Hope Winfield’s essay focuses on different aspects surrounding the controversial pro-choice segment of the Catholic Church. Pro-choice activism within the Church emerged around the time following the Roe v. Wade decision. However, even after many requests to do so, the Church refused to acknowledge pro-choice beliefs and instead responded to pro-choice activists with hostility. Instead of accepting their position as dissenters, these activists continued to fight for their stance: that Catholicism means making these sorts of decisions by yourself, and trusting your own spirituality, instead of being told what constitutes an “ethical” decision. In her essay, Winfield takes the position of a historian as she analyzes many of the more specific arguments made by the pro-choice Catholics, explaining their rationale for their anger with the decision-making authorities of the Church. She analyzes and cites from many primary sources, including an encyclical published by Pope Paul VI that became the basis of the Church’s official pro-life stance and the controversial pro-choice Catholic manifesto. Winfield completely abstains from including her own opinions on the topic, but instead, like a true historian, simply rationalizes past events and makes new connections, such as correlating the peak of this activism with the feminist movement. To supplement the organization of her essay, Winfield effectively employs and transitions between subheadings, which are used to highlight each main idea and make her structure clear to the reader. Her writing in general is very clear and to-the-point, avoiding fancy elongated language, but occasionally using figurative language, such as “…came armed for battle with their new interpretations of what it meant to be Catholic”, which differentiates her writing from the standard monotonous history essay. Her entire conclusion was a prime example of figurative language; she ends her essay by thoughtfully comparing the struggles of the Catholic pro-choice activists against the hierarchal church to the colonists of the American Revolution. This unique ending leads the reader in a more philosophical state, as they are left with a “bigger picture” of Catholic pro-choice history.
Scientific writing is very comparable to historical writing in that it is most effective when it relies on straight facts and unbiased interpretation rather than individual opinion and rhetoric. In my own writing, I have learned to abstain from even the slightest exaggeration in order to try to communicate more factually. Related to this type of communication is clarity and conciseness, which we have been working in our scientific writing class. It defines Winfield’s paper and could probably be translated to almost all forms of academic writing as a way to more successfully communicate an argument or explain a topic. With factual writing come sources and citation, and Winfield’s paper exemplifies this, as a citation appears after almost every other sentence. She synthesizes material from a variety a sources, but makes each idea her own by drawing connections and offering well-supported motives. This is also an aspect of writing that I have been working on, during both major projects. Although a piece of historical writing, the techniques in Winfield’s essay can easily be translated as exemplary models for scientific writing, and for many other forms of academic writing as well.