The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Abortion Should Get the Same Penalty As First Degree Murder

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/7/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,994 times Debate No: 31066
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




1. You must argue against this stance BUT you must argue it from a pro-life perspective. You must defend the view that abortion is murder and should be illegal but argue that it should be treated definitely from ordinary murder.

A woman who gets an abortion has made a plan, she planned for her baby to die and she knows he baby will die after the abortion. The doctor knows this too. The law should hold both liable for murder in the first degree and they should be sentenced the same way any first degree murderer would be.


Thanks for the interesting proposition, Pro.

Like my opponent, my opening argument will be short. My advocacy will be primarily that even from a pro-life perspective, abortion ought not be treated the same as first degree murder of another individual. First lets define first degree murder as murder both premeditated and willful[1].

Even if abortion is morally equivalent to murder, there are three reasons that it ought not be the legal equivalent of first degree murder; recall that since I'm arguing from a pro-life perspective, the ideal is to convict as many women engaging in abortion as possible.

The first reason is lowered conviction rates/commutations. Remember that the resolution presumes the legitimacy of the pro-life worldview hence fetuses are human; however the mothers aborting their fetuses clearly do not think so . What this means is that their lawyers can, and will, plead that their inability to recognize this fact constitutes insanity/lack of moral culpability. Recall that first degree murder is defined as both premeditated and willful. My opponents argument is incorrect because these women getting the abortions do *not* believe that they are killing a human, and as such the conviction rate for their crimes will go down as their inability to recognize basic humanity could easily be used. The supreme court has consiently ruled in favor of restrictions on the maximum penalties on the mentally impaired, and as such many women would get off due to the fact that it isnt premeditated--you cant premeditate a murder of a non human. It would be an act of insanity.

The second reason is the necessity of abortion in some cases. A woman aborting a child in a health situation (where she would die if she did not abort) is not doing so willfully, and as such treating abortion as first degree murder would not yield the same conviction rates.
The third reason is cost.The costs to imprison/execute people in the US is astronomical. Re-education as to why abortion is bad is a better solution for first time offenders than first degree murder penalties.

Debate Round No. 1


1. A philosophical disagreement is not insanity. Otherwise anybody could commit murder and say "your honor I believe that no one is entitled to the right to life" and get off with "not guilty by reason of insanity". If abortion is treated the same as first degree the law will be written to carefully say that it prohibits the killing of human persons from the moment of conception and that the fetus shall be regarded as a fetus for the purposes of the law. While "insanity" is often oversimplified as "not knowing the difference between right and wrong" if this were literally how it was implemented one could claim that one's worldview sees one's action as being "right" on any given law and that therefore one is insane. If a voice in a woman's head says "get an abortion or else..." then that's different, but if she gets an abortion because she believes that the fetus inside her doesn't deserve to have the right to life, tough. She still knows what the law says on the matter and if she doesn't ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it.

2. Health reasons is the same as self-defense. This of course would be clarified, but just like if you must kill a grown person or else they will cause you to die then it's legal so too should that apply to unborn babies.

3. The unborn baby is an equal human being with an equal right to life. If a woman has a baby and kills it and it was planned it's first-degree murder. We are drastically short-changing justice if we treat the deliberate killing of the unborn baby as less serious than the deliberate killing of a born person.


My case

1. Premeditation/conviction rates

Con misunderstands the argument. To affirm the resolution, every abortion must be treated the exact same and tried as first degree murder, as specified in the opening round. The reason that this is impossible is due to the fact that the abortion is *not* premeditated murder. In order to be premeditated there has to be a preponderence on the act, and many of these women simply cannot and will not recognize the fetus as a human. In some cases, it has been driven into their heads over and over again that these fetuses are not human, and as such do not meet the qualifications for first degree murder. Pro also argues that " If a voice in a woman's head says "get an abortion or else..." then that's different", but it isn't. Nowhere in the resolution or specfications are exceptions allowed, and as such you negate right here. Pro essentially conceded. Moreover pro-abortion sentiment is still high in this country, in many cases the juries will refuse to convict if the only available sentences are death or life imprisonment as with first degree murder. Con argues about short changing justice, but executing women who get abortions is a great way to shortchange justice, even under the Pro-life worldview.

2. Willfullness

Con argues against the health reasons by stating that self defense is legal, and this falls under that. First of all, no. The inherent absurdity of the Pro-life position is it's presumption that other people best know what ought to be done with anothers body despite not knowing their personal situtation. The fact of the matter is that the resolution doesnt allow for exeptions, and since we cannot know for sure which abortions were committed willfully, we cant try to convict them on first degree murder charges as they dont always meet the criteria. Homicide in the status quo is clear-cut, abortion is fuzzy. There are different degrees of murder and, even to a pro-lifer, abortion is not at the same moral status as first degree murder.

3. Cost

Pro makes no response to the cost point other than its "short-changing justice". Unfortunately for Pro, the costs of trying every woman getting an abortion for first degree murder would literally bankrupt the country and short change all justice. It's better to have some justice than none. Lets do some math. There are an estimated 1.3 million abortions in the US every year[1]. Lets cut that down to 500,000 to compensate for people not getting caught and jury nullification. The costs to house each criminal per year average about 22,000[2]. Lets assume most of these women have 50 years on average to live still, 22,000x50=1.1 million for each individual. 1.1 million x 500,000 means the total cost to house women convicted of abortion each year would be 550,000,000,000. Over half a trillion over all for persons convicted each year. This is not even counting trial costs, which can be upwards of several million in capital cases[3]. This would literally bankrupt the country and the justice system allowing for no justice to occur. Thus you negate.



Debate Round No. 2


MasturDbtor forfeited this round.


Extend all arguments, vote Con
Debate Round No. 3


1. CON is taking things out of context

Any rational reading of what I said under "Argument" would imply that I'm only talking about women who plan to have an abortion. I also said "the same way any first degree murderer would be". A person who killed with a plan but it was in self-defense, say someone escaping from a kidnapper would not be held guilty of first degree murder. Treating the cases the same means applying the same standards, so "self-defense" applies when the alleged victim is an adult, therefore it applies when the alleged victim is a fetus too.
It also means that any cases where insanity defense would apply in the case of the murder of an adult would also apply to cases of a woman who murdered her unborn baby, although that doesn't mean she'd be free to have her abortion, she'd go to a psychiatric ward just like someone who is "not guilty by reason of insanity" for murdering an adult.

2."Preponderence of the Act"

The woman knows that that lump of tissue in her body(it's a lump of tissue as surely as you and I are, I'm just arguing that all these lumps of tissues deserve equal rights and treatment in our justice system) will die if aborted. She also knows that the law says the lump of tissue is legally considered a "person" so she knows that the ACT, the thing she is actually doing is against the law. Her personal feelings about whether the law is right to regard a fetus as a person and try people who kill it for murder are irrelevant.

It would be like if someone was caught with marijuana and then argue in court that they are not guilty because they thought it was an herb and not a drug. Similarly the woman may consider aborting the baby to be a medical procedure and not murder but she knew the law's stance on it, she knew what the consequences could be. If she disagreed with the law, well that's no excuse for breaking it. She knew the risk she was taking in breaking it.

3. Jury screening.
Prosecutors will be aware of the possibility for pro-choice jurors to refuse to convict, and will make sure all jurors agree with the law.


"The inherent absurdity of the Pro-life position is it's presumption that other people best know what ought to be done with anothers body despite not knowing their personal situtation."

Con REFUSED to abide my rule that he must argue from a pro-life perspective. Right here Con presents as pro-choice.

5. Not the same moral status?
The woman plans to end the life (which is real as established by science, the only legitimate debate is over whether it is a person not over whether it is alive) of the fetus. If you are pro-life, if you believe that the fetus is a person how can you not support giving it the same moral status?

6. Con says we won't be able to catch every single woman. We don't catch every single murderer, rapist, thief, should we just not have any laws?

And what about all the women who will be deterred from doing it in the first place and the lives that will save?



Let's clear some stuff up.


Pro for one reason or another wants the debate to come down to rules. He claims that I have failed to negate the resolution from a pro-life perspective simply because I pointed out the absurdity I find in the position to begin with. The problem with Pros line of reasoning is two-fold: First is that if you actually read my arguments in context, you'll see that I was pointing out my personal issue with the resolution to bring out clearly that even from a pro-life perspective (a perspective I generally endorse) abortion is no black and white, good vs evil kind of issue like first degree murder is. It is as grey as it gets. This is why there are varying degrees of murder to begin with, to attempt to compensate at least partially for all the grey in justice. Secondly, its not like the comment constitutes a rejection of the pro-life position in my explicit advocacy (IE the claim, warrant, evidence, and impacts behind my three contentions) at the very best for Pro it represents an anomally that needs to be ignored, but if you actually take it in context Pro is woefully incorrect.

Moreover there's nothing stated in the rules that a small slip up (it wasnt an advocacy of pro-choice, but even if you buy Pros argument that it was) is enough for an auto loss. Pro already forfeited a round, so if anything we've both broken a rule and you leave conduct as a tie.


Con has completely dropped this argument in two rounds in a row now. Extend it all the way across and vote Con on the fact that it would be literally impossible to afford giving all women who have abortions the same penalty as first degree murder even under my low-ball estimate. Doing so would bankrupt the country and justice system, allowing for no justice to occur.

Exceptions (IE willfullness)

For someone quibbling so much about rules, Pro sure is very unspecific in his opening rounds. He asserts that my arguments regarding the unwillingness of many abortions wouldnt fall under a pro-life worldview, but nearly 1 in 5 Americans thinks abortion should be illegal in all circumstances[1], which hardly seems like an unreasonable standard to use for "pro-life". So if we want abortion to be illegal under all circumstances, trying these women for first degree murder when they committed their act unwillingly lowers conviction rates and is a moral travesty. Recall that abortion simply doesnt meet the qualifications to be tried under first degre murder (recall: " The law should hold both liable for murder in the first degree and they should be sentenced the same way any first degree murderer would be." from Pros R1), so if we want to maximize conviction rates (and therefore justice) we cant treat abortion the same as first degree murder if we want to enforce pro-life justice.


Moreover conviction rates would be lowered further given jury nullification; Pro argues that pro-choice jurors would be screened out but given that fully 80%[2] of Americans support abortion in at least some circumstances which is an absurdly high amount to try to screen out, either one of two scenarios occurs:

A. Pro-abortion jurors are not screened out and justice under the pro-life world view declines given the *widespread* jury nullification that WILL occur when the penalties are so onerous (life imprisonment or death by lethal injection) or

B. Pro-abortion jurors are screened out and only an absurdly small slice of extremely pro-choice people, many of whom are old and will soon die[3] can be jurors on these 500,000+ annualcases. This will back up trials enourmously and, again, not allow for maximized justice.


Pro misrepresents this argument. The argument isnt that the failure of these women to view their fetuses as human makes them not morally culpable, it just makes them *less* morally culpable since they have been brought up in many cases to believe that these fetuses arent human and that its "their body their right". This is, again, why we have varying degrees of crimes. They should be held responsible and punished, but we should also understand why many of them did what they did especially in emotionally streneous situations that constitute huge numbers of abortions (hence failing to meet the premeditiation aspect of first degree murder)

The resolution is clearly negated.


2. Ibid
3.;(note that the largest block of support for overturning Woe V wade is among those 65+)
Debate Round No. 4


MasturDbtor forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Beginner 4 years ago
In addition to arguments, I think CON gets conduct for PRO's cheap, pedantic attempt at securing a victory for a single sentence that doesn't really qualify as a violation anyway.
CON should also get source points.
Posted by thett3 4 years ago
Nice try, but I didnt break the rules. Pointing out that the position is absurd due to the grey areas involved doesnt necessitate an explicit rejection of the position itself. I dont have to hold the position to advocate it. All my arguments were from a pro-life perspective. I know you don't have an iota of integrity given your long history of trying to make free wins for yourself, but I didnt break the silly rules.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by royalpaladin 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit