of school to care for babies they did not really want, having to work to support their unexpected new "families." There are the guys who marry before they are ready, to wives they would not otherwise have married—so often these marriages end in divorce. And sometimes tragically, the children grow up feeling that they were not wanted in the first place, thinking that they are a burden to their parents rather than a joy. Clearly, we as a society need to get a grip on this problem of unwanted teenage pregnancy, and the obvious solution is to encourage teens to be responsible and practice birth control. But we face so many choices in deciding which type of birth control to use. Condoms? IUDs? Diaphragms? DepoProvera injections? "The Pill"? Abortion? Abstinence? Which method of birth control is best?

Opposing view 1: Most people would likely say the best method of birth control today is the birth control pill. The pill is relatively easy to obtain through Planned Parenthood clinics, the price is reasonable, and the pill has an excellent record of success in pregnancy prevention. However, the pill places all the burden of birth control on women, and although it is usually the women who have the most to lose in unwanted pregnancy, shouldn't [GR1] men take some of the responsibility for birth control, too? Plus, the pill is something that users must remember to take every day, even if they do not engage in sex for months or years. The pill may have the added advantages of making menstrual cycles more regular and decreasing the intensity of a woman's periods, but as far as being purely a method of birth control, the pill has drawbacks, too. Besides being something that the user must remember to take each and every day regardless of the frequency of sexual activity, being on the pill involves visits to the doctor's office or to Planned Parenthood for annual or even more frequent exams and tests that may be unpleasant and cost more money.

Opposing views 2-6: Diaphragms? IUDs? DepoProvera Injections? These methods may do well at preventing pregnancy, but they, too, place all the burden of birth control on the woman. With diaphragms, many times they are not convenient at the exact moment that a woman wants to have sex. IUDs may be irritating or inconvenient to use, and they, too, require much planning ahead and expense. Injections also require planning ahead, and at least right now, they are extremely expensive. Abortion is a sure-fire way to terminate a pregnancy, but as birth control? The controversial moral issues aside, this [GR4] is an extremely expensive solution, and one that can be traumatic emotionally as well. Abstinence is the most absolutely certain method of birth control. But while for some people abstaining from sex (by choice or not) is fine, is this [GR4] realistic in our society today?

Author's view 1: All things considered, condoms are the best method of birth control, the most practical and effective. Condoms are cheap, and they are available in most convenience stores. Using condoms requires far less planning ahead than many of the other methods of birth control, and the use of condoms allows male partners to share in the responsibility of pregnancy prevention. Certain varieties of condoms may even enhance the whole experience of having sex, and in terms of money, people don't [GR1] use condoms except for the actual occasions when they are having sex. Some people say that statistically condoms do not have the same high rate of success in pregnancy prevention that other methods do. This [GR4] may be true, certainly as compared to abortion or abstinence, but the difference between the effectiveness of condoms versus the pill, for instance, is very small, a matter of a percentage point or two. Even the pill is not foolproof, and with the improvements in technology that are happening almost faster than we can keep up with, latex condoms have become far more an effective method of birth control than they once were, when condoms were famous for being ineffective. Some old myths linger on.

Author's view 2: Perhaps the single greatest advantage condoms have to offer is not a matter of birth control, though. STDs—sexually transmitted diseases: once upon a time they were a mere nuisance that a shot of penicillin could cure; now, with AIDS, STDs can kill. Unprotected sex today can be deadly. Aside from abstinence (get real!), condoms are the only protection we have today against STDs. We should use them.

Conclusion: We all know that birth control is important. Whatever the method, whether it be the pill, DP injections, condoms, diaphragms, or anything else, practicing responsible birth control reduces the number of potentially tragic unwanted pregnancies that lead to so many of the sad stories we all know. Because they prevent unwanted pregnancies, are available to everyone, and are our best protection against STDs, condoms are the single best method of birth control we have today. Since boys will always be boys, and girls will be girls, we need to practice safe sex by using condoms.

[This essay edited and posted with permission from Tansy Crawford.]