The Instigator
NewCreature
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Kinesis
Con (against)
Winning
11 Points

Abortion is Murder

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Kinesis
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/21/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,900 times Debate No: 18913
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (18)
Votes (3)

 

NewCreature

Pro

Full Resolution: Abortion is Murder

I will take the affirmative (Pro) position.

Round 1: Acceptance and definitions (and agreement on definitions) Only.
Round 2: Opening arguments.
Round 3: Rebuttals.
Round 4: Summary of arguments only, no new arguments!

Definitions:

Abortion - Also called voluntary abortion. The removal of an embryo or a fetus from the uterus in order to end pregnancy.

Murder - The unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.
(of course we have to disregard the fact that abortion is lawful in some places, since that is what the debate is about, whether it is murder (unlawful) or not)

I thank my opponent in advance.
Kinesis

Con

I do not wish this debate to be bogged down in semantics, but I wish to address the definition of 'murder' provided by Pro. It is true that this is the common definition, but I suspect it simply will not do for this debate. I assume we will be debating what exactly should count as 'murder' and whether abortion conforms to this concept. Legal definitions are therefore useless - we will be debating whether or not abortion should be considered murder prior to law.

I would also like to distinguish between a 'human being' and a 'person'. There is a condition called Anencephaly [1] where the infant is born without the major part of their brain. They never achieve any kind of conscious existence. They are quite literally empty shells; given certain biological definitions they would be considered human beings but virtually no-one would seriously consider it murder to abort or euthanise such a creature. Something can be considered a human being while not being a person and it seems reasonable to believe that it is not murder to kill a human being if it is not also a person - and that, although I will not follow this line of thought, that it is murder to kill a person who is not a human being.

I will leave it there for fear of making a full fledged argument in the acceptance round, but I fear these clarifications are necessary before we begin because Pro's opening definitions do not seem to fit the purpose of this debate. Pro can, of course, challenge all these claims in his opening round.

Go ahead Pro.

http://www.ninds.nih.gov...
Debate Round No. 1
NewCreature

Pro

I'd like to thank Kinesis for accepting this debate.


My argument is pretty simple and straight forward:

P1 - At the moment of conception, the unborn has all the biological components of a human being, and is therefore a developing human being.

P2 - Murder is the premeditated killing of a human being.

P3 - Abortion is a premeditated killing of a developing human being.

C - Abortion is Murder


I don't think this debate will be bogged down by issues of semantics at all. No one really needs a dictionary to know what murder or abortion is, the definitions are merely for the sake of formality. Murder is the premeditated killing of a human being. We are not talking about self defense, death penalty, war, or even the controversial euthanasia. I believe my opponent and the readers know exactly what murder is and I believe my opponent and the readers know exactly what abortion is as well.

The heart of this debate, just like most abortion debates, will be the definition of a "human being". Con already showed this in his acceptance post. He wants to distinguish between a "human being" and a "person". He stated that, "Something can be considered a human being while not being a person" Which we will see is problematic. Con adds that, "it seems reasonable to believe that it is not murder to kill a human being if it is not also a person," basically claiming that only the killing of a "person" should be considered murder. The semantics and definitions in Con's statement are not at all universal. It's his job to show us the basis and reasons as to why we should accept this view of human life, and it's my job to show why my presented view should be accepted.

Con is asserting that there are certain requirements that an animal needs to meet, in order to be granted the right to live. This way of thinking is not unlike the thinking of Hitler's Nazis who deemed certain groups of people as not fully meeting the requirements of a human.

"Under the Nazis, Jews were legally classified as a race. Hitler said 'The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human.' Nazi propaganda films portrayed Jews as vermin and sub-human, unworthy of life. " (1)

Now Con's wording and semantics are a little different than that of the Nazis, but it is the same concept. According to Con, if a human being is not a "person", then he is not worthy of life.
It seems that Con can accept that the unborn is a "human being", but he claims that the unborn is not a "person" and therefore do not share the rights and privileges that a real "person" has.

Before I get into this issue of personhood. I would like for Con to first further expound on what he means when he is talking about a "person" and how they are different from a human being that is not a "person".


Sources:
(1) http://www.chgs.umn.edu...
Kinesis

Con

Negative Case.

There is an objection I should like to raise initially to Pro's case before I describe just what I mean by a 'person' and why killing a non-person should not be considered murder.

Firstly, I actually have an objection to Pro's definition of murder apart from the use of 'human being' instead of 'person'. If one defines murder merely in terms of premeditated killing, the definition does encompasses soldiers killing enemy soldiers during wartime, some instances of self-defence and euthanasia. I assume we can circumvent this problem by adding something like 'morally unjustified' to the definition. I argue, then, that we should use the definition 'The morally unjustified killing of a person' as our definition for murder.

I think a reasonable set of criterion for 'person' is listed by philosopher Mary Anne Warren. [1] They are as follows:

  1. Consciousness (of objects and events external and/or internal to the being), and in particular the capacity to feel pain;
  2. Reasoning (the developed capacity to solve new and relatively complex problems);
  3. Self-motivated activity (activity which is relatively independent of either genetic or direct external control);
  4. The capacity to communicate, by whatever means, messages of an indefinite variety of types, that is, not just with an indefinite number of possible contents, but on indefinitely many possible topics;
  5. The presence of self-concepts, and self-awareness, either individual or racial, or both.

It is crucial to not that Warren does not believe something needs all these characteristics to be a person - even the first two alone might be sufficient, or a combination of several others. However this complication need not detain us since a developing embryo has none of them and thus would not be considered a person by any of the criteria.

Why should we accept that personhood so defined is a necessary condition for it being morally wrong to kill? Pro says that this view is 'not at all universal' and that it is thus my burden to show this. I gave the example of an infant born with the condition Anencephaly where the infant is born with the absence of a forebrain. I pointed out that no-one would seriously want to sustain the life of an infant born that way, and that euthanising it would clearly not be morally impermissible. I take this to support my view - the reason we do not consider it murder of euthanise such an infant is precisely because severe brain damage has destroyed all its higher mental functions. It has none of the characteristics listed above, yet biologically it is a human being. The relevant moral difference between it and a healthy infant is that one is a person and the other is not.

Furthermore, consider the opposite case - that of a person who is not a human. Imagine that sometime in the future we discovered a peaceful race of intelligent aliens residing on a nearby planet. They are conscious, rational, motivated, communicative, self-aware persons living in an advanced society. If we take merely being a human being as the criterion for having a right to life, then there would be nothing morally wrong with enslaving or destroying this race of aliens and plundering their technology or planet. However, this would obviously be morally abhorrent and we would be more likely to try to make contact with such a species and learn from and about them instead.

The reasons we take personhood to be the crucial factor in determining whether something has a right to live should be obvious by now. If something is not a person, it does not have the qualities we value as a sentient being. It does not care about its own life, or even have a concept of self; it cannot feel pain, pleasure or emotion; it has no will; it cannot think. It's life is devoid of the things that give life any worth, and thus it makes no sense to say that killing it is morally wrong.

Pro's objections.

"This way of thinking is not unlike the thinking of Hitler's Nazis who deemed certain groups of people as not fully meeting the requirements of a human"

I'm tempted to invoke Godwin's law here, but I think it's fairly obvious that this is little more than an emotional appeal. The Nazi's had no rational basis for declaring Jews inhuman. The fact that they did so was not as a result of reflective ethical contemplation, but racist bigotry and ignorance. This isn't really an argument, it's just an example of the guilt by association fallacy [2] although as Con admits my position isn't even the same, so the analogy doesn't fit in any case.

[1] http://instruct.westvalley.edu...
[2] http://www.nizkor.org...

Debate Round No. 2
NewCreature

Pro

Definitions

As I've stated in round 2, I think everyone knows what "murder" is, and what it isn't. I listed cases where killing of a human being is justified. I accept half of Con's definition of "murder", that it is the "morally unjustified" killing of a human being. But whether the human being needs to be a "person" by Con's criteria or if Con's view of personhood is even valid, is what this debate is all about.



Human Life Starts at Conception.

There is no denying that human life begins at conception. The moment the egg is fertilized, the embryo has everything it needs to develop into a full grown human. Examining the chromosomes in the cells of the embryo proves with out a doubt that the embryo is categorically a human being. Bernard Nathanson, cofounder of NARAL, and once served as medical director for the largest abortion clinic in America stated,

“There is simply no doubt that even the early embryo is a human being. All its genetic coding and all its features are indisputably human. As to being, there is no doubt that it exists, is alive, is self-directed, and is not the the same being as the mother–and is therefore a unified whole.” (1)

I believe Con accepts that embryos are fully human, so I won’t get in to this topic much.



Personhood


Now, Con’s argues that:
1. Murder is the unjustified killing of a “person”
2. The unborn is not a person, though he did not specify when exactly is a human being becomes a person.3. Therefore, the killing of the unborn is not murder.

This is the meat of the debate. Of course my view is that every human being is a person and I will argue that Con's classification of the unborn as non-persons is rationally invalid.

1. Every human being, including developing infants, fetuses and embryos, have the capacity to develop into a being that meets all the criteria of Marry Ann Warren’s definition of a “person”. Unless of course something goes terribly wrong in their development, like a biological defect, an accident or I don’t know, an abortion.

Why would Con then automatically classify the unborn, who is in the process of developing his/her ability to think rationally, express emotions, make decisions, communicate, etc, as a non-person and take away the unborn’s right to live?

2. a. The personhood criteria that Con provided, is used inconsistently. I work with geriatrics and a few of my patients who have severely impaired cognitive skills, would not qualify as persons according to Marry Ann Warren’s criteria. There are also those who are comatose, some premature infants, those who are temporarily under general anesthesia and many more cases in which a human being would not qualify as a person if we were to use Warren’s criteria, yet, unlike the unborn, they are granted the right to life.

b. How does Con know that the unborn is not conscious, self-motivated, and self-aware? I believe the unborn meets criterion 1,3 and 5. The unborn is obviously self-motivated since it is rapidly developing. 1 and 5, consciousness and self-awareness are both subjective and can not be objectively observed or confirmed, unless you have God like, creator knowledge. Sure enough the Bible, the word of God clearly suggests that not only is the unborn conscious and self-aware, but the unborn is a person whom God knows personally.

3. Lastly, even if I am to graciously grant that #2 is wrong and that the unborn and only the unborn do not meet the requirement of personhood, on what authority does Con or Marry Ann Warren, make these criteria and prerequisites on what a person is in the first place? Why should anyone accept this view of personhood? It could go either away. I can just as easily say that any human being with with human DNA is a person and I can also just as easily say that you have to be able to think rationally to be a person, eliminating all who is severely mentally challenged; or maybe I can say, you have to be able to contribute to the society to be a person, eliminating those who are severely physically disabled and are bed ridden.

Why should we accept Con’s view that one has to be a “person” to be granted the right to life at all? Why should we accept that developing embryos and fetuses are not persons? Why should we even accept this view of personhood at all? If it is on the basis of a philosopher’s or a scientists authority, then I say that is rationally invalid.

1. There are philosophers and scientists with differing views.

2. Philosophers and scientists do not possess absolute authority over who is granted the right to life.

As you can see here, one's view of personhood is completely dependent on what authority you submit to. I have my view of personhood and Con has his. I am not about to deem it morally right to kill unborn babies on the basis of a philosopher's authority and reasoning, and Con most probably will not accept the authority of the Bible. I can howerver show that Con's views are inconsistent with one another, and that leads us to the Nazism analogy.




Nazism


In round 2, I compared Con’s way of thinking to that of Hitler’s Nazis. Con stated that this is merely an emotional appeal on my part. Well, actually it is a moral appeal and the analogy applies perfectly. The reason why a lot of people refer to analogies like Nazism and African-American slavery, etc is to show how inconsistent one's moral views are. It is to point out that one abhors a line of thinking in one setting but embraces it in another (especially when it is beneficial to one's self).

Con said that, “The Nazi's had no rational basis for declaring Jews inhuman.” This is exactly the point. The Nazi’s had no rational basis for declaring Jews inhuman, they made up their own criteria for what a human is and imposed this view on the basis of their own authority. Likewise, Con, or any philosopher or scientist, does not have a rational basis for declaring the unborn as non-persons, or even for his whole view of personhood and distinctions of human beings.

Everyone knows that the Nazis’ were simply using their self concocted view of humans to justify the killing of the Jews. Classifying the Jews as non-humans merely provided a moral framework for the Nazis to eliminate the Jews like sewer rats without being charged of human genocide.


Reason Behind Abortions and Application of Nazi Analogy

Con mentioned a rare condition called anencephaly and stated that no one would really think that euthanizing this baby would be morally impermissible. As I’ve already said, we are not talking about euthanasia in this debate. Euthanasia in general is another controversial issue that deserves its own debate. We are debating about abortion, not miscarriages, and murder, not euthanasia or war.

Most abortion advocates love mentioning conditions and situations that they argue, justify the killing of the unborn. They love mentioning rape victims, incest, severe biological defects like anencephaly. As if that's what they are fighting for. This is not at all the issue of abortion. Those 3 conditions combine to account for a whopping 6% or abortions in the U.S. (and this number will only continue to shrink the more accessible and acceptable abortion becomes). The rest, the 93% is for social reasons (2), this is what we are really debating about. The 93% who are killing healthy, developing human beings, simply for convenience.

Abortionists who are propagating views of personhood, classfying human beings and determining on the basis of their own authority, who has the right to live and who does not, are merely providing a moral framework to justify the horrific actions that they are committing. They want to justify their "right to choose" to run away and avoid the consequences and responsiblities of their (excuse the french, and pun definitely intended) f*ck ups, by murdering helpless, voiceless human beings by the millions.












Sources





(1) Bernard N. Nathanson, M.D., The Hand of God (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 1996), 131.

(2) http://www.abortionno.org...

Kinesis

Con

It is simply false that everyone knows what murder is and is not. Like many concepts, murder is 'fuzzy round the edges'. There are instances where we can all agree that X is murder, but there are also instances where there is widespread disagreement about whether a given instance is murder. In fact, I would argue that most people do not agree that abortion is murder. If people seriously believed that what developed countries were doing was morally equivalent to the holocaust, surely there would be widespread civil uprising, rioting and violence to try to prevent it. People might hold as a religious or ethical belief that abortion is equivalent to murder, but they do not act as if this were the case.

I used anencephaly to illustrate a point. Pro misconstrued this example as an irrelevant digression in euthanasia. This is not the point. The point was that an anencephalic infant is a human being. If we can agree that an anencephalic infant does not have a right to life, then as a simple logical consequence, being a human being cannot be a sufficient condition for having a right to life. We require something in addition to being a human being to have right to life. I argue that this additional characteristic is personhood. If Pro is to remain consistent, he must either provide an alternative characteristic which grants something a right to life, or maintain the absurd position that we ought to sustain the life of an infant with anencephaly for as long as possible because that infant has a right to life.


Counterpoints

Human life begins at conception. As a biological fact this is obviously true. As Pro points out, I do not consider this the important point. What matters is whether being human is a sufficient condition for having a right to life, and I think it's obvious that this is not the case.

1: Pro points out that most fetus' have the capacity to develop into persons. This is true: it just isn't important. There are a multiplicity of reasons for rejecting the belief that the capacity or potential to develop into a person is not sufficient to grant something a right to life. The most devastating, in my opinion, is this: if we take this belief to its logical conclusion then we are literally murdering potential persons by not having sex at every possible opportunity. Taken together, every single sperm from every single fertile man combined with every fertile female ovum constitutes a potential person. There is no reason to arbitrarily endow a potential person with a right to life from the moment of conception, for potential persons arise far sooner that that. However, this is clearly not a sensible point to maintain since we don't regard all the potential people that never come into existence as a moral tragedy.

2a: Killing people who are under a general anaesthetic or in a coma would violate their preference to continue living and have the opportunity to wake up prior to entering the coma or being knocked out. Furthermore, they have already acquired the characteristics for personhood even in those characteristics are temporarily not present. Finally, it isn't obvious that they do lose those characteristics while in a coma or knocked out. They might be present but to a lesser extent.

With regards to mentally disabled people: if they are so mentally disabled that they possess one or less of the characteristics of personhood, they are borderline brain dead and I agree that they should not be given a right to life.

2b. The small collection of cells after fertilisation obviously possesses none of the characteristics of personhood. I am inclined to think that personhood is gradually acquired throughout development. However this simply need not detain us: Pro is defending the position that abortion is murder. If there are cases where it is not, such as early in pregnancy, then the resolution is false. Personally I am agnostic towards late-term abortion.

3. I have already addressed this in two ways: firstly, I gave two examples in favour of the view that personhood is what we value. The examples were anencephalic infants, which clearly do not have a right to live yet are human being and possess human DNA. The second was a race of alien persons, who are neither human nor posses human DNA yet we would plausibly extend rights to them. This implies that the relevant distinction to draw between beings that have a right to life and those that do not is that they are persons.

I am not committing a fallacious appeal to authority as Pro seems to imply. Rather, I maintain that reflecting on various ethical cases leads us to the conclusion that personhood is the important characteristic with regards to a right to live.

4: The comparison to Nazi's is an utterly fallacious argument anyway: it's a blatant example of the fallacy of guilt by association. Merely because X bad person believed Y does not entail that Y is false. Hitler probably believed that Britain is a country. Just because he was evil does not make that belief false. However, aside from that Pro's argument depends on the assumption that I have given no reason to regard personhood as important: this is begging the question. I already provided arguments as to why that is the case.

5: Pro points out that some Pro-choicers use the examples of rape and incest. This is a strawman - I did not bring those examples up and so there is no point in Pro refuting them. He also says that the the majority of abortions are performed for convenience. However, this is irrelevant. If the developing embryos do not have a right to life then killing them is not murder, even if it is just for convenience.

6: Pro ends by tarring all pro-choicers (abortionists is misleading because pro-choicers are not in favour of abortions per say - most would like the number of abortions to decrease - but rather the freedom to choose to have an abortion) as people who are trying to justify their own screw ups. Well, speaking from personal experience this is false. Whenever I have sex I use double protection and it is unlikely that I will have children for a long time, or that I will get anyone pregnant for a long time. I hold the position that abortion should be allowed because I think it is the most rational position to take.
Debate Round No. 3
NewCreature

Pro

My argument

1. The unborn is a human being. (Con agrees)

2. Abortion is the premeditated killing of a human being. (Con agrees)

3. Murder is the morally unjustified, premeditated killing of a human being. (Con disagrees and argues that murder is the killing of a “person” and claims that the unborn is not a person)

4. Abortion is murder.


Human Beings Have the Right to Life

This alone proves my argument. All human beings have the intrinsic right to life. Con made a false claim when he stated that, “being a human being cannot be a sufficient condition for having a right to life. We require something in addition to being a human being to have right to life.” Con’s life is automatically protected by the law for the simple fact that he is a human being, not because he meets the criteria of personhood, which are pretty much functional capabilities. Every human being, regardless of size, level of development, location, degree of dependency, or functional capabilities are granted the right to life.

Aliens are irrelevant to the discussion. First of all, we don’t know any aliens, and second, the debate is about HUMAN society.

http://www.lifesitenews.com...

That is an article about an anencephalic baby who at age 1 and a half, is “very much alive, quite healthy, and responds to family members.”

Even anencephalic babies, being human beings, have the right to live. And even those who disagree that they should be sustained as long as possible, it would not be a matter of personhood, It would be to relieve suffering, pain and hardships of that HUMAN BEING. This proves even further that human life is what we value, not Con's arbitrary view of personhood.

Personhood

Con argues that the unborn do not have the right to life since they are not persons. Con gave us a philosopher’s list of criteria for personhood, which are based on what the human being is functionally capable of.

1. The unborn meets 1,3 and 5. I would also add 4 to that, the unborn can communicate in their own way. Studies on prenatal stimulation proves that the unborn meets these criteria. Its odd that Con thinks that, “it isn't obvious that they [people who are comatose or under general anesthesia] do lose those characteristics [personhood] while in a coma or knocked out. They might be present but to a lesser extent.” but he claims to know for sure that the unborn has absolutely no characteristics of personhood.

In a National Geographic video, In the Womb: Multiples, it talks about twins in the womb and it says, "As identical twins grow bigger, they're almost always in contact, touching hands, faces, feet and gradually becoming more aware of themselves and each other." The video also talks says, "The fetus behaves in a much more complex way than previously imagined... During her odyssey in the womb she will smile, recognize her mother's voice and maybe even dream."(1)

2. The unborn is already in the process of fully developing these “person traits”.

Con argues that the capacity or potential to develop into a person is not sufficient to grant the right to life. He said, “we are literally murdering potential persons by not having sex at every possible opportunity.”

a. There is big difference between a potential NON EXISTENT human being and an ALREADY living, developing human being, who is already in the process of further developing all the traits of “personhood”.

b. There’s no such thing as a passive murder. Choosing to not reproduce and create life is not the same as terminating life.

c. Abortion is an ACTIVE process of killing human life and STOPPING the ongoing development of that being’s personhood.

3. There are cases where a full grown human being can not meet Con’s personhood criteria, yet they are granted the right to life. Con said that comatose people and those who are under general anesthesia already met the requirements of personhood prior to the vegetative state. So what? If Con wants to claim that personhood starts when the criteria is met, then personhood ends when the criteria is no longer met. This means that those who are no longer persons according to Con’s criteria, no longer has the right to life.

I also mentioned premature infants. An infant who had to be surgically delivered at 20 weeks of gestation is not a person then? Or does it become a person because its no longer in the womb? They are not persons according to Con's criteria. It should not be considered murder to kill premature babies then.

4. On what authority does Con make these criteria for personhood and make distinctions between persons and non-persons? It's not Con is committing an appeal to authority, The problem is that Con’s criteria is totally subjective. What stops anyone from adding, subtracting or changing the requirements to be a person?

Why should we accept Con’s philosophy that not all human beings deserve the right to live? I for one reject it. The biblical philosophy rejects it. Other secular philosophies reject it. Each have their reasons for it, so which view is right?

Con's personhood argument basically says that only human beings that are more developed have the right to life. On what ground should we accept that a human life that is early in its development is not worthy of the same rights and privileges as one that is more developed?

It is my view that all human beings have an inherent personal nature, and are therefore all persons.

What Abortion Really Is

Con accused me of the strawman fallacy when I pointed out that a lot of pro-abortions like to mention rare cases like rape to help their case. First, I did not say that Con used the argument at all. I used statistical facts to show what abortion is really about. Abortion is about avoiding a self caused inconvenience, through horrific means (killing). Con says that it is irrelevant that 93% of abortion is done for convenience since the debate is whether embryos and fetuses have the right the life or not. He misses the point of the Nazi analogy.

Does it matter that Hitler was just a crazy racist tyrant who just wanted the Jews eliminated? Is the real issue whether the Jews are human are not? The fact that Hitler was a crazy racist, and the fact that abortions are primarily done to avoid the consequence of screw ups, are not only relevant, they are the reasons for the arguments. They are what the arguments are trying to justify.

The point is that the whole “personhood” argument and all other pro-abortion arguments have the same underlying motives as the Nazi’s argument that Jews are not human beings. They are concocted ad hoc, to provide moral frameworks to justify the killing of innocent HUMAN LIVES for selfish reasons.

Pro-Choice

Con said that not all pro-choicers are abortionists, which is true, and that most want abortions to decrease, but that the freedom to choose is the rational view.

Women should have the freedom to choose to kill a human life based on what the human can do functionally? That’s rational? There is nothing wrong with abortion according to Con, but he wants it to decrease, why? Supporting abortion will only make it more acceptable and increase the number of abortions done.

The woman (and man) had a choice and they chose to fulfill their desires by having sex. Their choice had consequences and so should choosing to murder.

Conclusion

Con could not provide a rational basis to justify the killing of, what he accepts, unborn human lives. He erroneously claimed that personhood is what we value not human life and his personhood argument is subjective, unwarranted and very problematic.

God created each of us in His image. The Bible says that God formed our inward parts and knitted us together in our mother’s womb.

Abortion is murder. All arguments for it are nothing but asinine reasoning for justifying killing innocent children to avoid the consequences of people’s selfish and irresponsible actions.

Speak for the weak!

Thank you.


Sources

(1) In the Womb, National Geographic, 2005

Kinesis

Con

Human being have the right to life

Pro claims "Con’s life is automatically protected by the law for the simple fact that he is a human being". This is irrelevant to the debate because we are debating the morality of abortion prior to law. If we took the law as evidence for the morality of an action, I could simply point out that the vast majority of developed countries permit abortion. He says that my thought experiment which asks us to conceive a race of aliens who are persons, and then consider whether we would extend rights to them, is irrelevant because they aren't real. Well of course not: it's a thought experiment! I gave two examples: the first was an anencephalic baby and the second was a race of alien persons.

Pro gives a single example of an anencephalic baby who responds to stimuli. Note what he is doing here - he is not appealing to the fact that the baby is a human being, but rather that the baby shows signs of cognitive development. "A baby born with anencephaly is usually blind, deaf, unconscious, and unable to feel pain. Although some individuals with anencephaly may be born with a rudimentary brain stem, the lack of a functioning cerebrum permanently rules out the possibility of ever gaining consciousness". [1] In addition: "Reflex actions such as breathing and responses to sound or touch may occur" - which may explain the article Pro cites. Since most anencephalic babies cannot feel pain, the reason they can be euthanised is not to relieve their suffering - they are not conscious beings that feel suffering.

Pro's conclusion, that human life is what is valuable, is unsustainable. The fact is that anencephalic babies are human beings, yet there is clearly no point to sustaining their lives longer than necessary. Combine this with the fact that if we encountered a race of alien persons (I'm not saying we have - obviously), we would plausibly extend rights to them, and we have a compelling case for the claim that personhood is what separates things which have a right to life, and things which do not.

Personhood

1. I would like to remind voters that the resolution of this debate was not "Late Term Abortion is Murder" - Pro cannot move the goalposts like that. Pro is defending the position that abortion is murder from the moment of conception. An early developing embryo does not even have a brain. There is no possibility that it meets any of the criteria of personhood listed. Perhaps a late fetus does have some of the characteristics and we could plausibly extend rights to them. I'm willing to concede that possibility. But if an early developing embryo does not have a right to life, the resolution is negated.

2a. Pro distinguishes between a potential human that is alive and developing, and one that is not. I would ask one question - so what? What is the relevant ethical difference that is supposed to be being pointed out here? In neither case are they persons, and I have argued elsewhere that persons do not have a right to life.

b. The point is that we do not regard the lack of coming into existence of potential persons as a tragedy. I can easily concede that passive murder is not murder - but we hardly think that the failure to come into existence of potential persons is the same as passively allowing people to die. If I fail to have sex to bring into existence 10 people, that isn't the same as standing by while 10 people on a boat drown. Neither case might be murder, but they are clearly not the same.

3. I was bringing a separate moral claim to bear. There can be cases where even the killing of a non-person is clearly morally impermissible. For example, if giving an abortion to a women would have the consequence that she committed suicide. It isn't because the embryo has a right to life. There is a separate consideration to consider. In the case of someone who is in a coma, they have already lived as a person for some time and presumably would like that life to continue after they have come out of their coma. That is the consideration I'm appealing to.

It is true that I don't think there is any relevant moral difference between being out of the womb or being in the womb. If the premature infant has none of the characteristics of a person, I do not think it has a right to life. As I understand, the chances of a premature infant born at 20 weeks surviving, or surviving without major brain defects, are virtually 0% in any case - so this is hardly a compelling example.

4. I gave reasons to think that personhood is the relevant moral characteristic which is necessary to grant something rights, yet Pro acts as though I just arbitrarily picked them without reason. People disagree over the issue - that's why I said murder is a 'fuzzy' concept. That fact alone does nothing to show that I am wrong.

What Abortion Really Is

I don't really see an argument here. There are allusions to the Nazis and claims about the personal motivations of Pro-choicers. The former is, as I have pointed out, an example of the guilt by association fallacy - which Pro does not even contest. The latter is an apparent exercise in mind reading on the part of Pro and has no bearing on this debate.

Pro-Choice

I do think we should take measures to reduce the number of abortions. The reasons are not because I think that a developing embryo/fetus has a right to life (though perhaps it is arguable in the case of a late term fetus) but for different considerations. Having an abortion may have a psychological affect on the mother, and there are risks to the physical health of the mother. Also, abortions are costly - much better to keep teenagers aware of, and aware of how to use, contraception and to educate them about sex to reduce the number of early pregnancies. Note that this has not bearing on the resolution - even if these are negative consequences of abortion, we are specifically debating whether abortion is murder.

Conclusion

Has Pro met his burden of proof? Has he shown that abortion is murder? He claimed that merely being a human being is enough to guarantee one the right to life, but I gave two reasons to doubt this. The first was the example of anencephalic babies who are human beings yet do not have a right to life. The second was the example of alien persons to whom we would plausibly extend rights yet are not human beings. These two examples suggest that the relevant characteristic to consider when deciding whether something has rights is personhood. There were multiple other issues brought up in the debate, and the voters will have to decide who came out on top overall. Thanks for the debate!

[1] http://www.ninds.nih.gov...
Debate Round No. 4
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
: Abortion is concidered to be murder. Since the baby is a fetus it is technically murder. According to
: the Bible, murder is the intentional killing of innocent human life. The murder scenarios described
: in Numbers 35 all illustrate an intention to kill. For example, ‘If a man strikes someone with an iron
: object (curette) so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death… If anyone
: with malice aforethought shoves another or throws something at him intentionally so that he dies,
: or if in hostility he hits him with his fist so that he dies… he is a murderer.' (Numbers 35:16, 20,
: 21). To purposely destroy a human being, with malice aforethought, is murder. To purposely
: destroy an unborn child in its mother's womb, with malice aforethought, is intentionally killing, and
: that, according to Scriptures is murder.

But that's good? According to you, "murder" is just a label; it's not something one should avoid doing?
Posted by renucemi000 4 years ago
renucemi000
Abortion is concidered to be murder. Since the baby is a fetus it is technically murder. According to the Bible, murder is the intentional killing of innocent human life. The murder scenarios described in Numbers 35 all illustrate an intention to kill. For example, ‘If a man strikes someone with an iron object (curette) so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death… If anyone with malice aforethought shoves another or throws something at him intentionally so that he dies, or if in hostility he hits him with his fist so that he dies… he is a murderer.' (Numbers 35:16, 20, 21). To purposely destroy a human being, with malice aforethought, is murder. To purposely destroy an unborn child in its mother's womb, with malice aforethought, is intentionally killing, and that, according to Scriptures is murder.
Posted by Mark1068 5 years ago
Mark1068
Wiploc - since the debate pertained directly to abortion, my reference to intentional killing was meant within the context of abortion. My mistake - my definition of murder should have been the intentional killing of a human being without just cause/conditions.

So, you're right - my definition of murder was insufficient. I shouldn't have presupposed everyone understood the context under which I was defining it. The title "Abortion is murder" is, evidently, too complex for some to deduce contextual parameters. My apologies.

The value of IBM stock fluctuates, and it's value isn't determined by consensus. Consensus can influence it's value, but it doesn't solely create/cause it. A minority of stock speculators may find out they are right. My point is, the only thing true of stock value is it can change, often independent of whether a majority consensus agrees or not.

Please realize, my comments were in response specifically to statements made by me and Double_D in prior comments. If you were to analyze my comments in their proper context, you would see your criticism of my comments are irrelevant.

Why would there be voting options such as "Who did you agree with before the debate" or "Who did you agree with after the debate" if determining one side or the other to be correct/true if the sole purpose if this site is to vote on who argued better? If what you said about DDO is simply to determine the better debater, what is your criteria when answering these two questions when you vote? To agree with something is to hold the something you agree with to be true - what else would you be agreeing with?
Posted by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
Mark wrote:
: If someone disagrees with someone's resolution, and the resolution in question is true,
: then all votes in opposition simply don't understand (or don't want to understand/
: acknowledge) that the true resolution is, indeed, true.

We don't get to vote on whether the resolution is true, here at DDO. We have to vote on who argued better. I often wind up voting for someone I disagree with, because he does the better job.

: Or, the debater failed to communicate to truth effectively.

Okay.

: Truth cannot be a subjective construct, nor can it be determined/created by consensus.
: Truth couldn't exist if subjectivity and/or consensus were - IN ANY WAY - part of the
: criteria of determining what is, or isn't, true. Truth can only be discovered using purely
: objective reasoning.

There are "social truths." What, for instance, is the value of one share of IBM stock? You can't determine that without consulting the subjective consensus.

: Hence my using 'period' to end my previous statement "If abortion is the intentional
: killing of a human being, then abortion is murder - period. No condition exists making
: the abortion of a fetus justifiable - PERIOD!

That doesn't follow. Not all intentional killings of human beings are murder, and not all murders are unjustifiable. You can peg the peso to the dollar, but I don't see how you can peg morality to the law. Uh, PERIOD!!
Posted by Mark1068 5 years ago
Mark1068
Double_R - I did understand NewCreature's argument. I don't think every resolution is subjective, either - it may or may not be. If one resolution is true, then that resolution is not subjective in the way NewCreature meant it (objective as opposed to subjective). If someone disagrees with someone's resolution, and the resolution in question is true, then all votes in opposition simply don't understand (or don't want to understand/acknowledge) that the true resolution is, indeed, true. Or, the debater failed to communicate to truth effectively. Both sides of a debate could both be subjective, subjective vs. objective, objective vs. objective, or an admixture of both/either.

Truth cannot be a subjective construct, nor can it be determined/created by consensus. Truth couldn't exist if subjectivity and/or consensus were - IN ANY WAY - part of the criteria of determining what is, or isn't, true. Truth can only be discovered using purely objective reasoning.

Hence my using 'period' to end my previous statement "If abortion is the intentional killing of a human being, then abortion is murder - period. No condition exists making the abortion of a fetus justifiable - PERIOD!
Posted by NewCreature 5 years ago
NewCreature
Double R, I never said subjective is wrong. I said subjective is subjective. The point is, if we base what is moral on subjective criterias, then there was nothing wrong (since subjective is not wrong) with the Nazi's killing Jews, the slavery of the Africans, and killing of infants, killing of anyone, since there is a subjective basis for all of them. We should just let everyone have the freedom to choose with no consequences right?
Posted by Double_R 5 years ago
Double_R
"Mark1068, thanks for summarizing my arguments. You were the only one who understood that Con's basis for his argument was at best subjective and at worst discriminitive."

Just because someone votes for your opponent does not mean that they do not understand your argument. Subjective does not mean wrong. Every resolution on this site is subjective otherwise we wouldn't be able to debate it.
Posted by Mark1068 5 years ago
Mark1068
Kineses - how do you arrive at "scratching one's nose is genocide"....am I understanding correctly that you are implying this arrival is an extension of some logic/proposal I made?
Posted by NewCreature 5 years ago
NewCreature
Wiploc, did u seem me refute any of Con's argument with a Bible verse, beside the one time when I pointed out that his criteria is subjective and non authoritative and that I can just as easily assert a different view point, ie the Bible's?

Debater obviously did not read the full debate, and just read the one verse I quoted on my conclusion.
Posted by NewCreature 5 years ago
NewCreature
There's a fine line between attacking someone personally ad hominen, and attacking someone's view and argument. If Im not allowed to attack my opponent's view or argument, what's the point of debating. I dont think Kinesis took anything I said as personal attacks.

Mark1068, thanks for summarizing my arguments. You were the only one who understood that Con's basis for his argument was at best subjective and at worst discriminitive.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Double_R 5 years ago
Double_R
NewCreatureKinesisTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Good debate. Pro made some very strong arguments but he could not establish why simply being a human automatically gives us a right to life, and in the end resorts to appealing to the law. His strongest arguments were made from a technical standpoint which does not work for a moral debate. Meanwhile Cons two examples show that personhood is what we should morally value in any sentient being. Pro also did move the goal posts in the end. Cons argument was about aborting an embryo which is valid.
Vote Placed by imabench 5 years ago
imabench
NewCreatureKinesisTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Very good debate then Pro started hurling insults at con, one of which was the pro comparing the con's thinking to that of a nazi. Many of cons arguments went uncontested...
Vote Placed by wiploc 5 years ago
wiploc
NewCreatureKinesisTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro did remarkably well, at first. A surprisingly strong argument, which, halfway thru the debate, I expected to win. But Con came back strong, refuting Pro's arguments. Pro responded with hatefulness, insults and character assassination, which cost him a conduct point.