The Instigator
IHateThinkingOfNames
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
III
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Abortion should be illegal in the United States

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
IHateThinkingOfNames
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/19/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 983 times Debate No: 44224
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)

 

IHateThinkingOfNames

Pro

First of all, I'm aware that there are already many debates on this topic, but most of them were either poorly contrived or the debaters just forfeited. I think abortion deserves a real debate, so please don't accept if you don't have the time.

Secondly, my stance does not include circumstances where the woman (and possible the newborn) would likely die as a result of childbirth. There is not sense in risking two lives.

With that said, you may either use the first round for acceptance or you can begin presenting your points.
III

Con

Before beginning the debate, I would like to request clarification for a few things:

1. What is your exact stance on abortion? Are you against abortion for ALL reasons other than that the mother's life is at risk?
2. What definition of "fetus" will you be using? (i.e. At what stage in development is it considered a fetus, do you consider it a fetus at the moment of conception, etc.)
3. Are you against the use of emergency contraception (commonly known as "morning-after pills"?

Thank you. I look forward to your response.
Debate Round No. 1
IHateThinkingOfNames

Pro

Thank you for accepting the challenge. Those are very good questions:

"1. What is your exact stance on abortion? Are you against abortion for ALL reasons other than that the mother's life is at risk?"
Yes, my stance is that an abortion should only be performed in the event that the mother's probability of death is high.

"2. What definition of 'fetus' will you be using? (i.e. At what stage in development is it considered a fetus, do you consider it a fetus at the moment of conception, etc.)"
I'm not too concerned about the definition of "fetus". Technically, it is not a fetus until after eight weeks. My stance is that it does not matter whether it is classified as an zygote, embryo, or a fetus so long as it is a *human* zygote, embryo, or fetus.

"3. Are you against the use of emergency contraception (commonly known as 'morning-after pills'?"
No, because it simply prevents a pregnancy from occurring. I am strictly against the termination of an existing pregnancy.

On to my argument:
Abortion should be illegal in the United States because murder is illegal in the United States.

Murder:
n. the killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent, malice aforethought (prior intention to kill the particular victim or anyone who gets in the way) and with no legal excuse or authority.(1)

At conception, we all acquire the necessary chromosomes to be considered human (generally 46, although there are slight variations to that number). For example, a human could not have 94 chromosomes because he or she would not be a human, but a goldfish. These chromosomes come with specific genes, or instructions, that are innate to humans. So it stands to reason that if you have human chromosomes with human genes, you are a human. Human life begins at conception.

So, looking at the definition of murder, if the zygote (initial cell formed when two gamete cells are joined) has human genes and therefore is a human being, to terminate that life at any stage during development is murder. The mothers who get an abortion and doctors who perform the abortion knowingly terminate the human being ("with intent") and planned it out ("malice aforethought"). As I have mentioned, the only "legal excuse" a mother could have is if her own life is at stake. "I don't want it" is not an excuse.

SOURCES
1. http://dictionary.law.com...
III

Con

"Abortion should be illegal in the United States because murder is illegal in the United States."

According to the legal definition you have used, the killing must be "with no legal excuse or authority" in order for it to be considered murder. Currently, abortion (providing that certain restrictions are met) is legal in the United States. Therefore, legally, it is not murder. However, if abortion were to be made illegal, then it would be considered murder.

Generally speaking, in a human pregnancy, the fetus is not considered "alive" until EEG waves are detectable. The common claim that brain waves can be detected at 40 days from conception was taken out of context. Instead:

"To get scalp or surface potentials from the cortex requires three things: neurons, dendrites, and
axons, with synapses between them. Since these requirements are not present in the human
cortex before 20-24 weeks of gestation, it is not possible to record "brain waves" prior to 20-24
weeks."

Also, it a myth that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. Although it starts developing the biological pathways which are used to feel pain at 20 weeks, there is no evidence that the fetus is capable of actually feeling pain until 24 weeks.

However, as your stance on abortion is that it should be illegal no matter what the stage of fetal development is, the above information is probably beside the point for you.

Since abortion seems to be much more of a moral issue than a technical issue, most, if not all, of my arguments from here on will be based on logic and reasoning rather than cited scientific facts.

In this debate, I will be arguing several special circumstances in which an abortion would be justifiable. Feel free to refute these in advance. I will be discussing them more in depth in the third round.
-Cases in which the fetus was conceived through rape or incest
-Cases in which the mother is grossly underage
-Cases in which contraception methods were used but failed
-Cases in which there is evidence of a physical or cognitive birth defect in the fetus

Also, I should clarify my stance on abortion in order to help avoid unnecessary confusion in Round 3.
Although I personally would not get an abortion unless I were to be raped and it resulted in a pregnancy before I finish my studies, I don't believe anyone should be forced to go through with a pregnancy if she doesn't want to and there is a good reason. I am against partial birth abortions, and I believe that at a certain point when it is too late to abort the fetus, unless a complication develops after that point and the mother's physical health is at risk. Basically, I believe that abortion is too complicated of an issue to ban completely, even with the exceptions made for the mother's health.

SOURCES
http://www.motherjones.com...
http://www.svss-uspda.ch...
Debate Round No. 2
IHateThinkingOfNames

Pro

"Currently, abortion (providing that certain restrictions are met) is legal in the United States."
My argument is that, despite the current legality of abortion, it is still murder because there is no "legal excuse or authority". A legal excuse for murder is self-defense - it is justifiable to kill someone if they are putting your life in danger (likewise, the only legal excuse for abortion is the probable death of the mother as that puts her life in danger). Additionally, abortion has no legal authority. Soldiers have legal authority from their government to kill enemies in order to defend their nation. In both instances (legal excuse and authority) an individual kills to protect themselves or others from harm. Abortion, on the other hand, terminates a human life merely because the mother did not want that human life. The legality of abortion implies that it is okay to kill a human being because you don't want them to be alive. By that logic, one could kill any human being they felt was an "inconvenience" on their existence. Obviously, not wanting a human being to be alive is not an excuse for murder. So just because abortion is legal, doesn't mean it should be, which is what I am arguing.

"Generally speaking, in a human pregnancy, the fetus is not considered 'alive' until EEG waves are detectable."
This is not factual. Life is life, whether it is within the womb or not. A single cell is "alive", meaning it meets the criteria for life (1). Whether or not a being is alive is not contingent upon whether or not its EEG waves are detectable. Obviously one would not be able to detect EEG waves on a single cell, but that does not mean it is not alive. A human zygote is not only composed of living cells, but *human* cells that reproduce and differentiate into *human* tissues, organs, and so on. Therefore it is both human and alive.

" Also, it a myth that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks."
I am not at all concerned about whether or not a fetus can feel pain. That does not make him or her any less of a human. Besides, I do not see how this makes killing the fetus excusable. There is a condition known as congenital analgesia in which the sufferer cannot feel pain (2). If someone were to kill them, would it be justifiable since they do not feel pain?

Before I go on, I think it is important to mention that all humans are entitled to the same human rights, one of which includes life. The definition of human rights is : "rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status." (3) Notice how the definition of human rights does not exclude unborn humans.

Now, to address your special circumstances:
"-Cases in which the fetus was conceived through rape or incest"
While rape is a horrific crime that should be met with a just punishment, I don't see why an unborn human should pay someone else's price. Aborting the unborn will not erase the rape, nor punish the rapist. A rape does not justify the murder of an uninvolved party. Let's look at this in a different context: You're arguing that it is justifiable for a woman to kill a human being (the unborn) because she was raped. What if a woman killed a human being (the rapist) because he raped her? In the second scenario, the woman would still be classified as a murderer and prosecuted even though the human being she killed personally wronged her because it was not in self defense (the rape had already occurred) and she had no legal authority. So if it is illegal for an individual to murder a human who personally wronged them, why is it justifiable to kill an unborn human considering that s/he is innocent of any crime? If the mother does not wish raise or even see the baby (which is completely understandable), adoption is the answer, not murder.

As for incest, while it is troubling to think about what condition could occur as a result of it, it does not justify murder. I know the ensuing argument might be, "They baby could have a disorder or deformity and live a hard life," but that does not make him/her any less human. It is not for anyone else but the unborn individual to decide whether life with a disorder or deformity is worth living or not.

"-Cases in which the mother is grossly underage"
Most grossly underage pregnancies I am aware of occur as a result of rape, for which I have already stated my argument. The age of the mother does not make the unborn any less human, therefore the abortion would be no less a murder, unless, of course, the young mother was unlikely to survive childbirth.

"-Cases in which contraception methods were used but failed"
It should be known by those who engage in sexual intercourse that contraceptives are not 100% effective. No condom or contraceptive pill company reports their products as preventing pregnancy 100% of the time. If two individuals choose to ignore this risk, they should not be able to murder the newly created human being because he/she is inconvenient. An unborn human being can not be held responsible for the failure of contraceptives.

"-Cases in which there is evidence of a physical or cognitive birth defect in the fetus"
This ties in to my argument against abortion in the event of incest. One human being does not get to kill another human being just because they have a defect. My only concession is this: there is no reason to give birth to a stillborn or a baby who will die so shortly after birth that they may as well be a stillborn. Otherwise, what this argument is saying is that it is okay to kill a human being because they have a defect. This would open the door to parents killing their children upon learning they have a disability. If the mother feels she is unable to take on the medical costs of a child with special needs, there are many people all across the U.S. who are willing to take in these children with open arms (as evinced by the establishment of the Adopt America Network which specifically places special needs children in loving homes). Murdering a fetus with a defect need not be an option.

"Although I personally would not get an abortion unless I were to be raped and it resulted in a pregnancy before I finish my studies, I don't believe anyone should be forced to go through with a pregnancy if she doesn't want to and there is a good reason."
So, in essence, what you are saying is that although you would personally never murder a human being, you don't believe someone's "right" to murder an unwanted human being should be restricted. Well, murder is murder, whether you would personally do it or not. Further, the problem with saying "unless there's a good reason" is that people will stretch what a good reason is. A woman may have engaged in unsafe sex, became pregnant, and had an abortion because she "didn't want it", which was a "good reason" to her.

I understand that I come off as extremely unsympathetic to the mother's situation, but it's simply because I acknowledge that the mother's situation is not the only one to be considered. I am acutely aware that it is difficult to carry an unwanted fetus to term, but murder is not excusable just because something is hard. I know that making abortion illegal will not prevent its occurrence - but just because people murder doesn't mean there should't be a law against it. My belief that abortion should be illegal in most cases is not because I don't care about the mother, but because I also care about the newly created human. Murder is murder and the definition should not be tainted by emotional circumstances or flimsy excuses. Human life is human life and its definition should not be forgotten or twisted to justify a morally and (by definition of murder) legally unjustifiable act.

SOURCES
1. http://scienceline.ucsb.edu...
2. http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov...
3. http://www.ohchr.org...
III

Con

"Life is life, whether it is within the womb or not. A single cell is "alive", meaning it meets the criteria for life (1). Whether or not a being is alive is not contingent upon whether or not its EEG waves are detectable. Obviously one would not be able to detect EEG waves on a single cell, but that does not mean it is not alive."
Sorry, I should have clarified. I meant "alive" as in a human being. Although it may be "alive" in that is meets the scientific requirements for life, it is not considered a human being yet. As far as science is concerned, it is literally a clump of cells which has the potential to grow to become a human. Before that point in time, the fetus is not a person. It is only at 24-28 weeks that the fetus begins to be conscious of its own existence. Life is life, but life is not all equal. Most people would agree that an adult human has more of a right to life than a butterfly. Although it would certainly not be right for me to kill the butterfly simply because I "feel like it," if I were faced with the choice of saving another person's life or saving a butterfly's life, I would most likely choose to save the person. Although it is partly because the butterfly has a much shorter life span, the choice would largely be based on the fact that the person is a intelligent, thinking, feeling human. In other words, the person's life would be more "valuable" because it is simply more complex.

Your argument is largely based on the assumption that abortion can be legally classified under murder. That by itself is debatable. Can a zygote even be considered a live "human"? Chromosomes do not determine whether or not something/something is "human." At conception, although we have the necessary instructions to eventually become people, we are not people. Most cells in the human body contain full sets of DNA.

"A human zygote is not only composed of living cells, but *human* cells that reproduce and differentiate into *human* tissues, organs, and so on. Therefore it is both human and alive."
My teeth are not only composed of living cells, but contain *human* cells which have the ability to reproduce and differentiate into *human* tissues. (Stem cells are found in dental pulp) But are my teeth human? No. They are teeth. And if I were to acquire an instruction manual for assembling a bicycle, would that manual alone determine whether or not the thing I am assembling is a bike? No. If I had the instruction manual, but I had only one screw from the potential bike, I could hardly call it a bike. If the bike were completed with all its parts assembled, would I be able to call it a bike? Of course. However, if the frame and wheels were completed with the seat missing, would it still be considered a bike? Possibly. Different people would have different opinions on what would pass as a bike. However, based on its functionality at stages of completion, the majority of people would be able to agree on a set of qualifications it has to meet before it can be considered an actual bike rather than a collection of bike parts.

A human being has the ability to reason, and more importantly, to not only respond to stimuli, but to *feel* the stimuli. If a fetus (up until around 24 weeks) flinches, it is not because it feels pain; it is an instinctual reflex. It is not aware of its own existence. Abortion is not a traumatic experience for the fetus if done by the early second trimester.

"There is a condition known as congenital analgesia in which the sufferer cannot feel pain (2). If someone were to kill them, would it be justifiable since they do not feel pain?"
The unborn are comparable to those with congenital analgesia in that respect only. People with congenital analgesia have emotions and feelings that can have nothing to do with physical pain. And they have formed several emotional connections with the people around them. If one with congenital analgesia were to die, that one person would not be the only victim. All of his/her friends and family would suffer emotionally as well. On the other hand, a fetus is not even self-aware. After an abortion, only the mother, if anyone, would mourn for the the fetus on that personal level.

"The definition of human rights is : "rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status." (3) Notice how the definition of human rights does not exclude unborn humans."
The definition does not explicitly *exclude* any particular group. However, it does not *include* age as a "regardless of" factor. My point is, human rights are neither explicitly extended to nor explicitly kept from the unborn. Also, again, a zygote does not qualify as a human being just for the reasons you listed.

"Yes, my stance is that an abortion should only be performed in the event that the mother's probability of death is high."
As the Con, I understand that my goal is to show that abortion should be legal at least one case other than when the mother's life is at risk.

My mother's family has a history of hard pregnancies. My mother had hyperemesis gravidarum, or severe morning sickness. For her, morning sickness did not stop until well into the second trimester. She threw up often, lost weight, and had to stop going to work. Evidence suggests that hyperemesis gravidarum is hereditary. If I were to get raped today, there is a 1/28 chance that I would get pregnant. If I did get pregnant right now at 14, I would abort the fetus. If abortion were illegal, I would possibly abort the fetus regardless, because if I didn't, chances are, I would get too sick to even go to school. I would have to drop out of school to carry an unwanted fetus for nine months, and possibly only to put the baby up for adoption once it is born. Currently, I have a fairly bright future. However, if I got pregnant right now and had to carry the fetus for nine months, my life would literally be ruined. A baby is not a gift for everyone.

Yes, I am aware that rape accounts for only around 1% of abortions, but it does happen, and keep in mind that my goal is to simply find at least one instance in which the mother should not be forced to carry the fetus to full term.

Also, would it really be practical to make abortion illegal? Although making it illegal would reduce the number of abortions people have, people would still get abortions. What would the punishment be? A fine? Women with family incomes below the federal poverty level ($18,530 for a family of three) account for more than 40% of all abortions. Jail time? Six in 10 American women having an abortion already have a child. What would sending the woman to jail do for her children?

"Murder is murder and the definition should not be tainted by emotional circumstances or flimsy excuses. "
That is an interesting take on the issue, but I think that, definitions aside, what we actually need is more empathy from all sides, and not just for this issue, either. This is an ethical issue that cannot be solved completely without emotions.

Abortion is too complicated of an issue to throw a blanket statement over all of the cases. Most women who end up getting an abortion have multiple reasons. The very fact that there are intelligent people with intelligent and justified opinions on all sides of the issue (notice how I said "all", not "both") shows that abortion should neither be made completely illegal nor kept exactly as it is.

SOURCES
http://discovermagazine.com...
http://www.scientificamerican.com...
http://kidshealth.org...#
http://www.johnstonsarchive.net...
http://www.guttmacher.org...

Thank you for a great first debate
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by dannyc 2 years ago
dannyc
I would love to do this debate with you, I just finished up one on Infanticide.
Posted by IHateThinkingOfNames 2 years ago
IHateThinkingOfNames
Those are great points, III. I know the debate is over but I thinks you made some points that deserve a response. For your tooth analogy, the difference is that if you put a tooth in a sustained environment and give it the proper nutrients, it will not develop into a human baby. If you put a human fetus in a sustained environment and give it the proper nutrients, it will develop into human baby. The same is true for the baby, it needs a sustained environment and nutrients to develop into a child. Zygote, embryo, and fetus are stages in human development just like infant, child, and adolescent.

Also, I personally think that the punishment for abortion should be a 2nd degree murder charge for the abortion doctor as well as stripping his or her licence. For the mother, it must be dealt with on a case by case basis. Most likely, the mother is a broken or desperate individuals who would benefit from counseling and mandatory community service. If they refused, then they would have to pay a steep fine or face jail time. But that's just what I think is a fair punishment.
Posted by Oshamoshamesha_Jones 2 years ago
Oshamoshamesha_Jones
I agree with Pro.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
whiteflame
IHateThinkingOfNamesIIITied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro simply makes the stronger arguments within the context of the round. While Con brought up several good points, I don't see enough argumentation here to tack back what Pro is saying, which is that every abortion ends in a death, whereas making abortion illegal in all instances but health only prevents death. Con simply let that line of argumentation slide too long. Some of the good arguments come up in Con's last speech, but too late to be engaged in on a deeper level. I'd say there's a lot of uncertainty on Pro's side that could be addressed. He says only when there's a very high likelihood that the mother will die should abortion be allowed. How high? And what about permanent injury to the mother that prevents future pregnancies? Don't those lives matter too? What about IVF? Wouldn't that also be considered murder, and if so, why doesn't the potential life of the implanted infant matter? There's a lot to be addressed here, but Pro just did a better job.