The Instigator
KeytarHero
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points
The Contender
ahopele
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

Abortion is Generally Immoral.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
KeytarHero
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/23/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 906 times Debate No: 21422
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (10)
Votes (4)

 

KeytarHero

Pro

The last time I tried to institute this debate, it was kind of a bust. So here we go again.

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.
ahopele

Con

I accept your challenge.
Debate Round No. 1
KeytarHero

Pro

I would like to thank Apohele for accepting my challenge.

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.
[3] http://www.merriam-webster.com......;
ahopele

Con

Nice opening argument. I disagree however, with your 1st and 4th premise. In defending your first premise, you mention life beginning at fertilization. But what you fail to acknowledge is, that the life that begins at fertilization is not human yet. Sorry, I know you said you didn't want arguing over semantics, but it must be mentioned. You're trying to redefine what a human is to support your position. That's dishonest. Seeing how an embryo is not a human being, it has no human rights. You also made an appeal to authority by mentioning certain philosophers who agree with your position. That is fallacious and irrelevant to the truth of the argument. But to get back to the point, since an embryo is not a human being, your 4th premise is false.

My stance on abortion is that they should be completely fine until the fetus inside starts to develop its brain, then it should be considered too late. I can't comprehend why people think early term abortions are equivalent to killing an infant. Pro-lifers seem to think that babies are created as soon as the sperm hits the egg. If that were true then everytime a guy masturbates he would be killing thousands of his possible children.
Debate Round No. 2
KeytarHero

Pro

I thank Con for his rebuttal and will now address his concerns.

Con disagrees with my 1st and 4th premise, but disagreeing with me does not make me wrong and him correct.

I have provided evidence that life begins at fertilization. To re-cap, creatures reproduce after their own kind: dogs have dogs, cats have cats, and humans have humans. Also, the preborn have human DNA. Biologically, it is indefensible that the preborn are anything other than human and Con did not prove that they are not human. In fact, Con seems to be committing an argument from ignorance fallacy. We allegedly don't know what it is so we can't prove it's human.

I am not trying to re-define what human is. First, since Con has not offered a definition of human then my definition of human stands. Second, biologically it is human life in the womb, at all stages of development from fertilization to post-birth and beyond.

I mentioned those philosophers to show that the more sophisticated pro-choice philosophers agree that the preborn are fully human because they tackle the issue from a more sophisticated angle. However, I did show that embryologists know that the preborn are human. This is not a fallacy by appealing to authorities who are the experts. That would be like saying it's an appeal to authority fallacy by trying to prove survival of the fittest by quoting Charles Darwin. Con has not supplied any embryologists who would disagree on the matter.
Con claims that as an embryo is "not a human being, it has no human rights." But this is clearly false. Wanted embryos and fetuses have human rights. For example, doctors will operate on a preborn child in the womb to correct certain ailments like spina bifida. Also, if a pregnant woman who wanted her unborn child is murdered and the child dies, the murderer is charged with two counts of murder (a recent example of this was the Scott Peterson trial).

As for Con's contention:

Why is it that the preborn child suddenly gains value once the brain develops? Why not when the heart develops, which starts pumping at the fourth week? [1] Why at week seven, when the brain develops? [2] In fact, this contradicts Con's argument that embryos are not human because the brain develops at seven weeks, yet an embryo is not a fetus until after the ninth week. [3] If an embryo is not a human, then it would not be a human when it develops a brain, either.

Additionally, why when a brain develops? Con has not indicated why the embryo should suddenly be considered human when the brain develops.

Con can't comprehend why people think early term abortions are equivalent to killing an infant, but I would imagine that Con is not willing to keep an open mind regarding his arguments. I have already explained why killing an embryo is morally equivalent to killing an infant. If he does not understand it is because he does not wish to, not because he is incapable of understanding.

From fertilization, we are human. Con and I were both once a zygote, we were both once an embryo, we were both once a fetus. It is simply incorrect to state that we were once non-human and them at some arbitrary point we suddenly became a human fetus, or we suddenly became human. In fact, a human comes into existence once the sperm meets the egg, and develops into a zygote, which develops into an embryo, which develops into a fetus, which develops into a newborn/toddler, and so on.

However, it would be incorrect to say that we were both once a sperm or once an ovum. By saying that someone kills "possible children" when he masturbates, now Con is committing the fallacy of redefinition. Sperm are not possible anything, they are sperm. The only time a child is conceived is when a sperm meets an egg, and then a new, living, unique human is created.

Con has not refuted any of my premises, therefore I extend my arguments into the next round. Con has not supplied an alternate definition for human, so my definition stands. Additionally, his own stance on the matter is contradictory. It seems quite evident a vote for Pro is in order.

I look forward to Con's response.

[1] http://www.mayoclinic.com...;
[2] http://www.mayoclinic.com...;
[3] http://www.americanpregnancy.org...;
ahopele

Con

You're right, I should of defined what a human was as part of my rebuttal. Most definitions of a human would define a human being is a man, woman, or child of the homosapien species. Neither zygote, embryo, or fetus fit this definition. Therefore, they can't be considered human. You are correct in stating that I too, was once a zygote, embryo, and fetus. But I wasn't a human yet. It's true that these stages lead to the creation of a human being, but they are not human themselves. You can't call a caterpillar a butterfly until it actually IS a butterfly. So since neither zygote, embryo, or fetus are considered human, your 1st and 4th premises are refuted.

You're correct stating that the citing of embryologists aren't necessarily an appeal to authority, but I didn't necessarily say that. I said your citing of philosophers was an appeal to authority (and it was). You should of left that part out. Now to your claim that fetuses having human rights, you gave me an example of doctors operating on a preborn child in the womb and an example that murdering a pregnant woman is considered a double homicide. First off, the doctor only operates on the unborn child with the woman's consent. So your example doesn't actually show that the preborn child has rights. Now to your next example, the difference is that in an abortion, the woman makes the choice. In a homicide of a pregnant woman, someone makes the choice for her. So if a woman makes the choice to carry the term, then there is a good chance it will become a viable individual. When someone kills the fetus without permission, they take away the woman's right to carry to term. That's the difference.

I must admit now that I didn't know when exactly the brain developed in the stages of the preborn child. So I apologize for my contradiction, it was ignorance on my part. What I should of said is, I am for early term abortion but against late term abortion when there is already a full developed fetus inside of the woman. I only mention this to show my stance on abortion. This isn't something I'm arguing for. So I admit this is irrelevant to the actual debate of all abortions being immoral and ask you to abandon this certain issue in the next round.
Debate Round No. 3
KeytarHero

Pro

Once again I thank Con for taking me up on this debate. As this is the final round, no new arguments should be presented.

I have shown why the preborn from fertilization should be considered to be human beings and Con has not offered any proof that they should not. The evidence supporting the humanity of the preborn is overwhelming while it's arbitrary to place humanity at any point other than fertilization. I will address Con's arguments from last round.

First, Con offers his own opinion as a definition with nothing to back it up. Not only is my definition of human fact not opinion, but I have offered evidence for that position. Con also offers no reason why his definition is superior over mine.
Con claims that while he was once a zygote, embryo, or fetus, he was not yet a human but he offers no evidence to support his claim that humans are non-human until some arbitrary point in their development when they mystically "become human."

A caterpillar is not an accurate representation of human development. A human begins life at fertilization and continues to develop until it is born and continues developing. They are stages of development. However, a caterpillar enters a cocoon, undergoes a transformation called metamorphosis, and becomes a butterfly. There is no metamorphosis in human development. They simply develop into a more developed human.

Con admits that my citing embryologists was not an appeal to authority, so my evidence stands. Humans are human from fertilization. Additionally, quoting pro-choice philosophers was not an appeal to authority. I was not quoting them to indicate it as proof that we are human from fertilization (the embryologists did that), I was quoting them to indicate that even pro-choice philosophers admit the full humanity of the preborn and do not argue the fact. They use other arguments to support abortion.

My example of the doctor operating on the fetus was to show that wanted fetus' are treated as patients. Even though she would have to give consent (and most pro-choicers I have spoken to would say she has a moral obligation to go through with the operation since she has made the choice to keep the child, so she has responsibility to care for it), the fact of the matter is if the preborn child in need of the operation was not a human, there would be no reason to worry about operating on it. Why correct a spinal problem in the womb if she could also just make the choice to have it killed? The fact that you can even correct such a problem in the womb shows that the child is human because the spinal problem in the womb will be the same spinal problem after the child is born.

As for the case of double homicide, killing the woman frustrates her desires to carry the child to term. There is no reason to call it a double homicide unless the second homicide is a living human.

All of my premises stand. I have shown why the best evidence supports humanity at all stages of development and Con has not given sufficient reason to reject this, especially when the experts in the field have spoken on the issue, and not all of them are pro-life (despite recognizing the humanity of the preborn).

As such, I would urge a vote for Pro. Thank you for reading.
ahopele

Con

Once again, a human being is a man, woman, or child of the homosapien species [1][2]. Pro argued that this was not a valid definition but my own opinion. However there are a couple of references I will provide at the bottom that show this definition is valid. So once again, since a zygote, embryo, or fetus do not fit the definiton of a human being, they can not be considered human. Therefore, as I've demonstrated, Pro's 1st and 4th arguments are refuted.

Pro dismissed my analogy of a caterpillar not being considered a butterfly by restating that a human exists as soon as fertilization occurs. But as I've already demonstrated, this is not true. The preborn child is not a human being. So Pro's rebuttal to my analogy is meaningless.

Your quoting of embryologists and pro-choice philosophers in my opinion carries no weight. Whether they define a human being different from the actual defeinition is irrelevant. They don't get to redefine a word based on their own personal opinion. Their definitions of a human being is irrelevant to the actual definiton of what a human being is.�

You claim your example of a doctor operating on a fetus as a patient shows that the preborn child is human otherwise the doctor wouldn't be operating on it. This is flawed reasoning because the operation only occurs if the pregnant woman wants it to occur. The fetus has no say in it (obviously). Also, just because they treat a fetus as a human patient, does not make the fetus human. The doctor treats the fetus with the woman's consent on hopes that it will be beneficial to the fetus' development of becoming human.�

Your example of murdering a pregnant woman being a double homicide is also flawed. First off, not all U.S. states will charge you with a double homicide if you murder a pregnant woman [3] . Secondly, most of the states that do charge you with double homicide will consider on how far the pregnancy was and how developed the fetus was [4]. Supporting my position that not all abortions are immoral but only late term.

In conclusion, abortion can not be considered the murder of a human being because neither zygote, embryo, or fetus are considered to be a human being. So overall, abortion should not be considered immoral. I urge anybody watching this debate to vote for Con. I have refuted most of what my opponent has said with rebuttals and have demonstrated that abortion should not be viewed as immoral.�

I am new to this website and this happened to be my first debate. So I would like to thank KeytarHero for offering this debate and once again, vote Con.�

References

[1] http://www.google.com...

[2] http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ahopele 4 years ago
ahopele
Lol 16kadams thanks but I don't need the sympathy vote. If you think Pro won, vote Pro. I'm won't be upset. Thanks anyway though.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Mariah, not at all.

A pregnancy that threatens the woman's life are rare. Usually it's during ectopic pregnancy, where the zygote implants itself in some other location than the uterus (usually in the fallopian tubes). In this case it's more of a case of triage than abortion. Currently there is no possible medical way to remove the zygote and implant it in the uterus, so any attempt to remove the zygote will result in its death. However, if the zygote is left alive and grows, the fallopian tube will burst, and the mother and child will die. It is better, morally, to lose one life than two.

Triage is a case in which two patients are mortally wounded but only one can be saved. The one with the greatest chance of survival is the one the doctor concentrates his efforts on saving. In the case of ectopic pregnancy, it's unfortunate that the doctor must kill the zygote to save the woman but there is no other way. When the doctor performs surgery (or gives her a chemical pill to kill the zygote and allow it to be passed through her system), the intent is not to kill the zygote. It is an unfortunate by-product of saving the woman's life. But it can't be helped.

In this case, it is triage and the one with the greatest chance of survival, the mother, is saved.

Now, there is never a medical necessity for abortion once the unborn child is viable. If something happens and the pregnancy suddenly becomes dangerous, a c-section can be done to save both mother and child. Not only is this the morally superior option to abortion, but it is also a better option for the mother as a c-section can be done right away whereas preparing for the abortion takes a few days.
Posted by mariahjane 4 years ago
mariahjane
"...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..." Now are you not saying that the mother's life is more important than the child's?
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
If you're just going to tie this, why bother to vote at all?
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Oh, no. I meant I got Ahopele's screenname wrong, in my argument.

I'll go ahead and challenge you. Since we're already going to debate, I'll just post my argument in the first round and set it to three rounds.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
How about you challenge me, and go first? 3 rounds?

You got my name right as far as I can see. I capitalize it at the beginning of sentences.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Oops. I got your screenname wrong. Sorry about that.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Wiploc, if you'd like to debate the topic you can feel free to challenge me. I don't mind multiple debates.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
Never mind. The challenge has already been accepted by someone else, but the ACCEPT button was still on my screen because somebody else accepted while I was still reading Pro's opening post.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
: "You cannot accept this debate challenge because it is no longer in the Challenge Period."

And yet the challenge period runs for six more days.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
16kadams
KeytarHeroahopeleTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Not to be mean but I'm giving him points, even losers deserve points. (effort!) only if people did that to me in my early debates....... Then it wouldn't have been a slaughter house loss :)
Vote Placed by mariahjane 4 years ago
mariahjane
KeytarHeroahopeleTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Read ones below.
Vote Placed by SuburbiaSurvivor 4 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
KeytarHeroahopeleTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Con argued semantics and his own opinion. Conduct goes to Pro since Con pretty much made no argument in round 2. Sources to Con for relevancy. Pro gave logical reasons for being against abortion and refuted Con's arguments supporting abortion.
Vote Placed by THEBOMB 4 years ago
THEBOMB
KeytarHeroahopeleTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro made a great argument for why Abortion is generally immoral. It went largely unrefuted by Con, who never really backed up their own case. They never proved a fetus or Zygote is not human while Pro did prove they were human. No, it is not an appeal to authority to cite embryologists and pro-choice philosophers. They are experts in their respective fields, they are credible sources. Con did not put much effort into this debate....