The Instigator
Ricky_Zahnd
Con (against)
Losing
2 Points
The Contender
KeytarHero
Pro (for)
Winning
12 Points

Abortion is morally indefensible.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
KeytarHero
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/9/2012 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,718 times Debate No: 20988
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (3)

 

Ricky_Zahnd

Con

This debate concerns the popular conception that abortion is amoral. I will argue against this idea. Burden of proof is shared in this debate. Points of contension will include determining morality, when a fetus must morally be considered human, and the rights of the mother.

Pro may take a lead in the first round.
In each successive round, all opposing points must be refuted or conceded. New arguments may be introduced each round until the final round, which may only be used for refutation and concluding statements.

No fallacious arguments are allowed. If one makes an argument by fallacy, and the fallacy is identified by the opponent, one must either restate the original argument in such a way as to avoid fallacy, demonstrate effectively why the argument is NOT fallacious, or concede the point. All arguments by fallacy, which are identified and not resolved, must be considered abandoned by voters.
KeytarHero

Pro

I accept the challenge to debate abortion, an important topic in our time.

I will keep my opening argument brief since Con instigated the debate. I will wait until I see my opponent's opening argument to more specifically discuss the issues that he would like to discuss.

My position that abortion is amoral is based upon the simple premise: from when the egg is fertilized a new, unique, living human being is born. This human is innocent (not necessarily in a spiritual sense but in a physical sense). They have not committed a crime deserving of the punishment of death and so it is immoral to kill them, especially since in the vast, vast majority of cases it was the parents who consented to the action that created the preborn human.

In order for my opponent to win this debate, he must prove that the preborn human is not a living human. For if the preborn is not a living human, then no justification for abortion is necessary. However if the preborn is a living human, then no justification for abortion is sufficient.

Scientifically, it has been proven that the preborn are living human beings. They are alive because they grow. Non-living things don't grow. Additionally, preborn humans exhibit other signs of life such as (but not limited to) respiration, cell division, and reponse to stimuli.

We know that preborn humans are, in fact, human. They have human DNA, and living beings reproduce after their own kind. Dogs have dogs, cats have cats, and humans have humans. At no point in human history have two humans conceived a child which was non-human (or another species) and became human at any point during its gestation.

In fact, the experts in the field, embryologists, agree that we are human from fertilization. In the most widely-used embryology textbook, the authors say the following: "Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a 'moment') is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte." [1]

You just can't make the argument that we are anything other than a living human from fertilization. In fact, most pro-choice philosophers even make the concession, such as Peter Singer, who takes the pro-choice position to its logical conclusion and supports infanticide. Singer has stated, “It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’. Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being.” [2]

If Con wishes to state that we are living humans at any other point than fertilization, he will be arguing against science and some of the most respected pro-choice philosophers. It is a well-established fact. People decry when an innocent is killed for any reason (be it through capital punishment or during wartime), so to be consistent we should also decry the innocent killed through abortion.
I will end here. I await Con's opening argument.

[1] Ronan O'Rahilly and Fabiola Müller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 2001. p. 8.
[2] Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 85-86.
Debate Round No. 1
Ricky_Zahnd

Con

I would like to thank Pro for accepting my invitation. This looks to be a very interesting debate.

Before I really begin, I'd like to establish a very important disagreement:
"In order for my opponent to win this debate, he must prove that the preborn human is not a living human. For if the preborn is not a living human, then no justification for abortion is necessary. However if the preborn is a living human, then no justification for abortion is sufficient."

I want to be very clear that I in no way agree to these terms. By the agreement of this debate, the onus is on me to demonstrate that there do exist moral justifications for abortion, and my opponent must demonstrate that there do not. These are the terms established in the rules of this debate. I am in no way required to demonstrate that there is "no justification necessary" for abortion, as justification is necessary for all actions, especially ones which are morally complex.

Refutation:
Pro's main contention seems to be that fetuses are recognisably human from conception, and that therefore it is automatically amoral to terminate a pregnancy at any stage. The "humanity" of a zygote or blastocyst is far more debatable than Pro would have you believe, though its humanity or lack thereof is not necessary to provide moral justification for its termination. For instance:

"...preborn humans exhibit other signs of life such as (but not limited to) respiration, cell division, and response to stimuli."

This is a very misleading statement without a bit more refinement. The heart of a "preborn human" does not exist on a functional level until more than a month after conception, and there is no brain activity until almost 2 months.[1] To be clear, until this point the only "signs of life" a fetus exhibits are the same signs of life present in a lump of feces. Cellular respiration, division, and response to stimuli occur on levels which do not warrant moral notice to humans under any other conditions. Further, the "preborn human" does not even become implanted into the uterine wall until about the sixth day, and in most cases will not implant into the uterine wall at all.[2] At these early stages, accidental termination is a very real possibility - albeit without moral repercussions.


Before I continue with refutation I'd like to establish a first point which will be arising within the refutation:

C1: Humans establish their moral right to live on a scale of viability.

There exist many scenarios in which a person may slacken their grip on life to the point which they cannot survive on their own. If a person is in a vegetative state, and continues living only with the aid of external apparatus. If a person has been shot on a battlefield, and only immediate medical attention can save them. If a person is in any kind of imminent danger, which they cannot escape on their own. In these situations, there is no moral onus on the other party to ensure the endangered party's survival - especially if there is some risk to their own will or well being. There may certainly be a moral reward for such self sacrifice, but that reward is only on the merit of it not being required.

One may extrapolate from these scenarios a rule, by which a human's moral requirement to protect the life of another human may be calculated by contrasting the viability of the endangered human's bid on life with the aiding human's danger to self. If the aiding human stands to lose their life, or risk their ability to continue their life as they have determined in so far, and the endangered human stands little chance of surviving, then there may be no moral penalty should the aiding human decide to abandon their stake in the endangered human's predicament.

If Pro's condition is that it is morally indefensible to allow a human or potential human to die, then we are all guilty every time someone we know dies, by nature of the fact that we failed to save them. I do not claim that zygotes are not potential humans, but I do claim that those who have already struggled into the world have more of a claim on life than a pile of cells with a squidge of DNA - which may blink out of existence via any number of causes (exponentially more so than a living human).

C2: Foetal uncertainty/ action or inaction

From the time of conception, pregnancies are fraught with uncertainty. Many factors may result in the loss of a pregnancy, or the development of an atypical pregnancy. At times a blastocyst may implant itself away from its ideal home - sometimes as afield as a mucus membrane in vaginal wall or anus, but far more commonly in the fallopian tubes.[3] Ectopic pregnancies such as these endanger both the mother and the "pre-human." Additionally, the "pre-human" stands great risk for malformations and defects under these conditions. When the "pre-human" faces such risks and also risks the life and well being of the mother, shouldn't we value the life of the human over that of the pre-human - especially if the pre-human has no conscious thought and can't experience pain or any kind of awareness?

Many other scenarios come to mind when faced with the supposed certainty of a zygote's future. Twins, for instance. Beginning in 1903 Hans Spemann established (with the help of his infant daughter's hair) that any embryo may be formed into twins.[4] Two complete humans, each with a normal body and mind, have the potential to be born from each zygote, simply by applying slight pressure. If each embryo has the potential to become two humans, have we committed murder each time we birth only one child? The potential is there - so what is the difference? I anticipate that my opponent will argue that human intervention is the difference - that there is no requirement to ensure the creation of two children from each zygote, as each zygote would not "naturally" develop into two children if unaided. What is "natural," though? Is modern prenatal care natural? Surgically aided birthing? We have at this time reduced infant mortality to 0.65% - the lowest rate in history.[5] Is that "natural?" Clearly, natural is not the issue - as long as unnatural spurs us onward in unbridled proliferation.

What responsibility do we then have to intervene in a pre-human's development? Before we knew better - mothers smoked and drank alcohol during pregnancy, as well as engaging in other kinds of behavior that endangered their "pre-human." Were they committing manslaughter?

To sum up C2 - the conditions under which mothers might be required to act or required not to act are deeply fraught and obscure. The viability of any given zygote is quite low. My opponent coined the term "pre-human" to personify the lump of cells that develops after fertilization, but only about 26% of those zygotes successfully implant, and an additional 31% of successfully implanted zygotes are miscarried.[6] That means that about 82% of "pre-humans" will never be humans. I argue then that you cannot murder something that stands less than a 1 in 5 chance of ever having a heartbeat.

C3: Who's morality?

Perhaps the biggest issue (to me) in this debate will be to determine what morality governs thes
e scenarios. If morality is subjective (and my opponent has claimed in the past that it is), then who's to say what conditions apply - and why should someone Else's morality apply to a woman who wants to abort an unwanted pregnancy? In order to win, it seems as though my opponent must demonstrate that one conception of morality is superior to all others, and that it entirely and unflinchingly rules out abortion as a possibility. If he cannot, then he must accept that the subjectivity of morality provides its own justifications for abortion, and the resolution is moot.

My citations are in a comment, due to lack of space.

KeytarHero

Pro

Con has not shown that a preborn human is anything but a human. Additionally, Con has not shown any reasons to morally justify killing an innocent human being.

My main contention is that it is immoral to kill an innocent human being, innocent meaning having not committed any crime, certainly one not deserving of death. If the preborn members of our species are human (which they are, as I showed in the previous round), then there is no moral justification for killing a preborn human. If you are going to morally justify killing a preborn human, then those reasons must not also be applicable to a born human. Otherwise you would have to reject abortion as immoral, or accept infanticide or some forms of murder as morally justified.

Con has actually used misleading information as to embryonic development. The heart develops during the fifth week of pregnancy, but conception occurs during the third week of pregnancy (the first two weeks are in preparation), so the heart develops after only the third week of conception. [1] Additionally, Con is incorrect about the signs of life. First of all, he misuses fetus (the embryo becomes a fetus after the second or third month of gestation). Secondly, the embryo is growing. This is a sign of life not present in a lump of feces. Dead or non-living things don't grow.

However, this is irrelevant. As we know, someone's heart can stop completely yet they can still be revived, their heart restarted, provided help doesn't take too long. Also, someone can lose all brain activity and still be biologically alive, although the person they were is gone. However, this is much different than a zygote/embryo/fetus because in a brain dead patient, the person will never recover whereas in a ZEF, their biological life is just beginning and they are developing upon the natural path of human development.

To respond to Con's contentions.

C1: Humans establish their moral right to live on a scale of viability.

Con has not successfully established this point. His contention that we are all guilty every time someone we know dies is ridiculous. I am not a trained physician. If someone dies I am not at fault because I don't have the knowledge or training to save them. If I do have that knowledge or training, then I am at fault for allowing someone to die that I could have saved.

If someone has "slackened their grip on life," then we are not morally justified in allowing that person to die (not to mention, Con has not proven that we are). If a person is shot on a battlefield, if the medic chooses not to save him then the medic is at fault for the loss of life. He would likely be court-martialed and sent to jail, losing his job as a medic and probably given a dishonorable discharge.

Doctors are able to reasonably assess an ailment and how much of a chance a person stands of living. They don't give up unless they see there is absolutely nothing they can do. Unless the person, themselves (or someone with power of attorney) says stop giving care, doctors will do all that they can do for that person. Doctors are morally required to do no less.

However, these points are irrelevant since Con is talking about allowing an ailing person to die, and abortion is being the agent of killing another living human.

C2: Foetal uncertainty/action or inaction

Here, Con has created a strawman argument against me. I did not call them "pre-human," I called them "preborn humans." In other words, they are humans simply before the event of birth. They are human from fertilization, as I established in the last round.

In the cases where a blastocyst implants itself in the wrong area, if the woman's immediate life is in danger then it no longer becomes a case of abortion but triage. Both mother and child are in danger but only one can be saved, the one with the greater chance of survival, the mother, is saved. It is not a question of valuing one over the other, but saving the one with the greater chance of survival. All humans are equally valuable -- the preborn human is as valuable as the mother, and you have not shown why it should not be considered less valuable.

In the case of twins, it should be considered on a case-by-case basis. The preborn are not potential humans, they are humans -- they are potential toddlers. If there is only one zygote, we treat it as a human life. If it splits off into twins, then there are now two lives to take care of. It doesn't matter if it has the "potential" to split into twins. If there's only one zygote, there is one human life present and it should be protected.

Additionally, it doesn't matter how many pregnancies end in miscarriage. People die of natural causes. That does not morally justify murder. As such, miscarriages do not morally justify abortion.

In fact, the pro-life position is the only consistent one -- that life begins at fertilization. Pro-choicers come up with many different times to determine if it's a life (e.g. viability, birth, quickening, etc.) But these all change based on the individual. Especially viability, considering that medical technologies continue to improve, the viability of a preborn fetus changes.

C3: Who's morality?

First, I would like to make something clear. What I have said in past debates is irrelevant. People on this site often play devil's advocate so their words could not be used against them without creating a strawman argument.

Secondly, only some truths are subjective. For example, the best ice cream flavor or the best musical style, are subjective opinions. However, morality is objective. Killing an innocent person is always wrong. This is something that most people know. If someone would not feel remorse over killing someone else, they are considered a psychopath and locked away in a mental institution. Killing and innocent person being wrong is an objective truth. It doesn't matter what "subjective opinion" says about abortion.

The preborn are humans from fertilization and killing an innocent person is wrong.

[1] http://www.mayoclinic.com...;
Debate Round No. 2
Ricky_Zahnd

Con

Thank you for your response - a very interesting read!

The primary thrust of Pro's argument is that it is wrong to kill an innocent human. I do not disagree. However, I do argue that this idea misses the point. The whole idea of innocence is based on the idea that the subject is innocent of something - it implies punishment. You cannot punish something that cannot know it is being punished. The idea that one should refer to human grubs as human is equally absurd - should we start calling caterpillars butterflies, right from the beginning as well? There is no test (aside from DNA) that would demonstrate a zygote to be comparable to a human. In the early stages of formation embryos (regardless of the terminology, thanks for correcting me though) possess none of our cognition, senses, or anything that one thinks of when talking about living things. It is more morally correct to terminate something with no awareness than to cause suffering in something that is aware of that suffering.

This is the reason I brought up the brain-dead patient. It is not only the fact that they stand low chance to recover that makes them candidates for termination, it is also the fact that they are unaware. This is a position that many people hold to be morally correct, and if my opponent wishes to negate their opinions and morality he must show that his own view of morality is superior.


I see that Pro has decided to abandon foisting the BoP on me re: proving that the preborn human is not a living human. I think this was wise, as that idea is not necessarily contested and has no bearing on this debate. I ask that readers note that it has been abandoned.

C1

In Pro's refutation he suggests that receiving medical training causes one to be morally required to save strangers lives whenever they may be imperilled. The existence of the term "good samaritan" shows why this is incorrect. Helping a stranger is a mitzvah - it gives one a karmic boost precisely because it is not required. Beyond this I'm not going to respond to Pro's other points, as they don't serve to advance an argument individually. Ignoring them does not represent concession. I refer back to my first paragraph of this round as further explanation of why my first condition remains valid. I.e., it is more morally correct to terminate something with no awareness than to cause suffering in something that is aware of that suffering.

C2

In Pro's refutation he suggests that my argument was a straw man. This seems to be a misunderstanding of what constitutes a straw man argument. In order to be a straw man my argument must have misrepresented his position, which it did not. I did slightly misquote him, and I apologize for that error, but the slight change in phrasing does not alter the representation of his position substantially, and therefore my argument still stands. I.e., regardless of whether or not a fetus is substantively human, you cannot murder something that stands less than a 1 in 5 chance of ever having a heartbeat.

C3

I seem to have touched a nerve in quoting you - I certainly didn't mean to. However, the the multitudes of human cultures and respective mores - as well as this very debate - stand in stark testament to the subjectivity of morality.

I believe that killing is morally wrong because it causes suffering, and making the choice to abort does not cause one to suffer. I know that many other people think that killing is wrong for a different reason - a reason that is linked to Christian belief in a human "soul." In religions such as Islam, adherents believe that some murder is even sanctioned by God. If such a fundamental moral issue as murder can differ based on religious beliefs, then my opponent must admit that morality is indeed subjective.

To reiterate my previous point - why should someone else's morality apply to a woman who wants to abort an unwanted pregnancy (allowed by her own moral code)? If my opponent wishes to successfully affirm the resolution, he must prove that the moral code of these women is inferior to another, true moral code, and that that code entirely and unflinchingly rules out abortion as a moral possibility. I would note that I am not aware of an established moral code for which this is true, so Pro seems to have his work cut out for him in this department.
KeytarHero

Pro

I wish to thank Con for this debate, and hope that the readers, likewise, consider this an interesting topic of discussion.

Notice that Con has actually agreed with my contention, that it is wrong to kill an innocent human. This should clinch the debate for me, for as we know we are human from fertilization (as I showed in my first argument) and the preborn are innocent. They have not committed any crime, and certainly not one deserving of being put to death for it.

Con has gone off on a red herring. The preborn are innocent of any wrongdoing -- it doesn't matter whether they understand punishment or not, they have not committed any crime. We don't punish them, not due to ignorance of what punishment is, but because they have not done anything wrong. In the vast majority of cases, the mother and father are responsible for the child's creation.

The preborn are not simple "human grubs," but are in fact new, unique human beings (again, please refer to the embryologists from my first argument). Caterpillars should not be called butterflies from the beginning because they are caterpillars. They go through a process of metamorphosis and change into butterflies. But at no time in human gestation does an embryo suddenly go through a metamorphosis and suddenly "become" human. Zygote/embryo/fetus are just stages of human development, as toddler/adolescent/teenager are.

Con would also have us believe that it is more morally acceptable to kill someone in their sleep than to kill them while they're awake because they would have no awareness of it. It would be equally wrong to kill a sleeping person and a person who is awake because you are killing an intrinsically valuable human being. The reason it is morally wrong to kill a preborn human is because they have a future like we do. A braindead person does not have a future as anything. The person they were is gone and will never come back. But a living preborn human is a growing, valuable human being with a future as a living, valuable human being. It has nothing to do with one's morality. The only reason for keeping a brain dead patient alive is because their family isn't able to let go.

(Also, I don't mean to be nit-picky but if someone insists on using the "scientifically correct terms" of zygote, embryo and fetus over "child," I insist on using the "scientifically correct terms" correctly.)

I have not abandoned my argument that abortion is wrong because it kills a living human being. You have just not refuted it yet. In order to prove abortion is morally justified, you must prove that killing an innocent human being is morally justified (which you even admitted to in your opening paragraph last round).

C1

I was indicating that having medical training puts a moral responsibility to save someone in the example you provided (a soldier shot on a battlefield, or someone I know dying). If I have not been trained in CPR or the Heimlich maneuver, I should not attempt to administer these on someone who needs it because I could make the situation worse.

I have already shown that it is not more morally correct to terminate someone with no awareness.

I have already stated the points were irrelevant because in these cases, you are allowing someone to die whereas in abortion, you are acting to take the life of the living human being.

C2

A straw man argument is an argument is an argument you create that I don't hold to, and attack that position. It may not completely be a strawman but you did misquote me and try to use the argument against me. I did not state that the preborn are "pre-human." That would indicate they are not yet human and then become human at some arbitrary point in their development. This was not my argument, so it did substantially misrepresent my argument. My argument is that we are human from fertilization. Not "pre-human" but "preborn humans." In other words, human before the point at which they are born.

Therefore, his argument fails. I have already shown this. Yes, women do miscarry. But humans die of natural causes. This does not give us a right to murder. Women miscarry, but this does not give us a right to commit abortion. As such, I push last round's refutation of C2 forward into the next round. With one addendum, that I meant to include in my argument. It is scientifically incorrect to state that just because a preborn human's heart has not started beating yet, it is not alive or not human. The young human is still developing the heart. In fact, a born human's heart can stop beating and be re-started, and the person survives. They may not be able to survive for long with the heart, but they can survive.

A person's body is not truly "dead" until its cells stop communicating with each other. This is why a brain dead patient can still continue to grow. Before the heart develops, the zygote/embryo is still a living human that develops itself from within. It is not yet dependent on the heart for survival because it has not yet reached that point in its development.

C3

You haven't touched a nerve in quoting me. I was just showing that my words in previous debates cannot be used against me in this debate. This debate is what matters. For example, peoples' beliefs evolve and even if I had believed in subjective truth in the past, I may have rejected that in favor of objective truth now. As such, what matters in this debate are my arguments in this debate.

The question of whether an embryo/fetus can feel pain is academic. First of all, if your argument for abortion is that the unborn don't suffer, then you must be against abortions after 20 weeks because 20-week-old fetuses feel pain. [1] Also, whose suffering are you talking about? Abortions affect not only the mother, but the father who may have wanted to keep the child. What about others in their life which may be emotionally distraught that she had an abortion? Additionally, what of the fact that the person you're killing doesn't get a choice as to whether to live or die?

Not all killings cause pain. I already used the example of killing someone in their sleep. But what if you poison someone? Or use a method that kills instantly without causing pain? Does that become morally acceptable?

Many people are against abortion because they believe in an immortal soul, but it's not essential to the pro-life position. There are pro-life atheists.

My opponent still has not proven that killing an innocent human being is wrong (in fact, he admitted that it is). It doesn't matter what our respective moralities are. It is commonly accepted that killing an innocent human is wrong. Con has not given an acceptable reason that killing an innocent human in utero is morally justified while killing an innocent human outside the womb is not.

[1] http://discovermagazine.com...;
Debate Round No. 3
Ricky_Zahnd

Con

As it is the final round, I will simply be reaffirming my positions as previously stated.

It seems that Pro has misunderstood or merely mischaracterized my position - so I will attempt to make it as clear as possible.


Pro states that the debate should be "clinched" for him, as I have not claimed that it is right to kill innocent humans. I will quote myself: "you cannot punish something that cannot know it is being punished," and "humanity or lack thereof is not necessary to provide moral justification for its termination." I refer further to my previous arguments:

"I do not claim that zygotes are not potential humans, but I do claim that those who have already struggled into the world have more of a claim on life than a pile of cells with a squidge of DNA"

and

"82% of 'pre-humans' will never be humans. I argue then that you cannot murder something that stands less than a 1 in 5 chance of ever having a heartbeat."

For these previously established reasons, it does not matter whether or not it is wrong to murder the innocent - that is not what is contested. What is contested is the conditions under which one must be considered human for moral purposes - not scientific ones. As I indicated previously, these qualities include cognizance, self-awareness and feelings, as well as the ability to make choices. These qualities exclude sleeping people,[5] but include those in persistent vegetative states - which, again, is why I brought them up - and early stages of pregnancy.

Pro claimed that cellular division (growth) and respiration are adequate signs of life, but again I remind the reader that these same qualities apply to dog crap. Organisms within feces are breathing and reproducing, but we would never consider a moral obligation to them. Again, the argument over whether a zygote is human or not is merely semantic, and has no bearing on the outcome of this debate. In some respects it must make sense to refer to them as human, but that sense does not necessarily apply to moral obligation any more than in the case of feces. I, as well as many others, consider the conditions of one's existence to be substantive, rather than the terminology by which we refer to them. Some people's moral ideologies do determine the morality of abortion based on that terminology, but certainly not everyones - which brings me to my next point.

Pro states that "it doesn't matter what our respective moralities are. It is commonly accepted that killing an innocent human is wrong. Con has not given an acceptable reason that killing an innocent human in utero is morally justified while killing an innocent human outside the womb is not."

However, I have continually been discussing some main points of Pro-Choice ideology over the course of this debate. If my arguments have not convinced Pro personally, that is alright, and I am not required to convince him by the terms of this debate. As I stated earlier, "the onus is on me to demonstrate that there do exist moral justifications for abortion, and my opponent must demonstrate that there do not." In satisfying my burden, it is not necessary for me to show the falsehood of commonly accepted ideas - that is the burden of Pro, my opponent, who must "demonstrate that there do not." As for Pro's contention that I have not
"given an acceptable reason that killing an innocent human in utero is morally justified," I would ask the reader to refer back and see whether or not I have spent the majority of this debate giving exactly those sorts of reasons - reasons which define the differences between a human in utero, and one ex utero (if you will). It is irrelevant whether or not Pro finds my reasons "acceptable." What is relevant is that I and many others find those reasons to be ample moral justification for abortion - so I have indeed shown that there do exist moral justifications for abortion, satisfying my burden.

In contradiction to Pro's notion of morality as "objective fact," the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines morality is

1. descriptively to refer to some codes of conduct put forward by a society or,


      1. some other group, such as a religion, or



      1. accepted by an individual for her* own behavior


It is the merest truism to state that there exist societies, groups of people, and individuals that feel that abortion is morally defensible in many cases. For instance, The National Abortion Federation [1], Pro-Choice America, [2], and Planned Parenthood [3], as well as the 1973 Supreme Court of the United States of America.[4] Even the Hebrew Bible discussed circumstances under which abortion is morally acceptable, in Numbers 5:11-31.[6]

While I disagree with the Bible's proposition that abortion should be used as a punishment, it still stands as another of many examples of abortion-accepting moralities. Pro's idea of "objective truth" may represent his personal view, but it is not the same as morality - which is a formally defined concept. In light of this, Pro's "objective truth" should not be considered in determining the outcome of this debate.

Pro has additionally failed to even mention my twice stated point, that he "must demonstrate that one conception of morality is superior to all others, and that it entirely and unflinchingly rules out abortion as a possibility." As I stated, "if he cannot, then he must accept that the subjectivity of morality provides its own justifications for abortion, and the resolution is moot."

The fact that he has failed to address this marks the barest proof that he has not affirmed the resolution. To reiterate, as Pro has not - in any round of this debate - demonstrated that a single morality exists by which abortion is considered indefensible,[7] then he has failed to prove that abortion is morally indefensible. His attempts to characterize this debate in other terms have been refuted, but this most evident requirement stands untouched by him. By the terms set out at the start of this debate, Pro has lost.

The fact that I have succeeded in demonstrating that there exist many moral justifications or abortion marks just as clearly that I have negated the resolution. I have given substantial evidence that early stage in utero humans differ from those post-birth, and that many people hold that evidence as moral justification for abortion. By the terms set out at the start of this debate, I have won.

Thanks for reading our debate.

citations:
[1]http://www.prochoice.org...
[2]http://www.prochoiceamerica.org...
[3]http://www.plannedparenthood.org...
[4]http://en.wikipedia.org...
[5] As in the straw man "Con would have us believe that it is more morally acceptable to kill someone in their sleep..."
[6]http://www.biblegateway.com...
[7] Which is of course clearly impossible to begin with..
*sic

KeytarHero

Pro

As this is the final round, I will not make any new arguments. I will simply refute the remainders of Con's arguments.

I have not misunderstood his position. I have simply shown that it does not morally justify abortion.

Con did, indeed, claim to agree with me. I will quote him: "...it is wrong to kill an innocent human being. I do not disagree." If you don't disagree with this statement, you agree with it. This idea does not miss the point, especially since Con did not offer any compelling reasons that it is morally justified to kill an innocent human being in the womb rather than outside.

I have already defeated Con's statement that you cannot punish something that cannot know it is being punished, and that humanity is not necessary to provide moral justification for abortion. If the child in the womb is an innocent human being, and it is wrong to kill an innocent human being (as Con does not disagree), then the humanity of the unborn is necessary to provide moral justification for its termination.

Con's statement that fertilized blastocysts that are miscarried will never be humans is simply incorrect (as I have shown in my original argument -- we are humans from fertilization). Additionally, he has not shown why someone who is in the world (in other words, born) has a high claim on life than a human zygote or blastocyst in the earliest stages of human development.

Con has never, up to this point in the debate, actually made a claim that we should not consider a preborn human to be anything other than human (despite the fact that biology clearly shows we are). He has not indicated that cognizance, self-aware and feelings are necessary. These are new arguments. The only qualification he gave was that killing born people is wrong because they suffer, but I have already shown why killing a human is wrong. Not all dying people suffer, and the preborn can feel pain past 20 weeks in the womb. What really matters is that abortion kills an innocent human being.

I will briefly tackle Con's new arguments.

It seems to me that Con's arguments, cognizance, self-awareness and feelings, can be summed up in sentience. Preborn humans, while not exhibiting signs of sentience under some peoples' definitions, are members of a sentient species. In fact, toddlers who are out of the womb are less developed than adults. They have a very limited cognizance of their surroundings. They are constantly learning, and that learning doesn't stop.

These qualifications actually don't exclude sleeping people, and it wasn't a strawman argument. While we are asleep, we are not aware of our surroundings (in fact, when we sleep we often think we are somewhere else). People who die in their sleep don't suffer. They have no feelings, and they are not cognizant of the world around them. If Con's qualifications were correct, they could also be used to justify killing someone in their sleep, or in a coma in which they have a good chance of recovering from.

Con claims that the qualifications for life are present in dog feces, but then goes on to talk about the organisms dwelling on those feces. So clearly the qualifications for life actually aren't present in the feces. Con's argument here fails. The bacteria that dwells on the feces is not inherently valuable, as humans are. Humans are much more complex and simply by virtue of being human should their right to life be respected and protected.

The argument over the humanity of a zygote is not semantic. They have human DNA, and everything reproduces after its own kind. Dogs have dogs, cats have cats, and humans have humans. At no point in a human's development do they go from being non-human to being human, and Con has not shown that they do.

Actually, Con seems to not be up on Pro-Choice ideology. In fact, sophisticated Pro-Choicers, such as Peter Singer and Judith Jarvis Thompson (who came up with the famous analogy of the violinist), admit the full humanity of the preborn (see my first round argument for Peter Singer's words). They have more sophisticated arguments for abortion that don't argue against the humanity of the preborn, which is obvious. In fact, Peter Singer takes the Pro-Choice position to its natural conclusion and supports infanticide.

Con has not satisfied his burden of proof, that abortion is morally justified. He has not given sufficient reason to kill a living human in the womb that can't also be applied to a living human outside the womb. If he cannot bring himself to support murder of certain individuals, he has given no reason to kill people with similar circumstances inside the womb.

As a matter of fact, it was I who first gave the conditions of victory. Con, in his first round, vaguely indicated that arguments about morality would play a part, but it wasn't until round two that he decided to define what my conditions for victory would be. I have satisfied my burden of proof in showing that it is not morally justified in killing a living, preborn human by the standards set by Con.

The verses from the Hebrew Bible that Con quotes are irrelevant. The problem is that children were a huge deal to the Israelites, so for a woman to become barren (which was the real punishment) was to make her basically an outcast. And if preborn children do go to Heaven (as there is good Biblical reason to accept this), then to have the woman miscarry would not be a punishment for the child miscarried. It was not an abortion-accepting morality. God is the giver of life, and only He has the right to take it.

Con's contention that I must demonstrate that one conception of morality is superior to another was added post hoc to my statement that for Con to win, he must show that it is morally acceptable to kill an innocent human being.

Con has not successfully refuted my position, that it is wrong to kill innocent human beings. That was my argument from the start because Con did not make his argument clear from the beginning. He has not given any reasons to support killing a preborn human that could not also be used to kill a human outside of the womb.

Con has not satisfied his burden of proof, and I have satisfied mine in spades. Please vote Pro.
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by KeytarHero 5 years ago
KeytarHero
I see. I actually did respond to the awareness thing with the sleeping person. I think based on the context of your argument I didn't realize you were arguing for sentience.
Posted by Ricky_Zahnd 5 years ago
Ricky_Zahnd
round three: "it is more morally correct to terminate something with no awareness" etc. and in round two i discuss the lack of brain activity as being important. i didnt use the word "cognizance" before round three, but i did express the same idea on a few occasions.
Posted by KeytarHero 5 years ago
KeytarHero
Ricky, can you point out in your previous rounds where you talked about cognizance, self-awareness, and having feelings, as what makes someone outside the womb more valuable than someone inside? The only argument I saw you make for that was that murder causes suffering, so it's better to kill someone in the womb because they don't suffer.

It's possible I didn't catch it, but could you please point out the round and arguments you made for cognizance, self-awareness, and feelings?
Posted by Ricky_Zahnd 5 years ago
Ricky_Zahnd
I'm not at all sure where you guys are seeing new arguments from me in the final round. Try as I might, I can only see re-statements and refutation. I don't mind keytar making a claim that I am - he can claim whatever he wants - but its very frustrating when people vote based on falsehoods.
Posted by Ricky_Zahnd 5 years ago
Ricky_Zahnd
Sorry - unintentional stawman - I didn't mean to misquote you. I was going as fast as possible cause of the deadline. If you pretend I didn't forget what the exact language was it will probably be more clear - it doesnt look as though it makes a difference, content-wise, though.
Posted by KeytarHero 5 years ago
KeytarHero
I think you've created a strawman argument against me. I didn't call zygotes/embryos/fetuses pre-human, I called them preborn humans. In other words, humans before they are born. Still human.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by NewCreature 5 years ago
NewCreature
Ricky_ZahndKeytarHeroTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: con did not have ANY moral arguments. added new arguments in the last round.
Vote Placed by KRFournier 5 years ago
KRFournier
Ricky_ZahndKeytarHeroTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Con brought up sentience too late, and the focus on subjective morality meant I could essentially use my own subjective morality to decide who was more convincing. Argument to Pro. Conduct to Pro for Con adding new arguments in last round.
Vote Placed by SuburbiaSurvivor 5 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
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Total points awarded:24 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct goes to Pro since Con cited false information about a embryo devleopment. Con didn't really make much of an argument for why abortion is morally acceptable, and for the awareness argument Pro's refutation was thorough. Sources to Con though. He used more sources and better ones.