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

Abortion is murder.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 9/28/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,209 times Debate No: 62393
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




Abortion has undoubtedly become a serious issue in today's world. People are debating the legality and ethicality of abortion, and they have developed different opinions on the subject. I believe that abortion is murder, and that it is unethical in many senses. The first round will be used solely for the opening arguments. The second and third rounds will be used for the main arguments, and for the rebuttal of the arguments of the opponent. The fourth round will be used for the closing arguments. I extend my gratitude towards anyone who is willing to debate on this topic.


First things first, I think "murder" requires a definition. However, I don't think PRO means "murder" in the legal sense. So, I shall take it to mean something akin to "the intentional killing of a human being" where the intent is NOT self-defense or defense of others.

That said, I will simply make a few opening comments, but no real "argument" until next round.

I do not hold abortion to be murder, but I do find abortion to be unethical in certain circumstances. The main issue I have with it is that women are given full autonomy, but men are given absolutely none. If a man gets a woman pregnant, he is essentially at her mercy. Though not all women are conniving and vile, the fact that a man is not able to relinquish rights and responsibilities is an immense problem, in my eyes. Many people disagree, on the grounds that he still has a responsibility to the child, but I always find that this reason is highly inconsistent. Mothers who give their children up for adoption also have a responsibility, yet adoption is supported. It's all a confusing mess, in my opinion.

Now to get off my soup box, and get this debate underway.

Good Luck PRO!
Debate Round No. 1


The Oxford English Dictionary defines murder as "the deliberate and unlawful killing of a human being, especially in a premeditated manner." Abortion fits this description in the sense that abortion is deliberate on the part of the abortion clinic and of the woman. Murder can also be defined as the deprivation of the life of another being without that other being's consent. Babies do not have a say in deciding whether there should be an abortion. The U.S. Declaration of Independence lists three "unalienable rights", which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The word unalienable, which has been largely replaced with the word "inalienable", refers to something that can not be taken away or denied. However, the baby who is aborted has been denied the right to life; therefore, abortion technically violates the basis of modern democracy. I will further my arguments in the next round.



To start off, I’m going to go ahead and knock down the first definition given by PRO. Barring the fact that I have already offered* a definition for “murder”, PRO’s first definition would actually seal the debate for me.

If murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, abortion cannot be murder because it is legal. Thus, by PRO’s own definition of the term, abortion cannot be murder, because abortion is legal. Thus, abortion is not murder, and PRO has refuted the resolution for me.

Killing vs Murder

PRO’s second definition of “murder” is problematic as well. It seems to clash with common usage of the term, as well as self-defense and accidental deaths. When “murder” is used, it generally refers to the intentional killing of another human being. When someone talks about hunting, for instance, they do not say “I murdered a few deer”, they say “I killed a few deer”. When someone is being attacked, and their choice to defend themselves lead directly to the assailant’s death, this is not considered murder. The defender killed the assailant. Also, consider a death via accident. If I were to hit someone with my car by accident, and they died, this would be not be considered murder, assuming I immediately notified someone, and didn’t flee when authorities arrived. However, if I were to walk up to someone and shoot them, it would be considered murder. What are the key differences? Well, first, there is the issue of premeditation [D3]. I have chosen to walk around with a gun, aim it at someone and pull the trigger. Further, there is the fact that I am a human, and the other being that I have killed is human. So, based on what we use the terms to refer to, we can arrive at an edited version of Oxford Dictionaries definition [D2]. “Murder” is the intentional (or premeditated) killing of another human being. If PRO wants us to consider as “murder” the killing of other animals as well, this argument will have to be presented, as that is a move from the status quo.

What is a “Human Being”?

A fetus is necessarily dependent on its mother for life. There is a point where a fetus becomes viable outside of the womb, which is considered to be roughly 24 weeks [1]. This is, roughly, at the end of the second (2nd) trimester.

  1. A. Human Beings are autonomous creatures.

Prior to this point, a fetus is identical to a parasite [D5] (note this is not meant as disrespect or belittlement, but rather as comparison). A fetus lives inside of its mother, and cannot exist without the nutrients provided by her. While the genetic code of a fetus is that of a human being, it would seem that there is a crucial difference between a fetus under 24 weeks, and a baby. While a baby might need to be fed and nursed, it does not get these nutrients from a host, to the detriment of said host. A mother must eat more than normal, deal with “morning sickness”, fatigue, cramping, nausea, and bloating, to mention a few things, when she is pregnant [2]. While these are not guaranteed symptoms, they are quite common, and are to be generally expected.

In order for an entity with the genetic code of a homo sapien to be considered a human being, it must have this autonomous nature. A baby might be entirely vulnerable to the world without someone else to provide for it, but at the very least, it has internal systems to sustain itself, unlike a fetus, which must rely upon the systems of another being to survive, at least prior to the point of viability. This is what I mean by the term “autonomous”. It should be taken to mean this any time I refer to it, unless otherwise specified.

  • B. Human beings are sentient creatures.

Along with this, there is the issue of brain activity and ability to feel pain. It is estimated that a fetus can feel pain as early as 18 weeks [4]. So, at 18 weeks a baby is what we consider “sentient” [D4]. Prior to this point, while we can consider the fetus as a living entity, it is not a sentient being. Rather, it is similar to a plant or fungi, in that it is living, but it does not feel pain, at least not noticeably so. It does grow, and does take in nutrients, but it is non-sentient. Such things as warm-bloodedness or upright walking are too narrow to describe animal life. Prior to the 18 week mark, fetuses do not count as animals at all.

Further characteristics include self-awareness and what I shall term “drive to survive”. A person is capable of recognizing that they are separate from their environment. A person also has a desire to maintain their life. A fetus is not capable of either of these things. A fetus thus cannot be a person, thus when a pregnancy is terminated, it does not qualify as murder, as they are not human beings. A baby gains a certain level of leeway on this point, as there exist people, who are directly involved with the baby, who have what I shall term a “drive to protect”. The baby does qualify as an autonomous creature. Additionally, there is a certain level of respect given to those who do love the baby. The same respect that is given to such animals as cats, dogs, chimpanzees, and lizards, to name a few. Essentially, this level of respect has to do with the wishes of the being involved.

Affirming the resolution

PRO’s arguments rest on the assumption that fetuses are human beings. Until PRO can make this very crucial link, the resolution cannot be affirmed. The only way abortion can become murder is if fetuses are, in fact, human beings.

Human beings are autonomous, sentient creatures. Fetuses do not exhibit the characteristics of sentience, nor do they exhibit the characteristics of autonomy. As I have explained, autonomy as I mean it here mainly refers to the internal systems which are key to a human beings survival. Fetuses after 24 weeks do have this characteristic.

The argument is as follows:

  • P1. For all x, if x is a human, then x is autonomous and sentient (Analysis of “Human Being”).

  • P2. Fetuses, prior to 24 weeks, are not autonomous (A)

  • P3 Fetuses, prior to 24 weeks, are not sentient. (B)

  • C1. Fetuses, prior to 24 weeks, are not humans (P1, (P2&P3) MP)

  • P4. Murder is the intentional killing of a human being, not in self-defense or defense of others (def. of murder).

  • P5. Abortion causes the death of a fetus.

  • C2. Abortion causes the death of non-humans (C1, P5)

  • C3. Abortion is not murder. (P5, C2)

Do note that the resolution is a Universal Claim. PRO must show it to be the case that abortion, regardless of when it occurs, is murder. Unfortunately, I think I have given strong reasons to believe that abortion prior to the point of viability (24 weeks) is not (the intentional killing of a human being, where the intent is NOT self-defense or defense of others).

With that, I’ll pass things back over to PRO to begin Round 3.

* Definitions are to be established by the instigator before the debate officially begins. Not only this, but PRO’s definition is specifically geared toward their arguments. That is to say, the definition is biased. Being that I offered a definition prior to this round, and PRO has not presented a valid objection to it, I take severe issue with the redefinition of terms. I think it is disingenuous to begin a debate, but not make your opponent aware of the definitions you will choose to use, and then present those definition after the debate has begun.












Debate Round No. 2


Here is my response to con's previous arguments:
C1: There are three characteristics that define all living things:
1) All living things are constructed of cells.
2) All living things reproduce.
3) Living things are can create organisms of only the same species.
This third point is important. The fetus was produced by two human beings; one was male, and the other was female. According to the third point, since the fetus, which is an organism, was created by humans, the fetus is technically a human.
C2: According to my response to C1, human beings are fetuses.
C3: As we have discussed before, murder is the deliberate and premeditated killing of a human being. Therefore, since fetuses are human beings, as we have established in my response to C1, and since abortion is premeditated and always results in the death of the fetus, abortion legitimately qualifies as murder.
I wish my opponent the best of luck for the next round.


Introduction and Review

Since PRO’s opening round has little for me to respond to, I’m going to take on his Opening Statements and Rebuttals in this round. Normally, I would save my counter-rebuttals for Round 4, but given the very small volume of arguments in Round 2, I’m going to use Round 3 to address PRO’s arguments from R2 and R3.

Also, do remember that PRO has full Burden of Proof here. It is not on me to prove the resolution false. It is on PRO to demonstrate the resolution true. To do this, PRO must show that fetuses are human beings.

Round 2

“Abortion fits [the first definition] in the sense that abortion is deliberate on the part of the abortion clinic and of the woman.”

Deliberate? Yes. Unlawful [D1]? Well, abortion is legal. Which is to say that abortion is permitted by law. So, no, abortion is not unlawful. Since it is not unlawful, PRO will need to offer another reason to believe abortion is murder.

“Murder can also be defined as the deprivation of the life of another being without that other being's consent.”

“Can also be defined as”? So, stepping on an ant by accident is murder by both definitions? I think not. If this definition is appropriate, it should coincide with our own understanding of the term, at least in general usage. Unfortunately, PRO’s definition of murder here seems to be quite contrary to the consensus on the term. While there are a number of theories regarding the meanings of words and how definitions are arrived at, there is still the issue of why we should accept definitions. PRO’s definition does not coincide with our understanding of the term. Generally, a definition should answer the question “What is ____?” and relatively accurately express what we mean. Definitions are formal expressions of what we mean when we use a certain word. When someone says “A killed B”, there are several interpretations of the term. For example, A could have killed B in self-defense, or hit B with a car, or something of that sort. However, to say “A murdered B” is to say there was some level of intent or planning. So, I am lead to consider this definition inappropriate. I would implore the audience to take this line of reasoning into consideration.

Round 3

Attacking a Syllogism

I would like to call to attention the nature of deductive argument. With logically valid syllogisms, the conclusion is a result of the premises. That is to say, when the premises are true, and the argument is valid, the conclusion must be true as well [1]. PRO would have to address one or both of the premises of my arguments to show my conclusions false. That is how logical arguments work. Now, if the information that PRO was introducing were capable of disproving my conclusion, that would be different, but simply stating that fetuses are living things is insufficient to do that.

However, I will still addresses PRO’s “responses” just to further solidify my case.

Response to C1:

“3) Living things [can] create organisms of only the same species…

According to the third point, since the fetus, which is an organism, was created by humans, the fetus is technically a human.”

Correction: “the fetus is technically a human in development”. If PRO’s reasoning and conclusion are correct, the claim that “an acorn is an oak tree” should be a true claim. However, the acorn must go through a process before it can be described as a tree. Likewise, a fetus must undergo a process before it can be considered a tree. The nature of the acorn is the same as that of an oak tree; the acorn has the potentiality to be a tree. The fetus has the potentiality to be a human. Potential to be a thing does not mean one is that thing. I could, potentially, be a graphic novelist, for instance. There is nothing about me that prevents this from being so, but in order for it to be so, there must be further circumstances in place. Likewise, in order for a fetus to be a human being, something more than genetic coding must be in place. There is the (general) physical structure that we expect of humans, the ability to breathe through a set of lungs, the ability to process nutrients via an individual system (I use my stomach to digest the food I put into my mouth), and awareness of and response to outside stimuli. Such things are true of all mammals, yet not true of fetuses [1]. All humans are mammals. To be a human actually requires that you are a mammal, which in turn requires that you are an animal. Despite the fact that fetuses can be considered alive (as alive as plants, fungi, and bacteria), they do not exhibit some of the more basic biological requirements of being animals, let alone being mammals or humans. Being that the status of “animal” is required to being human, fetuses must exhibit these basic animal characteristics to be considered human beings.

Having the same genetic coding doesn’t equate having the same designation.

Response to C2

Hinges on Response to C1.

Response to C3

Also hinges on response to C1.


I find PRO’s arguments thus far highly inadequate. PRO would have us believe that the only requirement to be considered “alive” when one is an animal is that one has the genetic code of an animal. By that logic, all animals are alive, but all animals are not alive. So, there must be a problem with PRO’s reasoning. I would submit that PRO has failed to fully assess the traits that are included in “life” when it comes to animals. Plants, fungi, and bacteria are all living things, but they are alive in a different ways. I would accept the claim that killing animals is murder, as one can make a reasonable case for that interpretation of “murder”. I have offered a stipulated definition of “human being” based on similarities to other animals to avoid that discussion, but PRO hasn’t even addressed that stipulated definition, despite the fact that it could be objected to.










Debate Round No. 3


Here are my responses to two of my own statements, which have been questioned by my opponent and by spectators of this debate.

"Abortion fits this description in the sense that abortion is deliberate on the part of the abortion clinic and of the woman."

In Round 2, I quoted the OED definition of the word "murder." The OED states that murder is "the deliberate and unlawful killing of a human being, especially in a premeditated sense." My opponent has pointed out that abortion is legal in most countries, however, abortion is still unlawful under all circumstances in Chile, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, and Malta (Wikipedia). This contradicts con when he says, "[Is abortion] unlawful? Well, abortion is legal. Which is to say that abortion is permitted by law. So, no, abortion is not unlawful." When con said, "Abortion is legal," without distinguishing that abortion is illegal in certain areas, we can assume that he intended to say, "Abortion is universally legal," meaning that abortion is not illegal in any part of the world. However, as I have just stated, several countries have banned abortion under all circumstances. Since a large part of con's argument is based upon the fact that abortion is legal and can therefore cannot be classified as murder, and since it has been established that abortion is indeed illegal in several countries, we must move on to the next point.

"Since the fetus, which is an organism, was created by humans, the fetus is technically human."

Con has compared the status of a fetus as a human to that of an acorn as an oak tree. He has stated that an acorn is not an oak tree, but is an oak tree in development. I will respond to this analogy with an analogy of my own. Imagine that there is a cake baking in the oven. Now, we refer to the confection baking in the oven as a cake, even though the confection is still in the process of being developed in the oven by means of heat. Now imagine that the oven is a metaphor for the womb, and the cake is a metaphor for a fetus. Would that change the fact that a fetus is a human? I will also remind you of how Abraham Lincoln pointed out that if we were to regard a sheep's tail as a leg, the sheep would still have only four legs. This means that if we were to call an object something that it isn't, we do not change what it is. If we were to consider a fetus something other than a human, we do not change the fact that it is a human.

Let us go back to the definition of murder, "the deliberate and unlawful killing of a human being, especially in a premeditated manner." I have established that abortion is deliberate, unlawful, results in the death of a human being, and is premeditated. Therefore, abortion is murder.


Standing Arguments

PRO has yet to address the meat of my arguments. I would like to reiterate that in order to avoid the conclusion of my syllogism, PRO must address one, or both, of the premises. So long as the premises stand, the conclusions stand as well.


My argument is as follows:

  1. 1. If x is a human, then x is autonomous and sentient.

  2. 2. Fetuses are not autonomous.

  3. 3. Fetuses are not sentient.

  4. 4. Thus, fetuses are not human. (1, (2&3) MT)

  5. 5. Abortions cause the death of a fetus.

  6. 6. Abortions cause the death of non-humans. (4,5)

  7. 7. Therefore, abortion is not murder.

In order to adequately address my argument, PRO needs to attack the premises. Simply addressing (4) and (7) does not work. So long as the premises stand, the conclusion does as well.

Burden of Proof is on PRO to establish the resolution as true. My only obligation is only to refute his arguments. PRO’s arguments are insufficient to establish the truth of the universal statement “Abortion is murder”.

Abortion is illegal in some countries

Assuming this is accurate, I do not see how it leads to the conclusion that “Abortion is murder”. At best, it leads to the conclusion that “Abortion is and is not murder”, which is not the conclusion that PRO is trying to reach. PRO addresses my own universal statement, yet does not address his own. For PRO’s point to be sound, abortion must be illegal in at least most countries. “Several countries” is not enough. If Wikipedia’s numbers are at all accurate, the countries that PRO mentions are some of the only countries where abortion is entirely illegal. Abortion is legal in 97% of countries in order to save the woman’s life. Abortion is legal in 67% of the world, as of 2011, on at least the grounds of physical health, in 63% of countries on the grounds of mental health, and 49% of countries in cases of rape and incest. Again, all of that is assuming that Wikipedia is accurate on this, but considering PRO uses Wikipedia as well, I don’t see it as a bad move. The fact that abortion is illegal in some countries is not sufficient to establish that it is unlawful. Further, I think it counts as a point in my favor that abortion is legal in most countries. [1]

Weak Analogies

PRO claims that his analogy works to refute my own. PRO either misunderstands my argument from analogy, or seeks to strawman it. One of these is more gracious than the other, but the fact remains that PRO’s analogy couldn’t be weaker. PRO starts after the ingredients have been mixed together, and the “cake” has only to be baked to become a cake. My analogy applies to the beginning, where you know the ingredients have the capacity to become a cake, but the ingredients are not yet a cake. PRO’s analogy is more applicable to the fetus post-24 weeks, which I have conceded as a valid point at which to consider abortion as murder. PRO has not established that fetuses are humans. I have, however, given several reasons to consider fetuses as humans in development. From simple things like lacking the organ systems that all humans have, to the more complex like lacking the neurological functioning required to have awareness. There are other things as well, but I think those are sufficient to at least consider fetuses before 24 weeks to be humans in development.

The Resolution

PRO’s arguments

PRO is defending a universal resolution. That means that he will have to show that ALL abortions AT ALL TIMES are murder. He has failed to do this. PRO claimed that he has establish 4 things. Abortion is:

  1. 1. Deliberate

  2. 2. Unlawful

  3. 3. The cause of the death of a human being.

  4. 4. Premeditated.

I will concede (1) and (4). Those really aren’t up for dispute. However, I have already shown abortion to be legal in most countries. At minimum, 67% of countries permit abortion. In the cases where it will save the mother’s life, 97% of countries permit abortion. As I have noted above and in my other arguments, PRO has not established that fetuses are humans. It’s odd, but I think I have given a better argument for that. I find it reasonable to consider fetuses at the point of viability to be humans. Apparently, the only real difference between a viable fetus and a baby is mainly size. The organ systems are in place, the fetus can feel pain, there are noted indications of awareness of the external world (assuming such a thing exists, of course), and all of these are things that I mentioned allow us to consider a thing a human.

PRO was supposed to argue for a universal resolution. That “Abortion is murder”. Burden of Proof rests with him to establish the truth of that. PRO has made several unwarranted assertions. One of them being that fetuses are humans because they have human DNA. My response to that was that if it is true that DNA establishes life, then all things are alive. That is to say, that are no things that are dead. However, there are some things that are dead, as such, DNA does not establish life. PRO argued further that there are several countries wherein abortion is still illegal. I countered by stating that some countries making abortion illegal is unsufficient to warrant the claim that abortion is unlawful. Abortion is still legal in most countries which provides more support for my statement that abortion is lawful. PRO then attempts to counter my analogy with a much weaker one. While my analogy could have been stronger, PRO’s is essentially that a cake is a cake before we bake it, therefore a fetus is a human before it is born. However, that assumes that the fetus is a human being already. The cake has already been made. The process by which it was made (mixing ingredients) is the more applicable portion of PRO’s analogy. So, PRO’s analogy actually works for me.


This has been an interesting debate. I thank PRO for the chance to discuss. Good luck with voting.


Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by YaHey 3 years ago
Ex: Murder is the illegal act of killing another person, yet abortion is legal. Thus, it cannot be murder.
Posted by YaHey 3 years ago
If you don't want this to be a debate of semantics, then you should probaby give a definition of murder.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Putt-Putt 3 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: Although I am Pro-Choice, the argument for pro was poorly represented. Con used cited sources, and his argument was filled with more non-opinionated facts. Organization also plays a key role in the choice of my decision.