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

Abortion is Generally Immoral.

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Post Voting Period
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after 4 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/22/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 930 times Debate No: 21373
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (4)




I would like to debate the contention that abortion is generally immoral.

I believe that abortions are justified in a case when the mother's life is in danger and it is not possible to save both mother and child. All other abortions are not morally justified.

In the interest of keeping debates focused and interesting for our readers, please keep arguments on topic and no arguing over semantics, please.

Con may either present his opening argument in this round or use it for acceptance, allowing me to make the first argument next round. If Con presents his opening argument in this round, I would ask that he not argue in the last round to ensure we both have equal rounds for argumentation.

Thank you in advance to whomever chooses to debate me on this topic.



Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank Con for accepting this debate and I wish him luck, as well.

I will put my argument in the form of a syllogism and then support my premises with evidence.

Premise 1: From fertilization, the preborn are biological members of humanity.
Premise 2: All members of humanity are intrinsically valuable based on the kind of thing they are, humans.
Premise 3: It is prima facie wrong to kill an innocent human being.
Premise 4: Abortion takes the life of an innocent human being.
Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is generally immoral.

Premise 1

Embryologists, who are the experts in the field, consistently agree that life begins at fertilization. For example, from the most-used textbook on embryology, the authors note: "Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a 'moment') is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte." [1]

On top of that, the more sophisticated pro-choice philosophers, like Judith Jarvis Thompson (who came up with the famous analogy of the violinist), and Peter Singer, accept the full humanity of the preborn. Peter Singer has noted, “It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’. Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.” [2]

It's simply common sense. We know the preborn are alive because they grow. Non-living and dead things don't grow. They also exhibit the four signs of life: metabolism, growth, cell division, response to stimuli, and cell reproduction. [3] The preborn have human DNA, and they are the product of human parents. Creatures reproduce after their own kind; dogs have dogs, cats have cats, and humans have humans. At no point in human development is a member of humanity a "non-human."

This is also different from saying that a hair follicle has human DNA, so it is wrong to pluck them out. Zygotes/embryos/fetuses are unique individual humans, developing from within, made up of all the individual parts. A hair follicle must stay plugged in to the parent organism to function. However, the parent organism can still function even if he/she loses parts of their body. The zygote/embryo/fetus is a full human organism made up of individual parts of which it develops from within, not constructed like a car.

The pro-life position is that life begins at fertilization, which is supported by science. The pro-choice position places "human life" at certain arbitrary points which change from human to human. The pro-life position is the only consistent one.

Premise 2

Human value is an intrinsic value, not an instrumental one. Most people agree that humans outside the womb are valuable and should be protected. People decry the loss of innocent human life, especially when those lives lost are children. Human value is not something we get in degrees, it's something we either have or don't have. A pre-born human is just as valuable as a born human, and any reason used to rationalize abortion due to the preborn human being "different" leads to discrimination and would allow us to discriminate against someone outside the womb who fits those same characteristics.

Premise 3

When I say the preborn are innocent human beings, I am not talking "spiritually" innocent, but physically innocent. They have committed no crime, and certainly not anything worthy of being killed for it. The only thing they have done is exist, and in the vast majority of cases it was through a consensual action of two people. If two people engage in a consensual act that results in the creation of a new, needy human life, they bear a responsibility to care for that life.

Premise 4

Every abortion takes the life of a new, unique, living member of humanity, which has an intrinsic value just based on being human. Abortions take the life of an innocent, unique human being and is therefore immoral.

My contention is that because the preborn are biological members of humanity, and killing an innocent member of humanity is wrong. If Con is to win this debate, he must show why the preborn are not members of humanity. For if they are not human, then no justification for abortion is necessary. But if they are human, then not justification for abortion is sufficient.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to Con's response.

[1] Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001. p. 8.
[2] Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 85-86.


Thank you CON for your opening case. I will now present my case:
  1. Nearly all abortions take place in the first trimester, when a fetus cannot exist independent of the mother. As it is attached by the placenta and umbilical cord, its health is dependent on her health, and cannot be regarded as a separate entity as it cannot exist outside her womb.

  2. The concept of personhood is different from the concept of human life. Human life occurs at conception, but fertilized eggs used for in vitro fertilization are also human lives and those not implanted are routinely thrown away. Is this murder, and if not, then how is abortion murder?

  3. Adoption is not an alternative to abortion, because it remains the woman's choice whether or not to give her child up for adoption. Statistics show that very few women who give birth choose to give up their babies - less than 3% of white unmarried women and less than 2% of black unmarried women.

  4. Abortion is a safe medical procedure. The vast majority of women - 88% - who have an abortion do so in their first trimester. Medical abortions have less than 0.5% risk of serious complications and do not affect a woman's health or future ability to become pregnant or give birth.

  5. In the case of rape or incest, forcing a woman made pregnant by this violent act would cause further psychological harm to the victim. Often a woman is too afraid to speak up or is unaware she is pregnant, thus the morning after pill is ineffective in these situations.

  6. Abortion is not used as a form of contraception. Pregnancy can occur even with responsible contraceptive use. Only 8% of women who have abortions do not use any form of birth control, and that is due more to individual carelessness than to the availability of abortion.

  7. The ability of a woman to have control of her body is critical to civil rights. Take away her reproductive choice and you step onto a slippery slope. If the government can force a woman to continue a pregnancy, what about forcing a woman to use contraception or undergo sterilization?

  8. Taxpayer dollars are used to enable poor women to access the same medical services as rich women, and abortion is one of these services. Funding abortion is no different from funding a war in the Mideast. For those who are opposed, the place to express outrage is in the voting booth.

  9. Teenagers who become mothers have grim prospects for the future. They are much more likely to leave of school; receive inadequate prenatal care; rely on public assistance to raise a child; develop health problems; or end up divorced.

  10. Like any other difficult situation, abortion creates stress. Yet the American Psychological Association found that stress was greatest prior to an abortion, and that there was no evidence of post-abortion syndrome.

Debate Round No. 2


I would like to thank Con for his response.

As he has not responded to my argument, I extend my premises and conclusion into the next round.

I will now attempt to briefly respond to each of his points. Notice how he has not supported any of his arguments with sources. This is because most (if not all) of them are faulty. I will show how.

1. It is true that most abortions take place in the first trimester, but this is irrelevant. First, if your argument is that the embryo is not viable, this is arbitrary. Viability changes with technology. Premature babies used to be in mortal danger if born before 26 weeks. Now a baby born at 24 weeks has a fighting chance, as does one born as early as 22 weeks. [1] [2] So viability is arbitrary.

Also, a non-viable embryo may not be an independent entity, it is still a separate entity in that it is different from the mother. It has different DNA from the mother. Also, if it were the same entity then one could correctly state that every pregnant woman has four legs, four arms, two heads, four eyes, and half the time male reproductive organs.

2. If Con wishes to argue that personhood is what gives a human value, he bears the burden of proof since I have already made my case that humans are inherently valuable, regardless of how young. Implantation is not when their life begins, fertilization is. So yes, any embryo destroyed or "thrown out" while in the process of IVF is killing human lives. Abortion is not technically murder, as murder is the unlawful killing of a human. Abortion is lawful, so not technically murder. But embryos destroyed via IVF, like the preborn aborted, is unjustified homicide.

3. Con's argument here is a non-sequitur (i.e. his conclusion is not supported by the premises). He maintains that adoption is not an alternative to abortion because it is a choice she can make, but not a lot of women choose the option. It still remains an alternative to abortion.

4. Again, it is true that most abortions happen in the first trimester. However, first trimester abortion is only marginally safer than carrying a child to term. A woman has less than a 1% chance of dying due to pregnancy-related causes (13 in 100,000). [3] (Con didn't list any sources to back up his claims). Also, there have been good studies that show there may be a link between a woman having an abortion and being more susceptible to breast cancer (my notes are currently packed away -- I'll source this in my next round). However, even if abortion was a completely safe procedure, that doesn't make it acceptable. People are allowed to do things that hurt them and possibly kill them (like smoking and sky diving). Abortion is not wrong because it hurts women, abortion is wrong because it takes an innocent human life. Con has not yet refuted this.

5. Rape is a devastating act of violence against women, a horrible crime, to be sure. I am actually in favor of harsher punishment to rapists, and I believe women should be encouraged to speak out so that more rapists will be punished. However, why should the child be forced to pay with his life for the crimes of his father?

Also, compounding one act of violence (rape) with another (abortion) does not solve anything. This is from a textbook on abortion: "Victims of sexual abuse and rape deserve special care. However, the abortion counselor should recognize that the emotional trauma experienced by the rape or incest victim cannot be treated adequately, if at all, in the abortion clinic setting. All rape and incest victims, as well as victims of physical abuse, should be referred for appropriate psychological counseling and support." [4]

6. Actually, abortion is used as a form of contraception. From Guttmacher Institute's own website, most women who have abortions do so for some kind of social reason (e.g. she can't afford a child, doesn't feel she's ready, etc.). [5] However, this is still irrelevant to the case of abortion because abortion is not wrong because of the motives behind a woman's decision, it's wrong because it takes an innocent human life as Con has still not refuted.

7. Con is making a slippery slope fallacy here. If abortion is made illegal, it will be made illegal because it kills an innocent child, not because it is trying to control women. Women (or men) will not be forced to use contraceptives or be sterilized. Even now, we don't have complete control over our bodies. We can't urinate in public. And women don't have complete control over their bodies during pregnancy. If they have morning sickness, they cannot have thalidomide prescribed to them, which is a drug that eases morning sickness but results in deformations of the child (they usually wind up missing a limb). The "right" to abortion is not critical to civil rights any more than the "right" to murder is critical to civil rights. In fact, the "right" for a woman to have an abortion takes away a preborn child's most fundamental right, the right to life.

8. This is a largely irrelevant argument and another non sequitur. Peaceful protests are done against wars, as well as against abortions. This is because of the First Amendment, the right to free speech and the right to assemble. Also, taxpayer dollars can not be used for abortions.

9. Con has not sourced this so I have no way of knowing if this is true. But it seems to be that the tides are turning and more young people are becoming pro-life. It's pro-abortion rhetoric that claims a woman's life is over once she becomes pregnant. But again, abortion is wrong because it takes an innocent human's life. If a woman needs to rely on government assistance to raise her child, then let her. It can be very tough to raise a child. But the solution is not killing the child, the solution is our government helping its citizens that are in need of financial assistance to raise their children.

10. If stress is greater due to an abortion, maybe the abortion is at fault at not the pregnancy. Con's argument here seems to be arguing against abortion and not for it. Abortion causes stress so she should go through with a stressful operation?

However, it's still a very weak argument because again, there are all kinds of stressful situations which are not immoral. Abortion is immoral because it takes an innocent human life.

I have argued that abortion is generally immoral because it takes an innocent human life, and Con has not refuted this. Perhaps he was waiting until after making his opening argument to address mine but at any rate, I extend all of my arguments into the next round. I have also shown that Con's ten points are either irrelevant, using bad statistics, and just flat-out don't refute my contention.

I look forward to Con's reply.

[4] Hern, Dr. Warren, Abortion Practice, p. 84.


Your criticism is quite harsh so i’ll be harsh on you then?!

I thought your arguement was good but I have noticed how you have repeated on numerous occasions that "it takes away an innocent child's life" you seem to misunderstand there is a big gap in what you've stated from reality.

this is because

(a). a child exists from the age of 3-18

(b). no one is being 'killed' because there is 'no one' there isn't a human. There is no value to a non-existant life form. That isnt a 'life' form. PRO, i have already made this very clear to you yet you have chosen to ignore this which becomes frustrating as i now have to repeat: “Nearly all abortions take place in the first trimester, when a fetus cannot exist independent of the mother. As it is attached by the placenta and umbilical cord, its health is dependent on her health, and cannot be regarded as a separate entity as it cannot exist outside her womb. The concept of personhood is different from the concept of human life. Human life occurs at conception, but fertilized eggs used for in vitro fertilization are also human lives and those not implanted are routinely thrown away. Is this murder, and if not, then how is abortion murder?”

^this is all relevant as it counters the whole of your first case as you pointed out i hadnt countered for you… happy now? -__-

Also you have not actually explained why raped women shouldn’t be allowed to have abortions. Because you state that it is so bad and your in favour of harsher punishments for rapists. If you so hate the crime of rape so much, it does not make any sense for you to say that raped women should have to be pregnant as a result and cannot get an abortion. This is a big issue that you should consider the horrible effects this would cause. You would be most hated in society for going ahead with that.

Pro has also infact addressed me with an absolute lie by claiming that “most of [my points] (if not all) are faulty” His big claim is degrading and disrespectfull. I don’t believe that kind of horrible manner is necessary in a debate.

I apoligize for not addressing your points in the first round, infact premises 3 and 4 are the same point split into two paragraphs. So not only are you de-valuing all of my 10 different points but you look very foolish for that as you only appear to have 3 points… so i insist you take caution of what critisism you are giving because it is absolutely irrelevant to a debate, and by doing that, you actually wasted a whole round where you could have been presenting more points for the ban of abortions. And because of that, it suggests your actually the “weak” one here as you cannot provide more information than the same point you use except you put it in different contexts each time to make it seem as if you have more than just “it takes away an innocent life”. You clearly lack other points for yourself, and instead of criticising each point of mine, you should be trying to think of something else to say which isnt just another repeat.

Premise 3 from your first arguement was poor, completely muddled and dis-organised. It’s not backed up correctly, the sources you gave, had no contribution whatsoever . The definition of life? what?

Pro seems incapable of sticking to the purpose of a debate. We’re not here to criticise people, in the debate your supposed to state and explain your counter points and never to lose the value of another simply because you feel weak not having anything more to say other than ‘it takes away an innocent child’

Pro has chosen to take my points and argue against them by falsely claiming their wrong (which means nothing as he cannot prove that) Different sources can always say different things just because you find one article, and i find another does not mean one wins success pro, it means you have to meet at the point of cancelling it out of the debate as their is no real way of telling which source is true and which one is false. I find it hard to believe that i can be all wrong and you’re all right. That’s unimaginable for anyone to think that in a debate. Just by stating my points are incorrect is an intentionly false statement. In other words, is almost a lie to anyone you have a debate with.

happy arguing, pro


Debate Round No. 3


It's possible I owe Con an apology, though I don't think I do. I was simply pointing out that his arguments were irrelevant and some were weak. This was not an attack against him but his arguments.

He seems to fundamentally misunderstand what a debate is. Con believes that a debate is won with quantity over quality, when if fact it is quality over quantity. Con has presented ten points and I effectively defeated all ten. Rather than rebut my argument and my response to his, he spent his last round in completely irrelevant discussion.

I hope Con takes these words to heart and learns that in order to win a debate, you need good arguments. Not the most arguments. My argument given in the first round was both valid and sound and since I bear the burden of proof, that was my job. On top of making an opening argument, Con needed to refute my argument and show why it can not be used to support my conclusion.

He failed to do this. As such, I extend my arguments and urge you to vote Pro. I will, however, respond to some of the things he said in his previous round since they do pertain to the debate.

In actuality, I was repeating that abortion is wrong because it takes away an innocent human's life, not child. However, I do occasionally use "child" to refer to a preborn human and there is precedent for doing so. A pregnant woman is said to be "with child," and doctors will even refer to wanted embryos or fetus' as a baby or child.

Additionally, even the dictionary recognizes that fetus' are children. [1] In fact, the word "fetus" comes from the Latin word meaning "offspring." [2]

I have given ample scientific and philosophical evidence that a living human exists in the womb, and Con has given no evidence to support his claim that there isn't a human, and that human should not be valued. He has offered no proof, therefore my argument stands.

I have already responded to Con's objection about the first trimester, but to reiterate while the embryo may not be independent, she is still a separate entity -- not separate as in separated from, but separate as in another, or different from. He has not refuted my rebuttal so my response to this objection stands from last round.

Additionally, I did explain why raped women should not be able to have abortions. We should punish the rapist with harsh penalties, not the child. If a rapist is on trial, a police officer would not give the raped woman a gun and allow her to shoot him herself. As such, the preborn child should not be killed for the rapist's crime.

Also consider this scenario: A woman is raped, but ends up keeping the child (I've heard that six out of ten women who are raped and become pregnant end up keeping the child, but I don't have any sources for this). The child grows into a normal two-year-old but suddenly starts to take on the features of the rapist. This reminds her so much of the rape that she now can't stand to even look at her child, and she now finds that she hates the child. Should she be able to kill the child? I would hope your answer is no. But then you must understand that there's no fundamental difference between a child in the womb and outside; they are both living, human children. You would have to show why it would be acceptable to kill that same child while inside the womb.

I have also shown why getting an abortion would not help the woman at all, from a textbook on abortion.

I have not lied about Con's position and he did nothing last round to further bolster his arguments.

I should point out that I do not look foolish at all. I have four premises which support my conclusion. My argument is both valid and sound. You use ten bad arguments to support your point. Ten bad arguments does not make a good one.

Let's say there is a burning house and you decide to help out. You grab a bucket and run to a spigot, but to your horror you realize the water is going through the bottom because there's a giant hole in it. You see nine more buckets, each with holes in the bottom. Do you combine all ten buckets and then you're suddenly able to help put out the fire? No. The water would still go through all ten buckets.

I'm not sure what Con means when he is trying to critique my third premise. He has not shown how the embryo/fetus could have committed a crime worthy of being put to death. He has also not shown why the preborn are not alive and are not human, especially when embryologists (who are the experts) know there is a living human, and even sophisticated pro-choice philosophers fully admit the humanity of the preborn.

I believe I have fully shown why my arguments stand and Con's don't. Please vote Pro.



once again, pro has decided to argue with my points and still HAS NOT followed the criteria of a debate which is to produce more than one point. Pro has used the same point it being “murder” in all 3 arguements. He did not provide anything else to support his case for the resolution and instead, just rebutted my points inacurately and in a completly false way. My opponent also chose to abandon my request. He can only use that point once and move onto the next in the following round, (he is not allowed to use that point again) but Pro has ignored this and has used it again twice more because he has nothing else to support the resolution. Pro has not thought about what he was going to be debating and as he is PRO (for), he is supposed to be giving points for and I (con), am supposed to rebut these. My opponent is unaware of this and has poorly attempted to tackle my arguement, yet he makes claims that my points are useless. I’ve actually given more than Pro in point wise. Pro has just argued with these and failed to present another case. He therefore has produced only one point of contention that actually does not prove that my points are apparently “irrelevant”, he has possibly used the wrong word here because it is clear that all my points were completly on the topic of this debate.

He did not use his 2 chances to continue with the debate, and therefore I couldn’t use mine. Unfortunately though, for Pro, he wont have the chance to introduce another or more points because he wanted to spend that time critiscising my arguement rather than giving his own.

In Conclusion, I am disappointed in Pro because this could have been a good debate, however, he clearly did not think through at least 3 good points before he made this debate.

My opponent has only offered one true point for his case and therefore has not won this debate for that reason. I encourage the audience to not vote for this debate as it was not constructed properly thanks to Pro.

Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by KeytarHero 6 years ago
Feel better about what? I don't mind losing if I lose fair and square. I might have even actually lost the debate with you, I don't know. I don't think I should have lost it. But the problem is that the people who voted against me did so for disingenuous reasons.

My opponent here was not a good opponent. His philosophy of debate is whoever has more arguments wins the debate so he didn't even try and refute my arguments.
Posted by WriterDave 6 years ago
There now, don't you feel better?
Posted by KeytarHero 6 years ago
They may be relevant to the abortion discussion in general, but not to my arguments.
Posted by jawyer 6 years ago
my points were not "weak". the points i made were completely relevant to abortion.
Posted by KeytarHero 6 years ago
I apologize if you took offense. My criticism was not harsh. I called some of your arguments irrelevant and weak, but that's not an attack on you. I was simply showing why your arguments don't hold up, which is what a criticism is supposed to do.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Xerge 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Con dropped key arguments that Pro made. Later in the debate, he behaved in a in manner that loses him conduct . Con also loses spelling and grammer from errors made.
Vote Placed by wiploc 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: The first round was good enough. I think Pro had the edge at that point, even though I agree with Con. But, after round one, Con quit arguing about the resolution, and switched to shouting, sulking, and making promiscuous allegations of misbehavior. Pro behaved quite well in the face of this provocation. Conduct to Pro. Persuasion to Pro too. He kept pointing out that he didn't regard his main point as refuted, and Con kept ignoring these opportunities to clearly refute that poi
Vote Placed by 1dustpelt 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Very rarely do I give all points to one person. Con fails to prove any of his arguments and did not re. Also, Con did not rebut Pro's arguments very well. For example, a child is 3-18? That's not the point. Conduct to Pro because Con is accusing Pro of things. Con used bad grammar by not capitalizing the first word in round four. Also, Pro had more sources.
Vote Placed by KRFournier 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Not often I give all points. Conduct to Pro for Con overreacting and trying to accuse Pro of misconduct when none was present. Spelling and Grammar to Pro because Con's formatting and run-on sentences made reading more difficult. Argument to Pro because his argument was not refuted and Con's arguments had reasonable counter-points that were not themselves refuted by Con. Sources to Pro because Con asserted 10 points (some with statistics) without citations.