The Instigator
PervRat
Pro (for)
Winning
38 Points
The Contender
trendem
Con (against)
Losing
20 Points

Abortion is a form of murder

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 9 votes the winner is...
PervRat
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/13/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,224 times Debate No: 7823
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (21)
Votes (9)

 

PervRat

Pro

This is, I believe, the most contentious and embattled political issue of all time. I am actually quite afraid to take it on, especially being so new here, but I hope my unique position (an anti-abortion atheist) might make things more challenging than usual for an opponent otherwise equally entrenched, because they would be accustomed to dealing with religious arguments I will not use.

Because of the contentiousness, and admittedly selfishly to allow myself more leeway to amend whatever screwups I'm about to make on this important issue, I decided to make this 5 rounds.

Best wishes to any opponent ... okay, I lie, I send ill wishes, because if I win this, I will really feel like I accomplished something! Definitely respects to anyone who takes it up, however.

Every aspect of this debate I expect to be complicated, as I expect the very definitions of terms to be a source of contention, and I hope the debate will be able to somehow proceed even if there is an unmutually-recognized difference in the definitions of things.
===
I assert that abortion is a form of murder. This debate is to establish whether or not abortion is a form of murder. I contend that the "CON" side will, to win, need to establish that abortion is not a form of murder.

I feel it necessary, to present my case, to define certain terms (that unfortunately are subjective and vague, even in "official" dictionaries) as follows:

ABORTION - The willful termination of a pregnancy through action or decision made by an unborn child's mother
CONCEPTION - The point at which a sperm (which contains half the father's DNA) and egg (which contains half the mother's DNA) combine to form (normally one) complete DNA strand, a combination from the mother and father (and thus, since the father and mother have DNA strands unique from each other, the new strand of DNA being a half-and-half combination is unique from either the father or mother)
LIFE - An organism consisting of cells that consume nutrients, grow (through cellular devision) and reproduce.
HUMAN BEING - A form of life of the species Homo Sapien. As with all known organic life, every member of the human species has a biological signature known as DNA, with the human race itself having a certain set of DNA parameters and each individual human being having a unique chain (or strand) of DNA molecules which fit the human DNA parameters.
MURDER - The willful taking of a life. A FORM OF MURDER, by extension, is a particular type or "subset" of murder.
TRIAGE: A term used in medicine to describe an unfortunate situation where, essentially, "not everyone can be saved." Essentially, given multiple individuals suffering medical emergencies (and often imminent death), priority is given to those deemed more likely to survive so as to offer the best chance to minimize the overall loss of life.
UNBORN CHILD: A synonym for "fetus" that describes a macro-cellular organism between the stages of conception and birth.

I stand opposed to the intentional termination of pregnancy (commonly referred to as an "abortion") with three and only three exceptions I contend are outliers and contend are not necessary to prove my assertion that abortion is a form of murder:

Exception 1: A "triage" type situation where mother and unborn child are unlikely to both survive, and the mother has a reasonably improved chance of survival at the unfortunate expense of the unborn child's life. I contend that excepting (that's excepting as in making an exception of; this is not a mis-spell of accepting!) this situation is irrelevant to the subject of whether or not abortion is murder, as triage is not considered murder when it applies to post-birth humans (including full adults).
Exception 2: There is certainty that the unborn child is suffering excruciating pain and its nervous/brain system is hopelessly crippled (or has not developed and medically deemed unlikely to develop) to the point that there is no or little medical expectation that the unborn child will ever have anything beyond a vegetative state, or will not be able to live without being in excruciating pain that cannot be reasonably medically relieved. In this case, it would be the decision of the mother and father as the de facto guardians of the unborn fetus once the above situation has been medically determined by qualified doctor(s).
Exception 3: The unborn child is somehow proven in a court of law to be legally mature and sane (able to distinguish right and wrong) and knowingly commits an act determined by the legal system to be sentenceable by death. While I cannot in any stretch of the imagination conceive any way this could happen and it seems silly, I nonetheless must include it, since in this improbability, I would then have to prove that executing a convicted murderer is itself murder, which is not an argument I support (and contend is a matter for a seperate debate)

This exception DOES NOT COVER any non-medical situations (economics, out-of-wedlock marriage, criminal act resulting in conception), NOR DOES IT COVER situations in which the baby is expected to have lifelong abnormalities, such as non-excruciating and non-vegetating birth defects/disabilities.

Given the above definitions and exceptions, I contend these following points, pro-"abortion is murer" contention arguments:

PCA #1: With my definition of LIFE above, life begins at conception which forms an unborn child (or "fetus") (also as defined above)
PCA #2: The unborn child's DNA is that of an individual human being, distinct from its mother despite being naturally 'within' and attached through an umbellical.
PCA #3: Abortion, as defined above, is the mother's (and/or join parents') decision to terminate the life of the unborn child
PCA #4: Excluding my previously listed and described exceptions (triage, "death with dignity," capital punishment), any human being willfully taking the life of another human being (or ordering their death, such as "hiring a hitman" -- or in the case of abortion -- telling a doctor to perform an abortion) is committing a murder

Given the above, I can only determine that abortion is, indeed, a form of murder.
trendem

Con

Welcome, PervRat. I'm relatively new here too, and this is the first time I have debated abortion, so I hope that this debate proves educational to us both.

To win this debate, I will need to show that Abortion is not a form of murder. However, I will not defend all forms of abortion, and like my opponent, will set one restriction: I will defend only abortion within the first trimester (0-12 weeks) of the pregnancy.

--WE'RE ALL MURDERERS?--
Pro's definitions lead to absurd conclusions. According to Pro's definition of murder ("the willful taking of a life"), anything from plucking a flower to scratching your nose will be considered murder! You would be right to reject such a non-intuitive and ridiculous conclusion. Instead, I offer you an alternative definition, one that is more consistent with common sense:

"Murder is the unlawful killing of another human person with malice aforethought." [1]

So only if a fetus is a human person, is abortion murder.

--THEN IS A FETUS A HUMAN PERSON?--
Under my definition, abortion is not a form of a murder, because a fetus is not demonstrably a human person. In the ABSENCE of any argument FOR why a fetus is human, we must profess ignorance about whether a fetus is human or not. In that case, abortion is not a form of murder.

But moreover, I argue that a fetus is not human [2]:
- A fetus brain is not capable of conscious thought or memory.
- A fetus cannot breathe or make sounds.
- A fetus lacks a social identity, an integral part of what we associate with a human being.
- A fetus cannot be recognized as a legal person... would you want to include fetuses in our census reports, or grant them the freedoms of free speech and assembly?
- A fetus is not a separate individual, and is entirely dependent on one person for its sustenance.

CONCLUSION
Since a fetus cannot be shown to be a human person, and as I argue, is in fact not a human person, abortion is not murder.

Sources:
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://mypage.direct.ca...
Debate Round No. 1
PervRat

Pro

I concede Con's re-definition of murder to specify human beings, but I am not so certain of "malice aforethought" ... is that truly identical to the definition of murder as it applies to post-born human beings? If one human being kills another (post-birth) human being (against that person's consent, ridiculous though it may seem to be so specific) with no hateful "malice" in their mind, but merely feeling their destitution or other circumstance makes life too unbearable for that other person, is that not still murder?

I am glad my opponent concedes the basic point that if ("only if") a fetus is a human person, is abortion murder. I feel this is a common point of contention, and as petty as I think for most debates for such a single point to be so focused, on abortion I think it a valid "super-focus" that I hope Con concurs is where the vast majority of people on both sides of the issue have their conflict -- at what point someone becomes a human being, whereas whatever they were before was not a human being.

I argue Con's determination of a fetus not being human are flawed on the following points Con made -
"A fetus brain is not capable of conscious thought or memory."
This would seem to correlate with, say, a person in a vegetative state and thus might seem to fit with the Terry Schiavo case where her husband wished to exercise her previously said to him wishes to have herself disconnected from lifesupport in the event where she unfortunately reached of having no reasonable chance of recovery. However, this fails for a 'fetus' because, barring some unforseen tragedy (natural, or in the case of abortion, not natural), as the fetus would 'recover' (or more accurately generate) conscious thought and memory on its own if allowed to live.
"A fetus cannot breathe or make sounds." So anyone, even a post-born adult, who is unable to breathe and requires an iron lung to survive (but otherwise is not in a vegetative state) is no longer a human being deserving of protections? The same for a mute person? I call this, too, ridiculous.
"A fetus lacks a social identity, an integral part of what we associate with a human being." So does a newborn baby who only knows to cry for mom, or a sufferer of Asperger's Syndrome by some perspectives, or a person who suffers from multiple personalities -- they lack "a social identity" as they have multiple they cannot control.
"A fetus cannot be recognized as a legal person" -- This, too, is wrong. I concur that fetuses are NOT recognized as a legal person, but not that they COULD NOT be. This debate is not whether or not a fetus fits the legal definition of a human being currently (its obviously excepted currently), but -- in essence -- whether or not a fetus /should/ be defined as a human being and given the same protections as other human beings.

CONCLUSION
I have countered each of Con's supports to disprove that a human fetus is a human being, and because this "human being or not a human being" question is the crux of Con's challenge, I assert that I have defeated all of Con's arguments.

Notably, Con did not address my specific arguments. I presume (it was not made clear to me from Con's arguments) that the arguments list for why "a fetus is not human" are the support given for the claim that first trimester/second trimester magic border where I gather Con believes a human fetus dons the identity of a human being and deserving of such protections.

A human fetus is a human being and deserving of all the rights and protections accorded to other human beings, including the right to life and (by extension) the right to not be murdered.
trendem

Con

Thank you for a quick and thorough rebuttal. Although I will spend a small amount of time defending my definition, I think we both agree regarding the essence of the debate: whether or not a fetus is a human being.

-----------------------DEFINITION ("malice aforethought")------------------------------
My opponent questions my definition of murder on the "malice aforethought" part. Pro's doubts are misfounded, because "malice aforethought" is a technical legal term that basically translates in layman language to "intentional" or "grossly reckless". Even mercy killings can be murder. [1]

---------------------IS THE FETUS A HUMAN BEING?-----------------------------
Pro says I ignored his arguments from R1, but I implicitly refuted his argument by refuting his definition. Explicitly, I refuted his PCA #3. Using my new definition that he has accepted, since my opponent has not shown that fetuses are human beings, he has not proved that abortion is murder.

I will elaborate on 2 possibilities here:
(a) Currently indeterminate: If the status of the fetus as a human being is currently indeterminate, then as I argued earlier, abortion will not be murder. This is because to pronounce a moral judgment on the unknown is foolishness.

(b) A fetus is not a human person because it lacks:
i) Conscious thought and memory: My opponent argues that since a fetus WILL IN THE FUTURE develop cognitive processes, it should be considered a human being. This only shows that the fetus WILL IN THE FUTURE be a human person. But it is not a human person now, nor has ever been so in its past.
ii, iii, iv) The mistake Pro makes here is that he considers each of my points separately. They should be considered collectively. I'll use an analogy to explain what I mean:

Con: I argue that everything that can fly and is human should need a flying license.
Pro: Birds can fly and don't need a flying license. And there are many janitors in my neighborhood that don't need a flying license.
Con: You should take my points collectively, not separately.

My opponent argues that fetuses COULD BE recognized as a legal human person, but I argue that to do so would be absurd. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." This means that if fetuses are human beings, they should share the same rights as all humans. Will we grant fetuses Social Security Numbers, include them in censuses, and allow them freedom of free assembly? Fetuses of the world, assemble?

I ask my readers to consider whether something that cannot think, recall, breathe, or make sounds; something that lacks a social and legal identity is a human being.
--------
Sources:
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.un.org...
Debate Round No. 2
PervRat

Pro

== DEFINITION CONTESTION ==

Con's expansion on his meaning of "malice aforethought" dodged my questions of whether someone need malice (murderous hatred in my personal vocabulary definitions) in their motive or heart for an act of killing to be murder. Questions of legal standing are irrelevant for debates, as abortion in the United States is currently not legally considered murder. The question is not whether or not abortion is considered murder, but whether or not it should be; I hope this, at least, is in concurrence with Con.

I hope Con is not attempting here to claim that abortions are "accidents" and not intentionally carried out. Considering an abortion requires special permissions, requests and actions on the part of the mother and doctor (presuming the abortion was not something somehow forced on a mother, something that while possible I hope Con agrees is not the intention of this debate), it is premeditated, planned and willfully carried out.

If Con agrees the contention of this debate on abortion (and the vast majority of abortion arguments) is primarily, if not solely, on the point of whether or not a fetus is a human being deserving of the same protections on its life as a post-born human being. I consider this attempt to contest the other component of murder -- willful intent and action -- is ridiculous to claim is absent or below the legal definition of intent/motive that determines whether a death is the result of pre-meditated intent to achieve the intended result of "death" / "termination" of a life, as I cannot see how the requisite decision by the mother, her request to the abortionist and the abortionist's actions resulting in the termination of the pregnancy could be construed as non-intentional actions.

== IS THE FETUS A HUMAN BEING? REBUTTALS ==

I do not recall and would appreciate Con pointing out that I accepted his definition that a human fetus is not a human being. I believe I quite clearly stated, in fact, that a living human fetus is a living human being in my book, and whatever mis-understandings I have made on the subject, I have not wavered in this belief and assertion. Once again, so it is not unclear, from my perspective:

A LIVING HUMAN FETUS IS A LIVING HUMAN BEING.

Ugly, un-Internet-civil all caps, I certainly hope any confusion Con may have had on whether or not I consider a fetus to be a human being should, I hope, be clear by that line. Please let me know, Con, if you are still confused on whether or not I consider a human fetus to be a human being worthy of the same right-to-life we grant to post-birth human beings.

Possibility a)
Con asserts that if there is contention on whether or not a fetus is a human being, that abortion is not murder by some law of default.

I highly contest this -- if there is uncertainty beyond reasonable doubt as to whether or not X is a living human being, does Con truly assert that it is safe to take action to ensure X is not a living human being by terminating any semblance of life within X? I have serious questions as to the morality of that.

Applied to a seemingly unrelated hypothetical situation involving the same question (If there is an unknown possibility of human life existing in a situation, is it okay to take action that would kill any human life present?) I draw on this hypothetical situation: Say there appears to be someone laying by the side of the road. There is reason to question whether or not the person is alive. Would it then be okay to shoot the person, since you do not know for certain whether or not they are alive?

Shooting a corpse would certainly not be murder. Shooting a body, not knowing whether or not it is alive, Con considers to be the same lack-of-murder-status as shooting a body you know to not be alive.

Does Con continue to assert that, in the absence of certainty as to the status of a living human fetus as a human being, that it is safe to terminate its life and the term murder is not applicable?

(b) i)
Conscious thought and memory -- To determine that only a person with provable conscious thought and memory qualifies as a human being (and anything else can be killed without fitting the bill of murder) is again ridiculous. A person in a long-term coma (but for whom there remains a reasonable chance of eventually coming out of it and recovering) fails both at having conscious thought and memory. An amnesiac fails at having memory.

The two people fail Con's explicit requisites to determine whether or not something is a living human being, and if one considers the premeditated and intentional killing of a person in a coma (even if they are not in a vegetative state and there is no reason to determine they could not, at some point, recover and lead an otherwise normal life) or a person suffering amnesia as being MURDER, then Con's defining characteristics of what a human being is cannot be considered reasonable, applicable nor relevant.

ii, iii, iv) I am confused as to Con's statements here. Con specified "conscious thought and memory" as being requisites for someone to be considered human. I make no profession of being word-perfect, but the conjunction "and" means both the items before and after the "and" conjunction must be true for the evaluation to work. If this was not the intention, and Con meant "and/or" in place of merely "and," I assert that I have still successfully countered his definition, in that I reasoned both components as being untrue.

Con actually cast a good image of the problem. Con says "I argue that for A to equal B, X and Y must be true." Pro: "X is not true because of K, Y is not true because of J; therefore Con's argument fails." Con: "You should take my points collectively, not seperately." Does anyone else sense my confusion on this on how Con's arguments could be considered successful in this fashion? Even when I disprove constituent points, Con asserts his conclusion still stands ... that rather defies logic and reason to me, so I would appreciate further explanation.

As to my declaration of "COULD BE" ... that is rather what this whole debate is about, and I could sum up Con's remaining argument as "It is absurd to consider the possibility that a fetus is a living human being, because a fetus is legally determined to not be a living human being, therefore it should not have the possibility to acquire the determination of being a human being in the future." The other claims and gripes about fetuses getting rights minority-age children do not have are equally absurd to me.

With regret, I fail to grasp Con's arguments here and would ask him to explain them further, in detailed reasoning, that I might better understand his position in the next round.

Thank you for your ongoing participation!
trendem

Con

This is unbelievable, but I have somehow procrastinated until I have only 3 minutes left. The essence of my rebuttal would be:
(a) The discussion about "malice aforethought" is irrelevant to the debate, because I have never actually used it in my argument.

(b) When I said abortion is wrong only if X AND Y, it meant something quite different from what you have understood.

I'll elaborate, in my next post.
Debate Round No. 3
PervRat

Pro

(a) Who introduced "malice aforethought" to the discussion, sir? It was not I.

(b) I certainly need an elaboration to respond.

I'm left with not much meat to respond here, so I guess I'll put out some new arguments or to re-sum-up my arguments.

I believe my opponent agrees that if a fetus were human (and known beyond a doubt to be a human being), then abortion would be murder. He contends that a fetus is not a human being and thus not deserving of protections against murder, however, so it is this definition and question of "when life as a human being begins" as the contention, and he further asserts that if there is a chance but no certainty that a fetus is a human being, that we should assume it is not so we don't waste a right-to-life unnecessarily on the fetus.

Clearly I disagree. If I were in charge of demolishing a building and was ready to push down the plunger to bring it down, but I had the slightest rumor of a whisper that some homeless guy was living inside, I'd make damned sure that the building was empty with no living person in it before blowing it up. If I killed a person I didn't know was there, I would be guilty of manslaughter (accidental infliction of death) under both the law and in my own book.

The usual pro-abortion argument, that I have noticed my opponent has not brought up, is that its a "woman's right to choose." An adult may choose to kill, but that does not give the choice to do so more meaning than the victim's right to live. I wonder if my opponent has refrained from this common argument because he's sufficiently experienced to know its the definition, or defining mark, of when a human being's life begins that is the contention and a "woman's right" is really not the contentious issue, or if he recognizes that a right to live overrules another's right to choose to take it, and its the where-does-a-right-to-live contention that is the question.
trendem

Con

My opponent's arguments, regrettably, were based mostly on red herrings and strawmen.

--------- THE IRRELEVANT DEFINITION ISSUE------------
(a) Pro says in R3 that" I consider this attempt to contest the other component of murder -- willful intent and action -- is ridiculous...". Dear audience, please notice that I have NEVER argued anywhere that the mother engages in abortion unintentionally, or without "malice aforementioned". I have never attempted to use "malice aforementioned" to prove that abortion is not murder. Pro's arguments are, at worst, strawmen; at best, red herrings.

(b) Nevertheless, since Pro deems the definition of "malice aforementioned" such a hot and relevant issue of contention, I will once again clarify it for his benefit. He accuses me of "dodging" the question about whether murder needs to contain malice, but I have already answered his queries. Let me requote myself from R2: ""malice aforethought" is a technical legal term that basically translates in layman language to "intentional" or "grossly reckless". Even mercy killings can be murder." As you can see, the translation of "malice aforethought" does not contain any hint of malice. And I explicitly said that even mercy killings, which might not contain malice, are murder. So, no: murder need not contain malice. "Malice aforethought" is a technical term that does not mean what its individual parts connote.

------------IS THE FETUS A HUMAN BEING?--------------
There are 3 possible sides: the fetus is a human being, the fetus has an indeterminate status, and the fetus is NOT a human being. I will evaluate the arguments for each side:
(a) The fetus is a human being:
Pro has presented only 1 argument, back in R1, as to why fetuses are human beings. However, that argument of his rested on the ridiculous definition of murder being the "intentional termination of a life". To quote his PCA#3: "PCA #3: "Abortion, AS DEFINED ABOVE, is the mother's (and/or join parents') decision to terminate the LIFE of the unborn child". Later, Pro accepted my definition of murder insofar he agreed that only human beings are murdered. Since Pro never proved anywhere that a fetus is a human being, his R1 argument is refuted.

He said:"I do not recall and would appreciate Con pointing out that I accepted his definition that a human fetus is not a human being. "
This is another strawman, because I meant that Pro has accepted my definition of "murder" (at least to the extent of accepting that only human beings are murdered). I never even defined a "human fetus"!

(b) The fetus has indeterminate status:
Pro argues" does Con truly assert that it is SAFE to take action to ensure X is not a living human being by terminating any semblance of life within X?"[emphasis mine]. This is again: a STRAWMAN! I never contested that if we cannot determine the fetal status, then abortion is "safe". I only contest that we cannot term it murder, because we cannot determine whether the fetus is a human being. To go back to Pro's analogy: if I shoot someone lying on the street, and if there is a GOOD "reason to question" whether or not the human being is alive, then you cannot classify me immediately as a murderer. To call my act murder, you will first need to investigate whether the person truly was alive. Even if he was alive, then I would be guilty of merely manslaughter (not murder).

In R4, Pro simply proves my point when he says: "If I killed a person I didn't know was there, I would be guilty of manslaughter (accidental infliction of death) under both the law and in my own book." Yes, manslaughter, but not murder!

Furthermore, Pro's analogy is flawed because it appeals to a situation where common-sense tells us that people lying on the side of the road are, more often than not, still alive. We have no common experience to tell us that fetuses are, more often than not, alive.

(c) A fetus is not a human being:

I argued that a fetus is not a human being because it satisfies none of the following conditions: having conscious thought, memory, an ability to breathe or make sounds, a social identity, an ability to feel pain [1] [2](which I just added now), and a separate identity. All of Con's arguents against mine go in this form: person X (an amnesiac) lacks one of the conditions (say memory), but is still considered human. Yes, but the amnesiac satisfies other conditions: the amnesiac has a social identity, can speak, can breathe, can feel pain and has a separate identity. Similarly, a new-born baby, a person with Asperger's,m a comatose person, etc, which Pro uses as counter-examples, all satisfy at least one of the previous mentioned conditions. A fetus satisfies none, because of which I argue it is not a human being.

Pro says: "I could sum up Con's remaining argument as "It is absurd to consider the possibility that a fetus is a living human being, because a fetus is legally determined to not be a living human being,..."".
Another STRAWMAN! I never argued that fetuses cannot be human beings because they lack legal recognition in the status quo. I argued that fetuses cannot get a legal identity because to grant them a legal identity would lead to absurd conclusions. However, I understand it is possible to grant fetuses limited legal rights, so I retract this point.

---------SUMMARY-------------
My contention that the fetus is not a human being still stands, because a fetus does not satisfy any of my aforementioned conditions. Really, a fetus is no more than a cockroach injected with human cells. Indeed, you could feel some remorse for squashing cockroaches, because they have some rudimentary thinking ability, can feel pain, can respire, and have an individual identity, but fetuses lack even these.

SOURCES:
[1] "Expert Said Fetuses Do Not Feel Pain": http://www.medicalnewstoday.com...
[2] "When Can Fetuses Feel Pain?": http://www.cbsnews.com...
Debate Round No. 4
PervRat

Pro

Debates on abortion I feel, through experience, invariably get down to (if they continue so far) contests of definitions, and I do not think it a failing for my opponent nor myself that here, in the final round of this 5-round marathon, we still do not agree on terms. That is where you, audience, must decide in terms of whether someone changed your mind or not. I find it highly unlikely that anyone's mind is changed, as abortion is one of those "once you go down path X or Y, forever will it dominate your future!" issues. Its probably pointless to debate, but I still think it worth rehashing once in awhile to get your particular message or take on it, and I believe my opponent agrees with me at least on that.

Anyhow, back onto the debate ...
First, I do not agree that 'murder' applies only to people, but I do concede that very few people -- to the point that it would be a ridiculous argument for me to make -- value all life (even non-human) as obsessively as I do. That's sort of an ad-hominem attack on myself, though, and its a point I'll surrender during abortion debates.

My opponent has altered or clarified his definition of "human being" such that (I gather now) if any of the conditions he gave are met, the lump of living flesh qualifies as a human being. This is still grotesquely ridiculous in my book, and I have several hypothetical examples to show why:
===
CON: "I argued that a fetus is not a human being because it satisfies none of the following conditions: having conscious thought, memory, an ability to breathe or make sounds, a social identity, an ability to feel pain [1] [2](which I just added now), and a separate identity."
===
Note that con still uses "and" as a conjunction, so in a literal sense (going by what he typed instead of what he appears to mean), all of those conditions must be met for a life to be considered a human being. However, I realize semantics is a minor argument and doubtlessly I have my own flawed semantics here or there, and add to that, Con did clarify that he meant any one of those items (grammar correction: if so, he should have used 'or' or perhaps 'and/or' instead of 'and').

Here are hypothetical examples that prove con's definition of a human being, even clarified, are ridiculous:

Con may argue against dolphins having conscious thought, memory, a social or separat identity -- things I would disagree with (I believe a dolphin possesses all of these things), I no longer need to prove that a dolphin does to stick a dolphin in the category of being a human being under Con's clarified position. Merely the inarguable (I presume!) facts that dolphins have an ability to breath, make sounds and feel pain, is sufficient to qualify a dolphin as a human being under Con's "any of these conditions" list.

A dolphin would /not/ qualify under my definition as a human being, which is simply: A living being genetically identifiable as belonging to the species homo sapien. A 'living' being to me is fairly simple: its cells are "alive" and undergoing cellular division. Both requirements must be met for something to be identified as a human being. A dolphin, lacking genetic identifiability as a human being, would fail my definition.

Another ridiculous hypothetical situation: If, hypothetically, you assumed that a fetus can feel pain, wouldn't that suffice to make a fetus a human being under your clarified "any of these conditions" versus the literal one I tried to follow as "all of these conditions?" If it is "any of the conditions," then the bar is so low that a fetus would qualify as a human being -- but as stated above, even a non-human would have traits to qualify them as a human being as well.

A third ridiculous hypothetical situation: A person is struck by a car and takes a lot of damage. There's a good chance they will recover, but for a time they are in a coma and dependent on an iron lung to breathe. They have no conscious thought, no memory, no ability to breathe or make sounds, no social identity, no ability to feel pain (they are unconscious, their nervous system is inactive), nor a separate identity. A person in a coma dependent on life support to breathe, but believed to have a reasonably good chance of recovery, does not meet any of Con's conditions to qualify as a human being and anyone could terminate their life and not be guilty of murder nor even manslaughter.

Con can whine about straw man arguments all he wants, but it is up to you, voters, to decide whether my counterarguments are reasonable (whether or not you agree with my side or position, that's a separate part of the voting process).
===
This debate has sadly reached its final round, so I am down to a conclusive summary and I have no more chances within this debate to respond to any rebuttals:

When a sperm and egg come together in the process we call conception, a new life is created. It may not have recognizeable organs such as a heart or lung when it is only a few cells, but it is nonetheless alive ... its cells consume nutrients and divide; that fits the bill as being alive, in my book. And if you were to pluck one of those cells out of the mother's womb and take it to a DNA analyzer, you would find that cell to be that of a human being, having a unique combination of half of its mother's and half of its father's DNA ... while it may be dependent on its mother for life support, it is a separate entity with a genetic identity all of its own. Barring some tragic incident causing miscarriage, there is no reason to assume that it will not grow from its conscious-less state into a conscious being -- this is, to me, akin to someone in a coma who nonetheless has a reasonable chance to wake up someday and come out of it. Not Terry Schiavo at all, as she had no real chance of recovery and she was permanently dependent on life support and medically it was determined that she was brain dead with no conscious thought nor memory. No, a fetus -- as someone otherwise healthy in a coma -- will 'recover' from their 'inactive' status and they are very much alive.

I know a lot will disagree with that, as abortion is a highly contentious issue (I daresay -the- most contentious and divisive issue of all time). I have come to greatly respect and admire DDO debaters for their willingness to take up the opposite side of an argument than they truly believe as a challenge, and they still give it their all. I have also been impressed by voters taking sides on a debate opposite to how they truly feel, when they acknowledged the opposition did put up a better argument. I am not generally a fan of blind faith, but I want each of you voters to know that I place faith in each of you to read and re-read through the arguments and vote for the debater who made the most reasonable arguments, did the most to understand what their opponent was stating and respond to it, and for the one who did not resort to name-calling taunts or slams. I nervously look forward to the results of this debate, and I look forward to future debates.

I do thank Con for hanging in there with this debate with me (I'm a total newbie), this has been a fascinating debate and I look forward to my next one with you. Overall, I am very impressed with DDO, I am glad it has not been overrun too badly by trolls or ad hominem arguers. Adieu and Namaste!
trendem

Con

Thank you for a spirited debate. I will resummarize my case and general philosophy in this last post.

Some of you readers might be going: "Con has conducted a 5-round debate without even defining a human being!" I did so intentionally, because conventional definitions of a human being reveal so little. Consider Pro's definition that he brought up in R5: "A living being genetically identifiable as belonging to the species homo sapien".... er, that doesn't really tell us much. First, the definition is sort of circular ("species homo sapien"), and second, it does not really answer the everyday questions we would ask to identify a human being.

Instead of a definition of a human being, I have merely offered a list of criteria that a human being must satisfy in at least one instance. There are, of course, additional requirements to be a human person that I omitted because I thought them obvious: one must have human DNA in most of your cells; one must physically be comparable to a human, etc. I merely listed all the criteria that would be relevant to this abortion debate.

As such, Pro's argument in the last round argument that I define a dolphin as a human benig is again... a strawman! I never ever claimed to provide a definition for human beings, but merely furnished a list of criteria that any human being must satisfy at least partially. To quote myself: "I argued that a fetus is not a human being because it satisfies none of the following conditions..." [In technical term, I gave a SUFFICIENT cause, not a NECESSARY cause]. So, no, I'm not saying dolphins are human.

Pro has frequently taken the most uncharitable and downright contrary interpretation of my arguments. He doesn't respond to my strawman accusations except to tell you that I'm a "whiner"... but a strawman is a serious fallacy [1] that erodes the very foundations of debate. Newsflash: Debate requires 2 people to argue each other's opinions, not to argue imaginary attributed strawmen!

Pro takes great delight in pointing out my "and/or" error, so let me return the favor! Here's one of Pro's sentences from R3: "I consider this attempt to contest the other component of murder -- willful intent and action -- IS ridiculous to claim is absent or below the legal definition of intent/motive that determines whether a death IS the result of pre-meditated intent to achieve the intended result of "death" / "termination" of a life, as I cannot see how the requisite decision by the mother, her request to the abortionist and the abortionist's actions resulting in the termination of the pregnancy could be construed as non-intentional actions." 'Arr, methinks I've caught the Moby Dick the Run-off Sentences!

Pro claims that "hypothetically", a fetus could feel pain. I fail to understand why the "hypothetical" matters, since I provided non-hypothetical evidence in my last post that fetuses do not feel pain.

Pro provides only 1 relevant rebuttal to my argument. He gives the unlikely example of a man in a coma who allegedly would satisfy all my conditions. However, even comatose patient have the ability to breathe, possess some traces of memory, possess some ability to feel pain, and/or possess an individual identity, although it might just be a residue of the patient's earlier life.
===========

Pro, finally, brings up a positive argument as to why fetuses are human being: because they are alive, have unique human DNA, have separate identities, and will eventually develop into conscious human beings. I concede that fetuses are alive and have human DNAs. However, fetuses lack separate identities. They are merely a clump of cells inside the woman; they exist entirely inside her and depend solely on her for sustenance. Fetuses have as much an individual identity as a kidney or a virus has an individual identity. Let me give 2 common definitions of identity:

"Identity is an umbrella term used throughout the social sciences to describe an individual's comprehension of him or herself as a discrete, separate entity."[2]

"the distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity."[3]

I will leave it to the readers to decide whether a fetus can have either a "comprehension of him or herself" or a "personality" of any sort, let alone a "distinct" one.
====================

REASONS TO VOTE FOR ME:
(a) If fetuses are not human beings: I argued that fetuses are not human beings because they fail to satisfy even one of a list of intuitive criteria. They lack the ability to breathe, lack all memory and thought, lack the ability to feel pain, lack any social or individual identity. My argument for why fetuses aren't human beings was left unattacked because Pro burned strawmen. Admittedly, my R1 argument was unclear, but I made it sufficiently clear in later posts, such that Pro lacks excuses. Given that my argument about fetuses as not being a human being stands, abortion is not murder.

(b) If fetuses have indeterminate status: Even if you reject my argument about fetuses as NOT being human persons, remember that apart from an attempt in R4 that I have rebutted, Pro has failed to show you why fetuses ARE human beings. Thus, the fetus is left with an indeterminate status, in which case I have demonstrated that abortion is not murder, until some later date where you may find out that the fetus is a human being. Furthermore, Pro himself labels the killing in such cases as "manslaughter", not murder.

I thank Pro for a courteous and enjoyable debate. Though we got off to several false starts, perhaps it is to be expected if this is our first debate on abortion. I look forward to debating you in the future too!

SOURCES:
[1] A primer on strawmen: http://www.nizkor.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...(social_science)
[3] http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...
Debate Round No. 5
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by sadolite 7 years ago
sadolite
"It's a comment on a statment made in this debate about abortion" It explains my vote.
Posted by PervRat 7 years ago
PervRat
I agree, but maybe you should start another debate on abortion instead of here. :)
Posted by sadolite 7 years ago
sadolite
"A fetus is not a separate individual, and is entirely dependent on one person for its sustenance."

So using that logic, a person who relies on a welfare check from the Govt to provide their sustenance could also be considered non human and worthy of an abortion of their life if the govt or any other individual who pays their own way deems them an inconvenience. Further more a fetus is separate from the mother. A women is born with an incubation chamber that is called a womb. An unborn child is a complete and separate life form from the mother, it only resides in her womb until such time that it's development allows it to leave. It is no less a human at 1 week as it is at nine months, 100% of it's dna is present and that is what is needed to make a human being 100%. One could go even further using this logic and say that all children who who have been born up until such time that they don't rely on someone else for their sustenance could also be aborted. A 1 to 6 year old child is every bit as helpless as a 1st trimester fetus, all would die if not provided for by someone else.
Posted by Xie-Xijivuli 7 years ago
Xie-Xijivuli
Murder is usually out of hate or evil; abortions aren't usually done with hate in mind.
Posted by trendem 7 years ago
trendem
Edit: "'Arr, methinks I've caught the Moby Dick OF Run-off Sentences!"
Is it ironic that I made a mistake while pointing out a mistake? Yes!

PervRat, I won't respond to your arguments in the comments, because I think people should evaluate the debate based on in-debate arguments.
Posted by PervRat 7 years ago
PervRat
Oi ... Con's final argument is as circular as they get: A human being is a human being with the following characteristics ...

So they have to be a human being before it can be decided whether they are a human being. >_<

Straw man complaints fail when you use circular logic and your points and definitions do not stand up to examination. That's what I did, so far as I can see, I took my opponent's definitions and challenged them. A little frustrating, but ... still, debate wouldn't be debate if it lacked friction! Very heated, but a lot more civil than I anticipated. I'm truly impressed with debaters on DDO, and trendem is no exception.
Posted by Lazy 7 years ago
Lazy
Yeah pervrat is a liberal. You have to see most of his comments and debates. I like his honesty. Most people at this site are honest however. Debating is not a radical expertise.
Posted by PervRat 7 years ago
PervRat
I would post this comment to your profile, but you don't seem to allow comments to your profile, so I'll comment here ...

"Before any of the libs call a baby a 'tumor'
-A tumor has the same genetic code as the host, adn is therefore their body"

Take a look, a good hard long look at the "Pro" side. I'm as liberal as they come, and I'm not taking the "Pro" side of "Abortion is murder" as a challenge in opposition to my actual beliefs, I truly do believe abortion is murder.

Read that and re-read that before you go on with "Libs this, libs that" ... I am an atheist liberal deadset against abortion in all but triage or vegetative-life-support cases. By the same token, you must bear in mind the possibility the conservative side has vehement supporters of "a woman's right to choose."
Posted by JBeukema 7 years ago
JBeukema
derived from
The question of sentience has no bearing on the classification of something as 'alive'

(D) Since a human child is, by definition, alive from conception, any purposeful destruction of that life is murder, as outlined in brief in (A) and cannot be allowed.

One cannot condemn murder and simultaneously condoning the killing of an unborn child (save for the noted exceptions), for that would be logically contradictory

*for those who support such a clause; this is currently a matter of debate

**such as rare forms of conjoined twins or the medical termination of ectopic or other medically dangerous pregnancy that endangers he life of mother and/or child

Before any of the libs call a baby a 'tumor'
-A tumor has the same genetic code as the host, adn is therefore their body
-A child has a different genetic code from with parent, therefore a child is not a part of a woman's body. Since the child is by definition alive, is genetically human, and is not a part of the woman's body, it is- by definition- a separate human life.
Posted by JBeukema 7 years ago
JBeukema
(A)
-noone wants to be murdered

-We define 'murder' as the intentional ending of human life by another individual when not done
--during war
--as an 'assisted suicide'*
--as a last-ditch effort to save another life, in such a scenario where to refuse to terminate one life is to endanger another**
--by the State, as capital punishment for grievous crimes

-We therefore call for the legal protection of all human life, save for the aforementioned exceptions. This has led to a social condemnation of murder (the individual ethical reasoning of the people are not important to this argument)

(B) Human life is defined as
-Being alive
-Being human

(C) A child, from conception is alive- at any point of development

Quote:
1. Homeostasis: Regulation of the internal environment (within the organism)

2. Organization: Being structurally composed of one or more cells, which are the basic units of life.

3. Metabolism: Consumption of energy by converting chemicals and energy into cellular components ...

4. Growth: Maintenance of a higher rate of synthesis than catabolism. A growing organism increases in size in all of its parts, rather than simply accumulating matter. The particular species begins to multiply and expand as the evolution continues to flourish.

5. Adaptation: The ability to change over a period of time in response to the environment....

6. Response to stimuli

7. Reproduction: The ability to produce new organisms. Reproduction can be the division of one cell to form two new cells. Usually the term is applied to the production of a new individual (either asexually, from a single parent organism, or sexually, from at least two differing parent organisms), although strictly speaking it also describes the production of new cells in the process of growth.
derived from
The question of sentience has no bearing on the classification of something as 'alive'
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