A pregnant person should always have the right to abortion, regardless of circumstances.
Debate Rounds (3)
I believe that it is an issue of bodily autonomy (on the part of the pregnant person, not the fetus.) Regardless of the circumstances in which the fetus was conceived, whether there was consent present or not, it is up to the person carrying the fetus to decide whether to terminate the pregnancy.
If you want to enter this debate, you should believe that there are at least some cases when a pregnant person should not have the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
C1 R1: The fundamental argument laid out by Pro (PianoSandwich) is as follows: "I believe that it is an issue of bodily autonomy (on the part of the pregnant person, not the fetus.) Regardless of the circumstances in which the fetus was conceived, whether there was consent present or not, it is up to the person carrying the fetus to decide whether to terminate the pregnancy" (PianoSandwich, Round 1, Paragraph 2). As my main counter principle, I maintain that human life begins at the moment of conception and the fertilized female egg meets and exceeds the minimum scientific conditions for a form of life, making it morally wrong to terminate it under any circumstances.
C2 R1: The study of life occurs in the field of biology. Within biology, there are numerous different classifications of life such as cellular life, molecular life, and anatomical life (Margulis, 2014). I am assuming that the main scientific debate between Pro and me will occur over the issue of cellular life versus anatomical life (visible life forms). However, I would first like to strengthen my position by discussing the difference between life and inanimate matter. The attributes of living matter are responsiveness to stimuli, growth, a metabolism, energy transformation, and eventually the capability to reproduce (Margulis, 2014). Therefore, it does not matter whether living matter is visible to the naked human eye as long as it meets these conditions. These conditions clearly distinguish inanimate matter from living matter.
In the human life cycle, the process of reproduction requires cellular forms of life: sperm cells and the female egg (Margulis, 2014). When a sperm cell fertilizes an egg, they combine to make one living cellular organism and the human life process has started at the moment of conception. At the moment of conception, there will only be one fertilized egg as the female enters the first trimester of her pregnancy. This fertilized egg will react to stimuli. It will grow. It possesses a metabolism with definite condition for survival. It transforms energy and it will eventually develop the sexual organs necessary for reproduction. Consequently, it meets all of the definitions of living matter.
Scientifically, this proves that the fertilized egg is, without a doubt, a form of life. However, the real questions now become: Is the fertilized egg still cellular life or is it anatomical life? Technically, the fertilized egg at the moment of conception is not a single cell. It has an anatomy of two cells: the sperm cell and the egg cell. After conception, the life form never returns to its original single cell form. It begins to develop a more complete anatomy of cells. The strict, biological definition of anatomical life is a structured form of living matter that is visible to the naked eye (Margulis, 2014). However, doctors and biologists can see enough through modern technology to tell us that a fertilized egg has an anatomy of cells. Consequently, the fertilized egg must be classified as an anatomical form of life, which represents the start of the human life cycle.
C3 R1: In the first trimester of a pregnancy, the first things that develop from the fertilized egg are the heart, the brain, and the spinal cord. Each of these can distinctly be seen by week four of a woman"s pregnancy (http://www.womenshealth.gov...). Therefore, the developing fetus is not a mass of tissue. That fetus is a developing human being. It possesses all of the organs that the human race has considered the symbols of human vitality: the heart and the brain.
C4 R1: Bringing together all of the evidence I have outlined in the previous sections, a fetus is scientifically a human being. Morally? A fetus is an innocent, unborn human child who is completely helpless. PianoSandwich began the debate stating that he/she believed that a woman reserved the right to abort a fetus in cases such as rape or incest. Having established from a scientific basis that a fetus is without a doubt a living human, we must ask a very difficult question. What moral basis do we have for terminating the life of an unborn child whose only "crime" was to exist as the result of someone else"s evil deeds? We have no moral basis before God or in scientific laws to take the life of a human being that has not even interacted with others yet.
C5 R1: My question in the previous paragraph also leads to another interesting question. Abortion advocates loves to use rape as an example to prove why abortion should be legal. However, wouldn"t real justice take the form of executing the rapist instead of the fetus? The rapist committed the crime against the woman, not the conceived fetus. In the case of rape, true justice would execute the rapist and award his whole estate to the rape victim to support her and her unborn child. Since rape is also a crime that society must take responsibility for, the government would also be just in providing assistance to rape victims.
Conclusion: A fertilized egg meets all of the biological definitions for life. It is the first step in the human life cycle. Modern technology enables us to obtain conclusive evidence of a woman"s pregnancy and the subsequent development of the fetus. At every stage of her pregnancy, that fetus is unquestionably a human being. It has committed no crimes against people and it possesses the same natural rights that every person who has been born does: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There is no moral justification to rob anyone under any circumstances of those rights. Consequently, there is no moral or natural justification for abortion.
C1 R2: With regards to your C1, C2 & C3, I have no argument against the idea that the fertilized egg/fetus should be considered "human life". There is overwhelming scientific evidence, in my opinion, that a fertilized egg (and later a fetus) meet the requirements for both "organic life" and a "human being" (in the genetic sense).
C1a R2: Personhood
However, while the egg/fetus are both humans, I would not classify either one as a true "person." The distinction here is that while an egg/fetus has the same DNA as a child or adult (like you or I), they do not have the intellectual abilities that a person has. The ability of an egg/fetus to experience and interact with its environment is nowhere near that of a child, or even an infant.
As time goes on, the distinction becomes less clear, so the argument that a fetus is not a person is less persuasive as the gestational age of the fetus increases. It is much less easy to draw a distinction between the fetus and a child when a fetus becomes sustainable outside the womb. That said, (in the U.S.) the CDC has found that late term abortion make up about only 1% of abortions (CDC, 2008). I would also note that in the circumstances of late-term abortions, it is rarely a choice by the pregnant person to have such a late abortion. The most commonly cited reason for taking longer to get an abortion was inability to make arrangements quickly (59%) and this reason was cited about twice as frequently by poor women (Guttmacher, 2006).
My point here is that the closer the fetus comes to being a "person," the less likely a pregnant person is to abort, and if they are, it is often due to circumstances that are (at least in some way) beyond their control.
Why is the distinction between "human" and "person" so important in this context? It is based on personhood, by which we assign creatures the right to life (protected by law). There are no laws in most societies to protect non-human animals from violence. Many societies do have laws against animal cruelty, but even killing an animal for sport is not considered to be legally comparable to murder or even manslaughter (unintentional killing). The likelihood of an animal' life being legally protected by society generally increases with how close they come to personhood. Cats and dogs, who are common companions to people and (though cognitively very different from humans) share some forms of communication with humans are more likely to be protected under animal abuse laws. This is because we have a better understanding of these animals in the sense that we recognize that they have thoughts and feelings and are able to interact with their environments on a more cognitive level than, say, a fish or a slug.
C1b R2: Choice
Without the cognitive abilities of a person, a fetus/fertilized egg cannot make choices and it is impossible to know what the fetus' choice would be, if it were capable of making one. The fetus may grow into an adult (such as myself) who argues staunchly for reproductive justice and agree that the pregnant person carrying it should have the right to choose abortion. Or it might not. We have no way of knowing.
The pregnant person, however, has a much higher ability to interact with its environment and the ability to make choices and consent (or not consent) to an abortion. Not every pregnant person wants an abortion. The person has to make a choice, based on their environment. If we want to value the autonomy of an individual, we must support the choice of a person who is demonstrating having an opinion on the circumstances before the inability to choose of a creature who has no ability to make a choice.
C2 R2: Autonomy
However, even if we assume that all fertilized eggs/fetuses have personhood equal to that of a birthed child and they would all choose to force their biological parent to carry the pregnancy to birth (which I do not believe is a solid assumption, based on the reasons given in C1) I still do not believe this is sufficient justification for denying a person the right to an abortion.
Given this faulty premise, we would assume the pseudo-child has autonomy only equal to (not greater than) the pregnant person's. If we assume they are both cognitively functioning humans, and that all human life has equal right to life, and that were the fetus able to make the choice they would be anti-choice, then that is still a 1 vs. 1 debate.
I do not believe that a pregnant person should have the inalienable right to end the fetus' life simply for the purposes of ending life. I do not believe a pregnant person should have the right to enter a hospital a take eggs stored for in vitro fertlization (IVF) and smash them on the ground simply because they do not agree with the idea of human pregnancy.
However, a pregnant person (like any other person, save for criminal's on death row) does have the inalienable right to bodily autonomy. This includes the right to choose what they will allow (or disallow) within their own body. If a pregnant person desires the removal of an object (in this case: the egg/fetus) from their uterus, they have the right to remove that object. If it is necessary, due to the lack of technology or access to technology, that the egg/fetus dies in this process that is regrettable. Most people do not desire to end the life of a fetus. Usually, if a person has the choice between having an abortion and not getting pregnant to begin with, they will choose to not get pregnant.
To be clear, though, as regrettable as the loss of life of the abortum is, we cannot allow the grief associated with that event to justify taking away the autonomy of a person. "Two wrongs don't make a right." I do not deny that human life is sacred, but I would argue that human autonomy is equally sacred, when it comes to the right to make choices about your body.
If we decide that there are some circumstances where people are no longer allowed to choose to remove an invasive, foreign being from their own body, then I believe we lose our solid foundation for morality at all.
C3 R2: Inevitability
My final point that I would like to make is about the inevitability of abortion, miscarriage and loss of human life. Even if you disagree with my C1 and C2, I think this point is still persuasive. Let's say that you disagree with C2 because you don't think deciding a moral system should be in the hands of humans themselves, but it should be derived from a higher power beyond our control. I personally do not agree with this idea, but I don't think it is unfathomable.
If there is some force of nature or a "higher power" that rules that abortion is morally unacceptable, then what should we do about the unintentional abortions (a.k.a. miscarriages) that, as humans, we do not yet have control over? Unless you argue that miscarriages are an intentional means of causing suffering by gods, God or nature, and that we should hold pregnant people legally responsible for miscarriage, it must be accepted that abortions (whether intentional on the part of the carrier or not), while tragic, are a natural part of life.
When an abortion happens, whether intentional or not, there is no denying the sadness and grief that accompanies the loss of human life and potential personhood. I would never tell a grieving person who miscarried that they should just "get over it" because it was never really a child anyway. Abortions are never the ideal solution. I would much rather that abortions were prevented by providing the necessary medical care, resources and education. However, in our grief for the loss of a potential child, we must not allow ourselves to sacrifice the autonomy of a person who already exists.
Conclusion: Abortion is a tragedy, but that does not justify retracting an individual's autonomy. A fertilized egg does not have personhood, therefore it does not have a person's autonomy. Even if a fetus nears personhood, it is still inhabiting the body of another person, who has the right to expel it if they desire. Rather than preventing (sometimes inevitable) abortions by taking away the autonomy of existing persons, we should focus on providing people what they need to avoid unintentional pregnancy to begin with.
With the utmost respect, I must point out that PianoSandwich made a critical mistake in regard to the natural right to life in his counter. He/she said the following: "It is based on personhood, by which we assign creatures the right to life (protected by law)" (PianoSandwich, Round 2, Paragraph 6). This implies that the right to life is something that is defined by society. There is no doubt that a society can make statutory laws to define how the government will protect life. However, the natural right to life is something that cannot be determined by the human race.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, natural law is defined as follows: "a system of right or justice held to be common to all humans and derived from nature rather than from the rules of society, or positive law" (http://www.britannica.com...). Regardless of the statues that a society can pass, natural law applies to every form of human life. The question of personhood is not one that can be solved scientifically or medically. It is strictly a philosophical question. My contention is that human life assumes personhood as soon as the human life cycle starts. Why? They have immediately obtained the rights that are defined under the fundamental natural law of human nature.
Response to C1bR2: Choice
In John Locke"s interpretation, humans possess three natural rights and these natural rights were clearly expressed in the Declaration of Independence: the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to pursue happiness. The role of statutory law in interpreting these rights is to ensure that one person"s exercise of their natural rights does not infringe on another person"s natural rights. When natural rights clash, they take the following precedence: the right to life over the right to liberty and the right to liberty over the pursuit of happiness.
Since natural law inherent in human nature, it must begin at the start of the human life cycle: conception. Consequently, a fetus obtains the right to life at the moment of its conception since the human life cycle has begun. Going back to the precedence principle in the previous paragraph, a pregnant woman"s natural rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness do not give her the right or the moral justification to violate a fetus"s natural right to life. The fetus"s natural right to life takes priority over the other natural rights of the mother and her individual autonomy.
Aborting a fetus may not be a violation of statutory law, but it is a definite violation of natural law. I don"t know how many people reading this are religious or believe in after life; however, the logical conclusion of natural law is that all humans will be held accountable for their treatment of natural law in after-life. How else could it be? A law is not a law unless there are consequences for breaking it. The consequences may not be immediate but there must be consequences for breaking a law. Otherwise, a law becomes simply a set of ideals that humans can choose to ignore at their pleasure.
Response to C2 R2: Autonomy
A woman"s choice over her body does exist, but not during her pregnancy. She must make her choice on her pregnancy before having sex unprotected by a condom to prevent pregnancy. Consequently, she must consider the consequences of a pregnancy and take appropriate steps to prevent a pregnancy without violating her fetus"s natural rights. By engaging in unprotected sex, she is essentially "signing" her consent before nature that she does not mind conceiving a child and bringing it into the world.
Using statutory law principles here for a moment, the act of commission in consensual sex (in rape, the act of commission rests with the rapist) took place completely at the behest of the woman. In no case did the fetus have a chance to affect the process. Since there is no liability on the part of the fetus for acts of commission or acts of omission, the fetus did not have a choice on whose body it was going to inhabit. The liability (responsibility) rests with the woman (the rapist in rape cases).
Going back to a previous section, the fetus"s natural right to life takes precedent over the mother"s right to liberty (control over her body). Furthermore, the mother exercised her right to control her body by allowing a male"s sperm cells into her body.
Counter to C3 R2: Inevitability
With all due respect to PianoSandWich, arguing that unintentional miscarriages that a human does not have control over can somehow be used to justify a deliberate termination of human life (abortion) is to completely eliminate the divide between natural forces and deliberate human interference. Natural law governs human actions. However, it cannot prevent natural forces.
A miscarriage is the loss of a pregnancy in the first 20 weeks, sometimes referred to spontaneous abortion in medical journals (http://www.babycenter.com...). Why do they occur? Between 50 and 70 of first trimester miscarriages normally are the result of chromosomal abnormalities in the egg (http://www.babycenter.com...). Other reasons may include an egg that didn"t implant properly in the uterus or an embryo that had structural defects.
If you look at each of those causes, they are the result of "natural" mutations. There is no way a woman can affect them. She can only follow the advice of her doctors to ensure the most successful pregnancy possible. No one"s natural rights are violated in this case. However, if a pregnancy is terminated by human intervention, natural law governing human rights and human behavior has been violated.
pianosandwich forfeited this round.
Since PianoSandwich could not post in Round 3, I will limit myself to a quick summary of what I covered in the previous rounds and a closing statement. Biologically, the human life cycle begins at the moment of conception because it meets all of the definitions for living matter. The fertilized egg will react to stimuli and grow. It possesses a metabolism and it is able to transform energy. As I pointed out in C3 R1, the first things that develop from a fertilized brain are the heart, the brain, and the spinal cord. The heart and the brain are the traditional symbols of human life and they form first in the human life cycle. Therefore, a fertilized egg and a developing fetus must be classified as a living human being instead of a mass of tissue.
Every human being obtains the rights granted to the human race under natural law as soon as the human life cycle starts. The rights granted under natural law are the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to pursue happiness. These rights take the following precedence: the right to life supersedes the right to liberty and the right to pursue happiness and the right to liberty supersedes the right to pursue happiness. Under this natural "legal" precedence, a woman"s right to control her own body (the right to liberty) must yield to the fetus"s right to life. Consequently, science and natural law prove that abortion is wrong morally and naturally.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro ff a round, so conduct to Con.
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