The Instigator
Grape
Pro (for)
Winning
43 Points
The Contender
Rockylightning
Con (against)
Losing
14 Points

Abortion Should Be Legal

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/14/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,556 times Debate No: 12053
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (12)
Votes (14)

 

Grape

Pro

Rockylightning has asked that I challenge him to a debate, so I chose to offer a challenge concerning the first "Big Issue" on which we disagree.

The next round will be for Rockylightning to indicate that he has accepted the challenge. The debate will start in round 2 and will consist of a total of 3 debating rounds.

For all intents and purposes, I mean legal in the United States. If any other clarification is required, please ask in the first round acceptance or the comments section. I have no particular preference for rules or format.
Rockylightning

Con

No problems. Please start.
Debate Round No. 1
Grape

Pro

Resolved: Abortion should be legal.

Introduction: I am going to clear up a few details immediately. One argument that has been used against abortion to the point of becoming ubiquitous in such debates is that there is little significant difference between the mental or physiological status of a fetus days prior to birth and an infant days after birth. This is used against the traditional liberal argument that the significant moral break in the development of the fetus occurs with its biological separation with the mother. For the most part I do not accept the liberal argument, but that in and of itself does not help to refute the resolution that abortion should be legal. If it is illegal to abort a pregnancy after a certain point, it was still at some point legal. To make an analogy, the fact that it is illegal to drive while intoxicated does not support the resolution that driving is illegal. Legality can be subject to circumstance.

Argument 1: Depending on the debate, I will typically uphold that it is morally wrong to kill a person. However, I am quite careful about using the term person instead of the term human. The status of being of one species or another does not logically have any moral value. So I will present my own argument for what ought to be considered a person and leave my opponent to address it:

I define a person as an individual, morally conscious being capable of forming a complex thought and possessing the capacity (but not necessarily the ability) to communicate such thoughts via a language. This definition will include all humans that are not serious impaired mentally but will not include any inanimate objects or nonhuman animals. Moral consciousness, thought, and language are all more valuable and relevant characteristics for determining personhood than the genetic characteristic of being human.

Under this definition, a fetus that is not sufficiently developed would not be considered a human because it would lack the cognitive abilities. On the other hand, an infant is moral conscious and capable of complex thought on some limited level and possesses the capacity to learn a language with which it can express such thoughts. Therefore it is perfectly legal to kill an underdeveloped fetus but not an infant. The exact point at which the fetus would be considered a person may be subject to debate, but that is irrelevant as long as at some point after pregnancy begins the fetus is not a person.

Argument 2: There are pragmatic reasons why it would sometimes be logical to abort a fetus. If the fetus is diagnosed as having a fatal condition that would make the pregnancy pointless, there is no reason to force additional physical and mental stress on the mother. If the pregnancy presented a serious risk to the survival of the mother, than likewise it would be reasonable to abort. The value of the life of the child is of no greater value than the mother's, and the status of being pregnant does not innately impose any obligation to endure extreme suffering and physical risk on the behalf of another individual. In these cases, even if the fetus were considered a person it would still be rational to abort the pregnancy.

Conclusion: At this point I have not presented many arguments because I believe that considering my opponent's (comparatively) liberal views this will be a nonstandard abortion debate and I am not going to try to anticipate where it will head. Also, because I am not certain on what my opponent's position will, I will not object if he wants to concede my second argument and remove it from the debate. I have other arguments that may better address his views and I expect there will be enough controversy over my first argument for the next round anyway.

Sources:

I drew extensively from The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, particularly the articles on Abortion and The Political Philosophy of John Locke.
Rockylightning

Con

Refutations:

Argument 1:
It may not be an individual with an identity, I give you that. But a fetus has the potential of being a human, therefore is on it's way to becoming one, therefore it has the same value.

Argument 2: I concede this argument.

Arguments:

I am here to debate the motion abortion should be legal.

Contention 1:
Fetuses are humans in the making.
A human fetus has the same value as a human life (as stated previously). For the reason that it has the potential to become one. It WILL have an identity and it WILL have consciousness. Just not yet.

My arguments are short but I am saving clash for the later rounds.

-Thanks!
Debate Round No. 2
Grape

Pro

Introduction: My opponent has not offered a very substantial argument so I am going to limit myself to what is necessary to address his refutations. I will not be bringing additional arguments into this round because I believe Arguments One and Two already adequately defend my case.

Argument 1: I will first note that no counterargument to my definition of personhood has been offered. My opponent has thus far concede that my definition of personhood is sufficient. The only counterargument that is offered here is a reference to this first argument. My actual point about that is considered a person (and thus possessing rights) has not been contested and will stand when my opponent's argument is refuted.

Argument 2: My opponent has conceded this argument, but I do not consider this a mark against him since I did not know whether it was applicable to his position. I urge voters to disregard this point and focus on Argument 1.

Now, to address my opponent's contention:

Contention 1: What my opponent offers it the classic argument of potentiality. He says if a fetus may become a human, it should have the rights of a human. By human I assume he means person since I am not disputing that a fetus is a human, only that all humans should not be considered people. Moving on, however:

The fact that a fetus has the potential to have be a person does not give it the rights a person has. This point is fairly easy to understand. I have the (uncertain) potential to one day become the President of the United States. The President, of course, is Commander in Chief and has the right to command the United States Army. Does this give me the right, at this very moment, to command the United States Army? Of course not. Even the President Elect, who is certain barring terrible circumstances to become President, does not command the army until his inauguration.

This may seem like an extreme example, but the argument is simple: rights are not granted based on the potentiality of having them. Prisoners do not walk free because they will one day be released from jail. The rights of a person are granted upon the status of being a person, not on the potentiality of being a person.

The excessive certainty with which my opponent claims a fetus "WILL" become a person is of course hyperbolic. A woman could walk out of a clinic after being denied an abortion and be struck by a car immediately. There is not certainty that a fetus will become a person, and even if there was the rights of a person would still not be granted until the fetus actually achieved that status.

By this reasoning, ever human gamete (including eggs that may never even have the potential to be fertilized) out to have some form of rights because they have some potential to become people. The difference between a fetus and an unfertilized gamete varies only in degree. Both are nonpeople which have the potential to become people. That fact that one has complete diploid human DNA and the other does not is irrelevant, as I have demonstrated in Argument 1.

Conclusion:

Anything that has the potential to be a person is does not have the rights of a person. A fetus is not a person and regardless of "potential" it does not have the rights of a person. I would consider it an extremely bad idea to start determining value based on potential future value. Otherwise, I will be adding that this is my medical opinion because I have the potential to someday become a doctor.

Sources:

I drew further from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. I also cite myself, potential Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University; my PhD dissertation was written on value theory.
Rockylightning

Con

\\\only that all humans should not be considered people.///
What? Please explain.

\\\This point is fairly easy to understand. I have the (uncertain) potential to one day become the President of the United States. The President, of course, is Commander in Chief and has the right to command the United States Army. Does this give me the right, at this very moment, to command the United States Army? Of course not. Even the President Elect, who is certain barring terrible circumstances to become President, does not command the army until his inauguration.///

This argument is invalid for this reason: An unborn baby is most certainly going to be born, you are on the other hand, are not very likely to be a presidential candidate. And unborn baby has a 99% chance of being born, while you might have a .00001 chance of being elected president. Therefore the unborn baby should have rights.

\\\There is not certainty that a fetus will become a person, and even if there was the rights of a person would still not be granted until the fetus actually achieved that status.///

This argument is invalid because this is a hypothetical argument. We do not know that the child will be killed, therefore we must assume that the child will live (because the majority do). If the child will live, then we should give it the rights of a child.

\\\By this reasoning, ever human gamete (including eggs that may never even have the potential to be fertilized) out to have some form of rights because they have some potential to become people. The difference between a fetus and an unfertilized gamete varies only in degree. Both are nonpeople which have the potential to become people. That fact that one has complete diploid human DNA and the other does not is irrelevant, as I have demonstrated in Argument 1.///

A human egg has no rights because it is in step one... once the egg becomes a fetus, it is on its way to becoming human. Like with your presidential example, once the president is on his way to becoming president, (he is being inaugurated) then he should be given the rights of the president.

Conclusion: Once a fetus is on its way to becoming a human is when it [should] gain rights. The if the mother was too careless to use some form of birth control that's her fault. Ask yourself this: Which would you rather have, a baby with no chance to live, or a baby that had a chance to live but couldn't because it was killed. Even both will not live, it is much more cruel to kill the baby that had the chance.

Thanks for this debate grape!

\\\I also cite myself, potential Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University///
That's awesome! Now I can site you in public speaking debate, "According to Professor Grape, potential teacher of Philosophy at Cambridge University.

Now for the rebuttals! (after grape goes again)

Kfc
Debate Round No. 3
Grape

Pro

Introduction: In the previous round my opponent changed the format so that rather than being based around individual arguments, it is simply string of quotations. As a result, I will change to mimic this style and avoid confusing. However, I would advise against doing this in the future because it makes it more confusing for voters who may wish to refer back to pints alluded to in previous rounds.

"What? Please explain."

This comment was made in response to my claim that "all humans should not be considered people." I clearly outlined this stance in Round 2, the first debating round, under argument one. I think it is clear enough not to require additional explanation.

"This argument is invalid for this reason: An unborn baby is most certainly going to be born, you are on the other hand, are not very likely to be a presidential candidate. And unborn baby has a 99% chance of being born, while you might have a .00001 chance of being elected president. Therefore the unborn baby should have rights."

Your examples vary only in degree, not in principle. The exact probability of something happening does not matter. The point is that it is a future event that has not yet happened. A child does not have the right to vote because it may someday have the right to vote. A fetus does not have the right to live just because it might gain that right at some point in the future. In fact, even if it was somehow a complete metaphysical certainty that the fetus would be born, it would STILL not have the right to life before being a person.

"This argument is invalid because this is a hypothetical argument. We do not know that the child will be killed, therefore we must assume that the child will live (because the majority do). If the child will live, then we should give it the rights of a child."

No, this argument is not hypothetical at all. Again, I am not talking about what the probability is. I am talking about the fact that we don't give it the rights of a child on the basis that it will someday be a child. What it will be doesn't matter because right now the fetus is not a person. Whether or not the child actually is killed is irrelevant.

"A human egg has no rights because it is in step one... once the egg becomes a fetus, it is on its way to becoming human. Like with your presidential example, once the president is on his way to becoming president, (he is being inaugurated) then he should be given the rights of the president."

This is all completely arbitrary. How do you know the egg is step one? Why is the oogonium (the diploid cell that produces the egg through oogenesis) not step one? Does the primary oocyte count as an egg, can it be step one? Why is the ovum step one? The ovum is further on its way to becoming a human than the oogonium. These questions, of course, are irrelevant. The designations that my opponent is trying to make are completely arbitrary.

The only difference between a fetus and a gamete is that the fetus has diploid DNA from two individuals instead of haploid DNA from one individual. There are absolutely no other significant differences. Either has the potential to develop into a human given the right circumstances, but both can become a human ONLY if the circumstances are acceptable. The gamete must be fertilized, the fetus must be kept in an acceptable environment, etc. This assumption seems to be based off the fallacy that conception is the turning point in development. However, this is a completely arbitrary point to choose. The fact still remains that neither the fetus nor the gamete has the qualities of a person and this neither should be given the rights of a person. The distinctions made between the two in terms of potentiality are completely arbitrary.

Furthermore, the presidential analogy is not applicable. Once the President is inaugurated, he IS President. What your logic suggests is that the President Elect should have the full powers of the presidency immediately since his chances of becoming President in the future meet some arbitrary and irrelevant cutoff.

"Conclusion: Once a fetus is on its way to becoming a human is when it [should] gain rights. The if the mother was too careless to use some form of birth control that's her fault. Ask yourself this: Which would you rather have, a baby with no chance to live, or a baby that had a chance to live but couldn't because it was killed. Even both will not live, it is much more cruel to kill the baby that had the chance."

This demonstrates the crux of the flaw in these argument. It suffers from two huge problems: what something will be in the future has no bearing on its current status and there is no way to define what is on it's way to being human.

The fact that birth control is available does not have anything to do with to morality of killing an undeveloped human. This is a common red herring in such arguments. There could be no birth control or a birth control that worked 100% of the time. The morality of killing fetuses is unaffected.

Furthermore, it is not cruel to kill the fetus because it does not even possess the desire to live. It's brain is hardly so developed as to have an concept of life or death.

Conclusion:

I hope voters will be able to understand what I mean to say about the argument of potentiality. The future value of something does not affect it's current value. It might be wise to keep a 10 dollar stock that will likely rise to 40 dollars, but that does not mean the 10 dollar stock can be sold for 40 dollars prior to the increase in value. Likewise, it may be pragmatically better to keep a fetus because it will become a person, but while a fetus it is not yet a person and should not be treated as such.

Nowhere in either of the two rounds has my opponent contested that the fetus is not a person. I would consider it unsporting to raise this argument in the final round when I can no longer response after having withheld it thus far. We can agree that a fetus is not presently a person. I feel I have adequately demonstrated that it's potential future status of personhood does not have any effect on its present value and subsequently the principle of abortion is upheld as morally sound.

Much of the opposition to abortion, I think, comes from negative social views of women. It is rarely the crux of the argument, but seldom is their a pro-life debate without a reference to whether the mother should have been using birth control or having sex at all. The decisions of the father, of course, not not brought into question as quickly.

A society in which a promiscuous woman is called a "slut" and a promiscuous man is hailed as a hero is unlikely to produce positive views toward abortion. The disdain for female sexuality is an undeniably strong factor. Actual arguments concerning the rights of the fetus, as in this case, are rarely upheld successfully. They are based on logically irrational premises which survive only due to the readers prejudices.

The fetus does not have rights. The argument of potentiality is not applicable to any situation, it does not work logically. It has repeated been formally disproved and is not accepted. Joel Feinberg addressed this issue in 1984 and his argument has been accepted by philosophical professors since then. Outside of poorly informed banter there is little argument over whether or not the argument of potentiality proves abortion is immoral. It doesn't, because it doesn't prove anything, because it doesn't work logically. Plain and simple.

The argument of potentiality is my opponent's only argument. That argument fails.

I am sorry for the long winded, repetitious round. I do not want to lose this debate because voters do not understand this concept, which for those lacking any experience judging philosophy may be very complex.
Rockylightning

Con

\\\The exact probability of something happening does not matter.///
It does. The probability of a baby being born is much larger than you becoming president.

\\\I am talking about the fact that we don't give it the rights of a child on the basis that it will someday be a child. What it will be doesn't matter because right now the fetus is not a person. Whether or not the child actually is killed is irrelevant.///

If its irrelevant, then why did you bring it up in the first place?

\\\This is all completely arbitrary. How do you know the egg is step one? Why is the oogonium (the diploid cell that produces the egg through oogenesis) not step one? Does the primary oocyte count as an egg, can it be step one? Why is the ovum step one? The ovum is further on its way to becoming a human than the oogonium. These questions, of course, are irrelevant. The designations that my opponent is trying to make are completely arbitrary.///

An egg is step one because it has become fertilized. Simple.

\\\Furthermore, the presidential analogy is not applicable.///
You brought it up...

\\\Once the President is inaugurated, he IS President///
Inauguration, in this analogy, is the status of being developed.

\\\The fact that birth control is available does not have anything to do with to morality of killing an undeveloped human. This is a common red herring in such arguments. There could be no birth control or a birth control that worked 100% of the time. The morality of killing fetuses is unaffected.///

\\\It might be wise to keep a 10 dollar stock that will likely rise to 40 dollars, but that does not mean the 10 dollar stock can be sold for 40 dollars prior to the increase in value.///

The first part is more realistic. Let me clarify, lets say your 10 dollars is your baby, there is a %99.99 chance that your 10 dollars will become 40, so therefore you should treat it like 40 dollars, because it momentarily will become 40 dollars. But if you burn your 10 dollars, you wont have 40 dollars later.

Let me make this easy to understand. Lets say your in a factory making steel beams.
Liquid steel can represent an unborn baby. Steel beams represent a born baby.
While the molten steel ISNT a solid steel beam, it WILL become one. What I'm trying to say is that if you just threw away (or killed) the molten steel, you wouldn't have the solid steel in the future.

Here's the connection, lets say you let it be developed into solid steel, then destroyed that steel beam. You have no solid steel beam.

See the connection here? If you kill the beam in the beginning, it would be dead in the future the same time a solid steel beam would be dead if it was killed. Therefore, killing the liquid steel is the same as killing solid steel.

Therefore, killing unborn babies has the same impact as killing live babies.

The motion is disproved.
Debate Round No. 4
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Rockylightning 6 years ago
Rockylightning
votebombing ftw lavender falling
Posted by Rockylightning 6 years ago
Rockylightning
thanks for reminding me grape...
Posted by Grape 6 years ago
Grape
I would like to remind Rockylightning and voters that it is considered unsporting for him to introduce new arguments in the final round when I cannot address them at all. The final round is meant for rebuttals. That is not to say I think he will do something on purpose, but he said in round 1 that he was saving arguments for later and then never brought up new arguments in round 2. I would not want him to make this mistake unintentionally by bringing up these arguments in round 3. Best of luck rebutting.
Posted by alicewood5 6 years ago
alicewood5
As of now, I concur with 'koolaid1985'. The arguments in this debate are rather weak; hopefully that will change.
Posted by koolaid1985 6 years ago
koolaid1985
I am 100% against abortion, for this reason there are people who can't have children who would love to have the opportunity to have a child. If a woman is raped and gets pregnant and does not want to keep the child then she can give it up for adoption. No one has the right to take a life.
Posted by Rockylightning 6 years ago
Rockylightning
The Flying Spaghetti Monster is reaching its noodly appendage out to you. Will you reach out yours?
Posted by Rockylightning 6 years ago
Rockylightning
Quiet Kinesis
Posted by Kinesis 6 years ago
Kinesis
With, one would hope, an actual response.
Posted by Rockylightning 6 years ago
Rockylightning
wow quick reply, i shall reply tomorrow.
Posted by Rockylightning 6 years ago
Rockylightning
quiet kiniesis
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