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

Abortion should be illegal

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/2/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,385 times Debate No: 78333
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (18)
Votes (1)




I'm doing another abortion debate, this time with some more refined and clearer arguments.

Full resolution

'Induced abortion should be illegal in the United States of America (or a similar Western state) in all cases except from cases where it is performed in order to save the life of the mother from death or serious physical injury'

I will be PRO on this issue, whereas my opponent will be CON. The burden of proof will be shared, with myself having to provide sufficient reason for the US to prohibit abortion and my opponent also having to provide sufficient reason for the US to permit abortion.


Abortion: 'Induced termination of a pregnancy with destruction of the embryo or fetus' (1)

Illegal: 'Prohibited by law.' (2)


1. No trolling
2. No kritiks (e.g anarchism)
3. No ad hominem (personal) attacks
4. No new arguments may be made in Con's round 4


R1: Acceptance
R2: Opening arguments
R3: Rebuttals
R4: Final rebuttals and closing remarks.



oopserino good luck to all
Debate Round No. 1



I will make two arguments arguing for the illegality of abortion, both are quite similar, but cumulatively they amount to a solid proof of why abortion should be banned.

Argument 1 - rights

P1: A foetus is an innocent human being
P2: All innocent human beings have a right to life
C1: A foetus has a right to life
P3: Abortion contravenes the foetus's right to life
P4: That which contravenes a human being's rights should be prohibited by the Government
C2: Abortion should be prohibited by the Government.

This argument is logically valid, so the conclusions are true insofar as the premises are shown to be true. Therefore my job is to verify the truth of all the premises.

P1 - a foetus is an innocent human being

Firstly, a foetus is innocent because it hasn't committed any felony or immoral act.

Secondly, a foetus is a human being. We can tell this by examining the definition of 'human being':

'Any individual of the genus Homo' (1)

It is a biological fact that a foetus is part of the genus Homo, because it is an organism with Homo Sapiens DNA.

To justify that it is indeed an organism, let's look at the definition:

'any living biological entity' (2)

A foetus is a biological entity because it an organic entity composed of cells, and it is living because it experiences growth and metabolism, which is what categorises life.(3) Furthermore, biologist Matthew Marcello wrote that immediately after fertilisation, the resulting entity is an organism. (4)

Therefore, a foetus is an organism of the genus Homo - a human being.

This conclusion is also supported by countless medical and biological sources - the following are just a couple of examples:

'The life cycle of mammals begins when a sperm enters an egg.' (5)

Human life begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoo developmentn) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual. A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e. an embryo).’ (6)

Therefore, the premise that a foetus is a human being is verified by both considerations of the definitions as well as scientific resources.

P2 - all innocent human beings have a right to life

From a legal basis, the right to life is established both in the US constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Within the constitution, it is stated in the 5th and 14th amendments, respectively:

‘Nor shall any person… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law’ (7)

‘Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law’ (8)

Both of these affirm that all persons have a right to life that can be only be infringed by due process of law. Since Constitutional Law uses the legal definition of ‘person’, which is simply:

‘Human being’ (9)

- all human beings are persons. Therefore I am justified in using the terms ‘person’ and ‘human being’ synonymously when considering matters of US law.

The due process clause outlines that one's right to life can only be infringed by a fair trial and conviction that warrants the death penalty. Since an innocent human being cannot be fairly convicted of any crime (by definition), it follows that all innocent human beings have a right to life.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights echoes this, by stating in article 3:

'Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.' (10)

Note that a right to life is a negative right; a right to life means you have a right to not be killed. This fact may prove crucial later on in this debate.

C1 - A foetus has a right to life

This logically follows from P1 and P2.

P3 - Abortion contravenes the foetus's right to life

Given that a foetus does have a right to life (C1), abortion contravenes it because the abortion procedure is an active procedure that kills the foetus. This premise is uncontroversial, even the most ardent pro-choicer accepts that abortion kills a foetus.

P4 - That which contravenes a human being's rights should be prohibited by the Government

This premise is verified by what the role of the government is. In the US Declaration of independence it is written:

'That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men' (11)

This makes it pretty clear that the Government's role is to protect peoples' rights, and so it stands to reason that if an action infringes on someone's rights, the Government should prohibit said action in order to fulfil its duty of securing rights.

Therefore, the government should prohibit actions that contravene peoples' rights.

C2 - Abortion should be prohibited by the Government.

This logically follows from C1, P3 and P4.

Since I have affirmed all the premises, the conclusion that abortion should be prohibited (illegal) is affirmed. Hence I have fulfilled my burden of proof.

Argument 2 - Non-Aggression Principle (NAP)

P1: The NAP is true
P2: Abortion contravenes the NAP
P3: Any action that contravenes the NAP should be prohibited by the Government.
C: Abortion should be prohibited by the Government

P1 - The NAP is true

The NAP is an axiom within political philosophy that forbids any initiation of aggression by one person to another. Aggression is defined as an encroachment on another's life, liberty or justly-acquired property (12).

This principle is so fundamental that I can safely presume that both my opponent and the voters accept it as a truism. There are a few justifications for its veracity, including utilitarian and argumentation arguments, but I will justify it here by considering why such a principle is necessary in any civilised society.

It is often very useful, if we want to find out what is necessary for a functioning society, to consider what life would be like without any governing authority, laws or moral rules. Human existence in this scenario would be in a 'state of nature' where any physically-possible action is permitted and allowed to happen without repercussion for the perpetrator.

In the state of nature, non-aggressive acts such as playing music or writing stories will be permitted; but then again, aggressive acts such as rape, theft and murder will also be permitted.

In an effort to curb the suffering caused by the various aggressions such as murder, governments are introduced with the power to punish the citizens within society.

Now the government has three options:

1. Punish all actions
2. Punish some actions
3. Punish no actions

Number 1 is absurd, since it would mean that people are punished for completely non-aggressive actions such as sewing or flower-arranging.

Number 3 is useless as well, as then the Government may as well not exist if it isn't going to control society. We revert back to the state of nature with the Government standing idly by.

Therefore, number 2 must be correct; the government should punish some acts but not punish others. This raises the question of what criteria separates the punishable acts and the non-punishable acts. The best criteria is whether the action is an aggression, this is because no other criteria can be thought of that makes a more pragmatic and utilitarian assessment of which actions should be punishable. It also very accurately forbids acts that contravene human rights but allows acts that do not.

This criteria, formulated as the NAP, is necessary in a civilised society in order to veridically decide which
actions are prohibited. Ergo, the NAP is true insofar as we live in a civilised society.

P2 - Abortion contravenes the NAP

Abortion is an initiation of aggression against a foetus (it kills it), and is therefore clearly forbidden by the NAP.

P3 - Any action that contravenes the NAP should be prohibited by the Government.

The justification for this premise is located in my justification for P1. The NAP decides what is a punishable/illegal act by the government, so it is necessary that the government sticks to this criteria and therefore prohibits acts that contravene the NAP.

C - Abortion should be prohibited by the Government

Logically follows from P1, P2 and P3.

This second argument also affirms the resolution that abortion should be illegal.


I have presented two solid arguments that affirm the veracity of the statement 'abortion should be illegal'. Since these arguments are all logically sound, Con must successfully refute at least one of the premises in both arguments in order to negate the resolution. If at least one of my arguments goes unrefuted, I win the debate.


(6) Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology



This is a policy. It is also a legal debate. Hence, we may distinguish this debate from a moral debate (i.e. abortion is immoral), for laws are not “ought to be(s)” which characterizes morality, but are more of “side-restraints.” Also, as this is a legal debate, we should elaborate on what a "justified law" is. A justified law (a.) punishes the subject on sufficient grounds, (b.) preventsfurther behaviour of the type, and (c.) creates a better society. Often, when (b.) and (c.) are not satisfied, the subject laws are often scrapped. Adultery should be raised up as an example: even though it has adverse effects, men will always be the greatest Freudians.

The Proposition has failed to provide a complete policy. The policy Con presents:

1.) That the abortion shall happen in the first trimester of the pregnancy (Trimester Policy)
2.) That the abortion shall happen in a safe environment (Environment Policy)
3.) That the abortion shall be consented and not coerced (Consent Policy)

The policy of Proposition is that abortion should be illegal on all instances except when a women's life is threatened or serious injury is certain. Hence, his BoP is to show that a policy containing those elements would be a justified law. The opposition's BoP, on the other hand, is to prove that the opposition's policy (the status quo) would be much more beneficial than the proposition's.


1.Health and Socio-Economic Problems

In this argument, I will attempt to demonstrate the pro-life legislations have adverse effects on individuals and society that can only be solved via pro-choice legislations.

When a pregnancy is questioned but legal restrictions are in place, an unsafe abortion (a procedure for terminating a pregnancy either by individuals without the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimum medical standards or both) is most likely to follow. The WHO reports that “[because of unsafe abortions] 68,000 women die as a result, and millions more have complications, many permanent.” This alone amounts to nothing. However, “[in countries where abortion is legally restricted,] the median ratio for unsafe abortion mortality is 34 deaths per 100,000 live births.” [2] This seems to be caused via the strict abortion legalization in countries. The Guttmacher Institute reports that “highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates…abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America—regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries.” (more on this later) [3] On the other hand, after the South African government approved the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act in 1996, it was soon shown that all abortion related deaths because of child-bearing was reduced to practically nil. [4] South Africa is not alone. In Romania, abortion was deemed illegal in 1966 by the ruling “Communist” elite. In 23 years, the deaths via abortion-related complications rose seven-fold. Before the laws, there were 20 deaths per 100,000 live births because of abortion. In 1989, when the Communist elites fell, this number rose to 148 per 100,000. [5] There are three overlying conclusions that must henceforth be made from these facts. The first one is that abortion criminalization will not stop abortions (1)-it will simply drive them underground. This causes a rise in unsafe abortions (2), which could have many implications on the women and society. These two problems arise only because abortion is illegal-and this dilemma can only be solved by the decriminalization of abortion (3), which allows for clinics to work under legal standards and restraints.

Apart from health-effects of unsafe abortions, socio-economic effects of abortion can also affect society as a whole. In a country where abortion is criminalized, huge amounts of unwanted children may be conceived. These children are called “denied abortions.” These children experience huge challenges. A study done in Finland has shown that these denied abortions usually have a significantly higher frequency of infant mortality (24 deaths per 1000 as compared to normal country rates of 2 per 1000). [6] DA (Denied Abortion) Children who do actually live pass the age of one are then faced with other problems. In a follow up of the famed “Prague Study,” it was found that DA adults had a significantly higher amount of psychiatric problems. [7] The effects are as bad on the children as on the parents. 6% of parents who were refused abortions were more likely to suffer from physical intimate partner violence (PIPV) as apart from the 3% recorded than the control parents. [8] In more socio-economic terms, DA has led to changes in the composition of the society. We should recall the case of Romania. It was noted by Prof. Cristian Pop-Eleches that after the 1966 Abortion ban came into place, DA children had “lower educational and labor market achievements as adults.” In his study, DA children, when put in comparison with a control group, were 1.7% less likely to finish High-School. The probability of DA individuals to work in high-skill jobs also decreased by 0.7%, which leads us to the unsettling conclusion that the abortion bans can affect the GDP of the country. (Prof. Eleches notes that “The effect is potentially greater since the census data records employment patterns very early in the career of the people I study, when there is less variability in outcomes across individuals.”) [9] In the United States, however, after the famed Roe v. Wade case, it was soon shown that the number of orphan adoptions decreased by 30%, signifying that the number of orphans (unwanted children) decreased. [10] This leads us to three conclusions. The first is that denied abortions can lead to a significant increase in infant mortality (1). The families of the DA children then have to face with huge familial and individual problems (2). This leads to society-wide impacts in education and workforce composition which can only be solved with pro-choice legislations (3).

2. Anti-Abortion Laws and Decision-Making

In this argument, I shall show that anti-abortion laws are useless and do not serve in anyway to prevent abortion as the basic choice-making processes are often irrational.

The number one aim of anti-abortion law is to prevent abortions from happening and to punish those who undergo such operations. The logic in this is that if abortion laws are necessarily Draconian enough, they will serve to prevent women from getting abortions (even if they are pregnant). However, this logic is inherently flawed. This logic is rational in outlook (people often deliberate the consequences of an action via balancing the utility of one outcome against another), but the Rational Choice Theory (RCT) has never been sufficiently satisfactory for many criminologists and neurologists. Some scientists have called the RCT unscientific, as it is always verifiable, but not always falsifiable. As Geoffrey M. Hodgson explains, “because utility is unobservable, all kinds of behaviour can be ‘explained’ in terms of the idea, without fear of refutation.” [11] Apart from this, the RCT does not commonly take into account factors such as psychosocial development and emotions that are often attached to the object. For example, research has noted that a patient who had significant brain damage “[that although] standard tests of intelligence and memory failed to detect any significant changes, [the patient’s] everyday behaviour was highly irrational.” [12] Moreover, the RCT experiments assume that we have perfect and conscious free-will. However, as the famous Libet studies found out, the readiness potential of an action often comes 550 m.sec before the conscious decision to actually do the action. [13] These arguments often lead to one conclusion: that even if abortion laws are Draconian, or emplaced, abortion cannot be prevented. This claim is consistent with reality. In source [3], I quoted the Guttmacher Institute on the high amounts of abortion in legally restrictive regions. Uganda should be taken as an example. Uganda has one of the highest abortion rates in the world (54 per 1000 women), yet it has Draconian laws against abortion. [14] This seems to be a regional trend. A graph made by Dr. Gilda Sedgh, who statistically analyzed the abortion statistics, were able to come up with the following graph:

Concluding with the fact that “abortion rate is lower in subregions where more women live under liberal abortion laws,” [15] Dr. Gilda’s opinion corresponds with that of the WHO: that Draconian abortion laws do not prevent abortion.


From these two empirically supported arguments, we are ultimately led to the mere fact that abortion should be legal-as it prevents health risks, creates a better socio-economic condition for the citizens of the country, and pro-life legislations would be useless as they simply do not deter women from getting an abortion. The resolution is NEGATED!


Debate Round No. 2


I thank Con for his well-thought out opening arguments, I will now refute them.

Argument 1 - Problems with illegal abortions

This is one of the most common arguments for the legalisation of abortion - that doing so would reduce maternal deaths from abortion. Before I start, I would like to express deep scepticism of Con's use of the Guttmacher Institute as a source - the Guttmacher Institute is heavily pro-abortion and therefore has little credibility as an unbiased source.

Firstly, Con writes that in countries that have restrictive abortion laws, there is a relatively high abortion-mortality rate. I accept this, but I dispute that this is a causal relationship. The relatively high abortion-mortality rate is most likely not because of restrictive abortion laws.The first bit of evidence for this contention is that the legality of abortion has little effect on its safety. The abortion mortality rate before Roe vs Wade was decreasing rapidly and the Supreme Court Decision did not change this trend at all (1). What this graph does show is that the main decrease in abortion mortality was down to the introduction of penicillin as well as other medical advancements.

This observation explains the correlation noted between pro-life countries and abortion death rates; because it is generally poor and undeveloped countries such as African, Middle Eastern and South American countries that restrict abortion (2), the explanation for the high abortion mortality rate is simply that these countries lack the necessary medical advancements to ensure safe abortions. In conclusion, the correlation between high-abortion death rates and pro-life countries is not due to the legality of abortion in that country, but rather due of the state of medical development. Hence in this case, the correlation does not equal causation.

Next, Con brings up the case of South Africa. The problem with this case study is that, whilst abortion legalisation may have reducedabortion-related deaths, the move to legalise abortion and provide abortion services was most likely done at the expense of satisfactory healthcare for non-aborting mothers. The evidence for this conjecture is that in the past 20 years (which was the era in which abortion became legal) maternal death-rates have quadrupled (3).

So what do we take from this? If we take the South African model in order to prove that legalising abortion decreases deaths from abortions, we also have to accept that maternal mortality will increase for those who choose not to abort. Considering that most women choose not to have an abortion (for a given pregnancy)(4), we can reason that the non-aborting mothers' health should be prioritised (on a policy level) because they are the larger group. Since banning abortion correlates to a decrease in maternal mortality, it follows that abortion should be banned.
The perceived benefit of helping aborting-mothers is outweighed by the increased risk for non-aborting mothers, since the latter is a much larger group.

On the whole, Con's central claim is that prohibiting abortion will cause more maternal deaths. Yet the evidence suggests that legalisation of abortion has no positive affect on maternal mortality. A Chilean study by Elard Koch found that:

'During the 50-year study period, the MMR decreased from 293.7 to 18.2/100,000 live births, a decrease of 93.8%. Women's education level modulated the effects of TFR, birth order, delivery by skilled attendants, clean water, and sanitary sewer access. In the fully adjusted model, for every additional year of maternal education there was a corresponding decrease in the MMR of 29.3/100,000 live births. A rapid phase of decline between 1965 and 1981 (W22;13.29/100,000 live births each year) and a slow phase between 1981 and 2007 (W22;1.59/100,000 live births each year) were identified. After abortion was prohibited, the MMR decreased from 41.3 to 12.7 per 100,000 live births (W22;69.2%). The slope of the MMR did not appear to be altered by the change in abortion law.' (emphasis mine)(5)

In other words, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) in Chile was decreasing rapidly prior to the prohibition of abortion, most likely due to medical developments, and that the banning of abortion did not revert this trend, in fact it made no difference whatsoever. The conclusion of this study, then, is that legalisation of abortion does not improve maternal mortality.

Why use the example of Chile? One may ask. Why is this data more valuable than that of other countries such as South Africa or Romania? Well, the reason that this study most pertains to this debate is because it observes the effect of banning abortion after a long period of abortion being legal. This is more relevant than data from countries legalising abortion for the first time, because this debate is whether abortion should be prohibited in the USA, which has already had a long period of liberal abortion laws.

Therefore, abortion prohibition will most likely not cause more maternal deaths.

Another problem with this argument is that it begs the question; it assumes the shaky premise that abortion isn't a rights-violating act. But if it is a rights-violating act, as I have proved in R2, then it is very dubious to assert that it should be legalised to protect the perpetrators of the act. For example, it is absurd to say that we should legalise theft in order to provide safe conditions for thieves.

The next point made by Con is that restricting abortion does not reduce abortion rates. His only source is from Guttmacher Institute, which is very biased towards legal abortion.

Given this, I will present multiple pieces of evidence that disprove this claim.

1. Poland heavily restricted abortion in in 1993, and consequently saw a drop from around 130,000 abortions per year in the mid-1980s to around 160 per year in 1999-2004. (6)

2. Restricting abortion would deter most women from having one (7). This is pretty evident, as it is patently obvious that if said activity is illegal, it will discourage at least some people from doing said activity.

3. In the US, a study concluded that the number of abortions decreased by 22.22% from 1990 to 2005, and wrote that 'one factor that played a role was the increased amount of anti-abortion legislation that was passed at the state level.' (8)

Therefore, the claim that prohibiting abortion won't reduce the abortion rate is also refuted.

Argument 2 - Social effects

Con makes lots of claims here, including the claim that 'denied abortions' face multiple challenges in life. However, it is a non-sequitur to conclude that abortion should be legal. Con's logic forms the following argument:

P1: People who aren't aborted (because of pro-life laws) go on to have some problems in later life
P2: ???
C: Abortion should be legal.

For this argument to be logically valid, P2 would have to be something along the lines of:

'If a person will have some problems in later life, it is better that they were killed early on in their lives'.

Con would struggle to justify this premise. Moreover, it has absurd conclusions. Studies show that people growing up in orphanages are more likely to have problems in later life, but surely this does not justify walking into orphanages and delivering painless lethal injections to all the orphans?

Furthermore, this argument for abortion also justifies infanticide. Since the aim is to prevent problem-stricken persons from growing up into society, it does not matter whether they are killed before birth or after birth. It contradicts Con's 'trimester policy' as well - there is no reason why the killing should be done in the first trimester or the third, if we accept Con's perceived reasons for allowing abortion.

Secondly, Con cites a study that shows that people who are denied abortions are more likely to suffer PIPV. But allowing abortion doesn't solve the problem here; the problem is domestic violence, a problem that won't be solved by allowing abortion. The need is to punish abusive partners, not propagate violence onto innocent foetuses.

Con's logic also justifies genocide; since he allows the killing of an entire class of human beings (unwanted children) in order to improve society. To use a reductio ad absurdum, black people are more likely to commit crime, but it does not follow that we should wipe out the black race in order to improve society by reducing crime.

Therefore, Con's argument here is fallacious, leads to absurd conclusions, and doesn't limit the killing to abortion - it also allows infanticide.

Argument 3 - Pro-life laws and frequency of abortion

This argument is mainly an expansion of Con's point in argument 1 that 'restricting abortion does not reduce abortion rates'.

In my rebuttal to this point in argument 1, I presented a lot of evidence to refute this assertion. But since Con presents a new study here that displays a graph showing that 'abortion rates are lower in countries with liberal abortion laws'.

However, it is clear from just glancing at the graph that there is another overlying factor at play here. The countries with the highest abortion rates are very poor regions such as Africa, south-east Asia, Central and Southern America, whereas the lowest rates of abortion are in rich regions such as North America, Europe, South Africa and Oceania. Here, we see a very clear correlation between low abortion rates and the prosperity of a given country; since abortion is often sought out of financial concerns, it follows that poor people are more likely to seek an abortion.

Therefore, I contend that the reason that pro-choice countries generally have lower abortion rates than pro-life countries isn't because of their legal stance on abortion, but rather because generally pro-choice countries are richer than pro-life countries.


(7) Reardon, David - Aborted Women: Silent No More



a.) Argument from Rights

Pro basically argues here that the interpretation of "person" in the US Constitution should and could be expanded to "fetuses" and pre-natal structures, as that is in the definition it presents. However, this interpretation is often challenged by two things: (a.) the fact that a woman's right to privacy has always been more fundamental and (b.) there is indeed other instances of the word in the US Constitution whcih suggests that the word ought to be implied post-natally.

Pro argues (a.) that this "right to life" is provided by the 5th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution. The opposition does not cite any Supreme Court evidence to support this pre-natal interpretation. This interpretation would also lead to large clashes against Supreme Court decided cases. In Union Pacific Railway Co. v. Botsford, the Supreme Court ruled that the right to privacy had to be respected after Union Pacific Railway demanded to surgically analyze a women who was injured in their train threatened to sue them for negligence. The Supreme Court argued that “To compel anyone, and especially a woman, to lay bare the body, or to submit it to the touch of a stranger, without lawful authority, is an indignity, an assault, and a trespass.” [1] This logic, that a woman's right to personal privacy is strictly her's, is protected in numerous cases in the Constitution. The implied privacy of the First Amendment led the Supreme Court to overturn a conviction of a man who was arrested because of possession of "obscene" material for private usage. The Supreme Court ruled that fundamental is the right to be free, except in very limited circumstances, from unwanted governmental intrusions into one's privacy.” [2] The Fourteenth Amendment also protects the right to abortion. In Meyer vs. Nebraska, the Supreme Court ruled that the teaching of foreign languages cannot be banned as "it denotes...right of the individual to contract, to engage in any of the common occupations of life, to acquire useful knowledge, to marry, establish a home and bring up children, to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and generally to enjoy those privileges long recognized at common law as essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men." [3] The logic here is simple: that the Constitution had long held the right to privacy, especially of the body. This is affirmed in the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment, which accords large privacy rights to the body and what is done with it.

Pro argues that (b.) the interpretation of "person" in the Constitution belongs merely to both pre and post natal conditions. However, when the word "Person" appears in the Constitution, it is always defined in post-natal manners. The Supreme Court during Roe v. Wade ruled that "in nearly all these instances, the use of the [person] is such that it has application only postnatally." [4] An example of this would be Art. I, 9, cl. 8, which states that "no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State." This clearly has post-natal implications, since rarely has a fetus been an office of profit. In Section. 1 of the 14th Amendment, we are told that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside." Although this does not amount to much, the "born and naturalized" part are crucial: fetuses are unborn and henceforth not citizens of the US pre-natally. [5] Hence, we can conclude that, insofar as abortion is concerned, the Constitution very well protects those rights as well as leaves the rights of the fetuses unrecognized. (Apart from this, this argument contradicts the strict policies (life threat and physical injury) of the opposition, since these rights should apply to fetuses not directly life threatening or physically injuring)

b.) Argument from the N.A.P

Pro goes into the abstract here. The N.A.P, accordingly to Pro, "is an axiom within political philosophy" in which "any initiation of aggression by one person to another." In this argument, he goes from this principle to a very general and practical policy. His claims however are based on the claim that the government should in reality be based on this principle. This must be doubted.

As for the first claim, that (a.) the government should in reality be based on this principle, we are met with many classical political philosophy claims. One is that the NAP is often called upon during policy making. This is a gap taken from reality. Often, governments are created not from a contract with the people, but from violent revolutions or peaceful demonstrations. Very rarely do deliberations create society and government. Many times, they are spontaneous: for example, the American Revolution would not have happened if Britain had not demand an increase in tax. The Russian Revolution would barely have been possible without the First World War. Since they are spontaneous, there is often, in many society, no deliberation: society's creation is spontaneous and improvised, rather than deliberate and principled. What we should henceforth conclude here is that no government bases its policies on a principle such as the NAP, but on rather realistic motivators as society is spontaneous and improvised.


a.) Unsafe Abortions

The opposition here starts off with arguing from authority: since Guttmacher cannot be relied on to provide credible sources, then it should be discarded. But what was really indeed wrong with the data itself remains to be debated. I will continue to use Guttmacher for the opposition has yet proven to us all that Guttmacher is unreliable.

The opposition says that "before Roe v. Wade was decreasing rapidly and the Supreme Court Decision did not change this trend at all." However, the graph he cites cites the death of women who died from illegal abortions. The decline coincided with the start of penicillin usage, which leads us to a conclusion-that this graph does not show that the frequency of abortion had reduced, but rather shows that abortion became safer during the period immediately before Roe v. Wade. [6] Moreover, the opposition says that, as was the case of Chile, abortion did not effect the MMR of the country. The opposition argues that this was better than the Romanian example because "it observes the effect of banning abortion after a long period of abortion being legal." However, it would be perhaps useful to say that Chile indeed had Draconian and highly restrictive laws prior to the complete abortion ban. As the Guttmacher Advisory notes, "Before 1989, abortion was legal in Chile only to save a woman’s life." Apart from this, the evidence base was way too narrow, as " In Chile, women who suffer complications after undergoing unsafe abortions are highly unlikely to admit to these actions given possible criminal sanctions." [7] Moreover, if the opposition were to use the "long period of abortion being legal" test, then Romanian example would hold up, for the fact that abortion was legal in Romania for 9 years before the 1967 ban.

The opposition also uses Poland as an example that breaks the unsafe abortion trends. However, there have been many cases of "women individually going to clinics in Russia (Kaliningrad), Lithuania or Belarus...[whose only limitations is] increasing abortion prices for Polish women." [8] The opposition also says that "restricting abortion would deter most women from having one." This may be evident, but as said in R1, this bases itself on the rational choice theory (RCT), which has been shown to be incredibly false, for even though the pros and cons of a decision is often analyzed, criminals often have emotional connections or underestimate the laws, which would lead them nevertheless to obtain one. This is evident in similar debates in the issue of drugs and the death penalty (no matter how Draconian the laws, they will still get high)

b.) Socio-economic Effects

In this objection, the opposition makes many claims. The most absurd claims he makes are that this logic justies genocide and infanticide. Whatever they are, they must be dismissed as "faulty comparisons," a fallacy which compares things to others to make them less desirable. [9] Pro claim that this argument contradicts my "trimester policy." However, 92% of abortions are done before the last trimester-often people do not wait long to get rid of a definite undesired fetus. [13]

c.) Use of Abortion Laws

Here is where the absurdities end and the sense starts again. Con argues that abortion is high in countries presented merely because of a lack of law in those areas. This is true to a point. But it also ignores the fact that after Roe v. Wade, abortion rates in the US (a developed country) fell to its lowest since 1973 just recently in 2011. [10] There is also evidence that this is part of a general "U-turn" trend from Roe v. Wade, as this decrease has gone on for twenty years. [11]

Apart from this, in Asia, where the population lives mostly under liberal abortion laws but in developing society, the abortion rate is almost twice as lower as that in Africa, where the population lives under restrictive abortion laws and developing society (24 v. 13 per 1000) [12] This ultimately leads to the conclusion that even in developing countries where abortion laws are liberal, the abortion rate is lower than developing restrictive abortion countries.


Debate Round No. 3




Here, Con makes two claims. Firstly, that a woman has a right to privacy and secondly, that the constitutional definition of 'person' only applies to post-natal human beings.

The first claim is one I accept - a woman does indeed have a right to privacy. However, Con has neglected to argue that the right to privacy supersedes the right to life.

Since a constitutional right to privacy is only implied by the constitution (1), whereas the right to life is explicitly mentioned not once but twice within the constitution, it stands to reason that the right to life is more fundamental than the right to privacy.

Furthermore, a right to privacy does not extend to a right to harm others within the extent of that privacy. For example, I cannot kill someone in the privacy of my own kitchen and then justify it by appealing to a right to privacy.

The second claim is that the constitutional definition of 'person' only applies to post-natal human beings. To justify this, Con states that mentions of ‘person’ in the constitution are ‘always defined in post-natal manners’. However, this is a poor justification, since it can easily be explained that the vast majority of human beings have already been born, so it makes perfect sense that most references to persons within the constitution will be references to born humans. This does nothing to reach the conclusion that the constitution takes ‘person’ to mean ‘post-natal human’.
Reductio ad absurdum, most references to persons within the constitution are for post-pubescent humans, but surely it does not follow that only post-pubescent humans are constitutional persons?

Con cites the 14th amendment to support his claim that only born humans are citizens of the United States, yet this commits the fallacy of ‘affirming the consequent’ (2). The 14th amendment states that ‘all persons born…are citizens of the United States’, but it is a fallacy to conclude that all citizens are born persons. Let me demonstrate the fallacy:

Given that ‘All ravens are black animals’

It does not follow that all black animals are ravens.

The logic is simply invalid, and therefore so is Con’s argument.

Furthermore, the 14th amendment is an 18th century text, written in a time where virtually nothing was known of foetal development - the first thing people saw of a person was when they were born. When the 14th amendment was written, the fact that they refer to birth at all is simply a way to elucidate that citizenship isn’t something gained during your life - you have it just by living in the US. It is absurd to suggest that the founding fathers wrote the amendment in such a way as to distinguish between foetuses and babies, especially given their limited embryological knowledge.

As a penultimate point, birth is completely arbitrary for establishing personhood and citizenship. The passage of a human being through the birth canal does not magically grant personhood, citizenship and all the associated perks, because there is no essential difference between a foetus 10 minutes before birth and a baby 10 minutes after birth.

Finally, there is already a precedent for foetal personhood/citizenship within US law. The ‘Unborn Victims of Violence Act’ 2004 established a foetus as a legal victim (3), which heavily implies both personhood and citizenship to foetuses.

Therefore, there is nothing within the constitution that denies that a foetus is a person. If anything, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act explicitly implies that they are persons.


Con doesn’t refute much of the argument here, all he disputes is that governments don’t follow the NAP in reality. However, this debate is about what should be the case, not what is the case. Therefore, commenting that governments do not follow the NAP is totally irrelevant to whether they should follow the NAP, which is what I demonstrated in R2.

Central to Con’s point is the claim that governments arise spontaneously and not out of negotiation. However, he misunderstands the argument because the ‘state of nature’ is hypothetical - there is no recorded case of human existence sans some form of government. What the state of nature is is a thought experiment with which one can examine the proper role of government. As I pointed out, the government must ensure a stable and healthy society by prohibiting some actions and permitting others. Of course, this raises the question of what criterion should be used to decide which actions to prohibit. I maintain that the NAP is the most utilitarian criterion and the one that ensures that human rights are protected.

Therefore, even if the NAP isn’t followed in reality, the NAP is what should be followed. Hence this pertains to the resolution of whether abortion should be legal.


Unsafe Abortions

This sub-debate is essentially just a war of statistics, with Pro giving statistics of how illegal abortion supposedly endangers women whilst I give statistics that either refutes this claim or shows the opposite, that maternal mortality actually increases under legalised abortion.

Con writes that ‘abortion became safer during the period immediately before Roe v. Wade’, but that is my point exactly! In the run up to Roe, abortion mortality decreased rapidly due to medical advances but the actual Supreme Court decision did not even effect this decrease. If Con’s argument is correct and legalising abortion does make it safer, then we would see this decrease accelerate. But we don’t; there is no change.
This observation implies that, contrary to Con’s arguments, abortion mortality is affected by medical advances and not by legislative measures. Therefore, Con cannot claim that abortion should be legal on the grounds that doing so would reduce abortion mortality, because the evidence from the USA (the country in question for this debate) does not show that legalising abortion will have any effect.

Myself and Con could continue this debate arguing over the respective validity of the Romanian and Chilean case studies, which both contradict each other, but it is more relevant to discuss countries that are similar in culture and economy to the USA, as this debate is about the USA.
South Africa, on the other hand, is fairly similar economically and culturally to the USA, and so it would be relevant to observe the effect of abortion legalisation. Therefore, I would contend that abortion legalisation has coincided with an increase of the maternal mortality rate fourfold, which certainly harms Con’s case for legalising abortion on the grounds that it makes it safer for women.

Regardless of statistics, however, I extend my argument from last round that states that; legalising abortion to increase the safety of abortions can only be a justifiable act if it is assumed that abortion is a perfectly acceptable act that doesn’t violate someone’s rights. However, my opening ‘rights’ argument demonstrates that abortion does violate the foetus’s right to life.

In other words, Con’s argument is only valid insofar as my ‘rights’ argument is invalid, because if abortion is a rights-violating act such as theft, murder or rape, then it is absurd to legalise it to protect the perpetrator. As I said in round 2, it is nonsensical to legalise theft in order to protect the health of thieves.

Since Con hasn’t refuted my ‘rights’ argument, his argument from unsafe abortions is invalid.

Socio-economic effects

Con doesn’t really refute anything here, he accuses me of making a ‘faulty comparison’ fallacy, whereas I do not. I presume Con has misunderstood the argument, in which case I will reiterate:

Con’s argument here is that ‘we should allow abortion to prevent the socio-economic problems associated with unwanted persons’. In other words, the ‘goal’ is the elimination of problem-ridden persons from growing up in society.

But if this is why we are legalising abortion, there is nothing that says that the killing of unwanted persons is justified inside the womb but not justified outside the womb, since birth is an arbitrary cut-off point. If the goal is to eliminate unwanted persons from growing up in society, then why stop at foetuses? Why should we not kill off unwanted children or teenagers? Since that would still achieve the same goal of eliminating unwanted persons.

Therefore, if Con is to be consistent within this argument, he also has to accept that his logic would allow the killing of unwanted children; that is, infanticide.

Use of abortion laws

Con writes:

‘[Pro] argues that abortion is high in countries presented merely because of a lack of law in those areas. This is true to a point. But it also ignores the fact that after Roe v. Wade, abortion rates in the US (a developed country) fell to its lowest since 1973 just recently in 2011. There is also evidence that this is part of a general "U-turn" trend from Roe v. Wade, as this decrease has gone on for twenty years.’

In other words, abortion rates have decreased since Roe vs Wade.

This is somewhat of a straw-man argument, since I never denied the reduction in abortion rates since 1973 (I actually think its good that abortion rates are decreasing), but I do not see how Con can say that the abortion rates are decreasing because of Roe vs Wade. In fact, the abortion rate shot up post-Roe (4) and only started declining in 1990. My opponent seems to make the argument that abortion legalisation would reduce the abortion rate, but actually, the decrease in abortion rates since 1990 can be attributed to three main possibilities:

1. Introduction of restrictions on abortion
2. Less need for abortion
3. Increasing amount of pro-life people of child-bearing age

Point 1 is what I emphasised in my round 3 rebuttal (source 8). This says the opposite of Con’s argument that liberalising abortion would decrease abortion rates - the evidence suggest that the opposite is true.






a.) Safety and Abortion

In this argument, I would like to analyze the South African case, and move onto the "rights" test.

The opposition says that "I would contend that abortion legalisation has coincided with an increase of the maternal mortality rate fourfold." This may be so, but that argument has nothing to do with abortion indeed. For, as the Human Rights Watch reports, "HIV/AIDS caused 43.7 percent of maternal deaths between 2005 and 2007." [1] The rate of death via abortion in South Africa, although still quite high, has reduced significantly since abortion becoming legal, with an 11% increase of women coming safe from abortions. [2] Hence, with this, we can conclude that in South Africa, liberal abortion policy did indeed save many lives.

b.) Frequency of Abortion

In this argument, I shall like to analyze the New study, cited in R3 Citation 8. It seems here that the study concluded with the fact that in restrictive abortion states, the number of abortions decreased by 22.22%. However, I shall argue that the New study has serious flaws which could create further points of clashes.

As Marshal H. Mendoff reports, "New failed to indicate in his article is that both the CDC and the GI abortion figures are reported only by the state in which the abortion was performed (state of occurrence) rather than by the state of residence of the women who had the abortion." This is significant, as many US women travel to other states with more liberal abortion laws to get their abortion performed, hence merely changing the location of the abortion, but not the frequency of the abortion. When the data was re-examined upon improved grounds, it was shown that " the incidence of abortion over the period 1985-2005 finds little empirical evidence that the decline in the number of abortions performed since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 Casey decision was due to the increase in the number of antiabortion laws enacted." [3]

c.) Socio-Economic Effects of Abortion

The core of the opposition's rejection of this argument is based upon the fact that the same logic could be used to justify something else. This is "faulty comparison," for (a.) the same logic cannot indeed by used to justify something else, and (b.) even if it does, that takes nothing away from the argument.

Let us analyze (a.). Pro says "the ‘goal’ is the elimination of problem-ridden persons from growing up in society." Is it? There is a difference between "undesired" and "problematic." If Jack and Jill were to have intercourse without intent of a baby, but one comes along, isn't the baby "undesired?" However, if Jack and Jill had intercourse with an intent of a baby, but one of them died from falling down a hill, doesn't that mean Jack and Jill's baby's childhood would be problematic? The goal here is to rid undesire children to prevent them from a problematic upbringing, not to get rid of unwanted ones. 92% of abortions are done within the first trimester, and those that happen in the third trimester is often justified using the opposition's policy (threat to life). [4]

And even if so, (b.) provides us with a good reason why we should reject such comparisons as negating the argument. Isn't eating meat much like a psychopathic genocide i.e. "we kill because we like to eat them"? Such a practice is inhumane, yet a law criminalizing the meat industry would be unwanted. Isn't the government like God on Earth, punishing crimes that people sometimes do not deserve punishment? But if we were to do away with the government, then we'd be pretty much screwed over. HENCE, even if the same logic could be used to justify Holodomir or infanticide, the argument wouldn't be necessarily negated.


a.) Rights

Here, I would like to refute Pro's claim that the meaning of "person" actually pertains to fetuses. And I would also like to reassert that the Constitution still protects the right to privacy as fundamental, and does not indeed deserve to be neutralized by unprotected homo sapiens.

Firstly, the opposition says that "[the references to "Persons" in the Constitution] can easily be explained [because] the vast majority of [Persons referenced in the document] have already been born, so it makes perfect sense that most references to persons within the constitution will be references to born humans." This suffers from two errors. The first being that the opposition's case does not contain any legal decisions which support it. This is an important point-for "person" in the Constitution must have only one definition unless stated otherwise. Moreover, when a definition of "Person" is established within a document, it should be taken to mean the same thing throughout the document, unless necessarily stated before. Apart from this, this argument as a whole does not further Pro's policy: for if all babies had the right to life, then does threatening the lives of their parents should not be considered for abortion.

Secondly, Pro says that Con "affirmed the consequent." "All citizens of the United States are persons, but not all persons are citizens of the United States" is affirmed. However, "it is a fallacy to conclude that all citizens are born persons" is indeed vague. Moreover, the fact that citizenship starts with birth in the US is a rather established fact. In United States v. Wong Kim Ark, the Supreme Court ruled that "All person born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside" after the US government attempted to restrict citizenship to an American-Chinese born in the United States. [5] Implications of this includes the mere fact that American citizenship starts with birth in the territories of the United States (or in other cases, birth in foreign territory with the requirements for American citizenship).

Thirdly, the opposition says that "the 14th amendment is an 18th century text, written in a time where virtually nothing was known of foetal development." However, this was how the Supreme Court decided the case District of Columbia v. Heller, by applying the "18th Century" definitions to the 2nd Amendment, which ultimately concluded with the 2nd Amendment inclusion of the normal individual. [6] If we were to use the same logic, Webster's 1828, one of the dictionary used to decide District of Columbia v. Heller, we see that person meant a human being with a body and soul (rational, conscious etc.) [7] Apart from this, we must notice again that no Supreme Court decision whatsoever was used to support the claim that the Constitution extended pre-natally. And finally, the interpretation of the word "person" until the late 19th century has always been post-natally, leading the Supreme Court to declare that "that throughout the major portion of the 19th century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today, persuades us that the word "person," as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn." [8]

Lastly, upon a little side note, the ‘Unborn Victims of Violence Act’ 2004 did indeed exclude abortions, for although the fetus was now a legal victim via these laws, they were not a victim to abortion. As S.1841 C.1 says, "Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the prosecution of any person for conduct relating to an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman, or a person authorized by law to act on her behalf, has been obtained or for which such consent is implied by law." [9]

Hence, we can conclude here that the definition of 'Person' extends post-natally, as there has been Supreme Court case declaring the opposing (pre-natal) so. We can also conclude that the affirming the consequent is supported by Supreme Court decisions on citizenship, and that it would be legitimate to note that the 18th Century meaning would often be what is meant via the Constitution. Lastly, we can conclude that the 'Unborn Victims of Violence Act' 2004 does not pertain to abortion in anyway.

b.) NAP

Central to Pro's assertion is some Enlightenment political philosophy claim: (1) that the government should use "principles" and "concepts" to policy-make (rather than facts and sociality), and (2) that the government ought to use the NAP as the Criterion. These two claims must be deconstructed.

The first claim, that the government should use principles and concept during policy-making, is backed up with the claim of the state of nature. The opposition says that "the ‘state of nature’ is hypothetical." It must and can only be so-for the "state of nature" bases itself on several dangerous claims about human society, namely, that we humans have a "inherent nature," which will make the State of Nature flawed. I do not claim that humans are flawless, but I claim that humans, behaviour wise, are natureless. "What is it like to be a human" is answered quite easily-"it is like being a human." As all humans are different, we cannot use set rules to predict behaviour, for humans have different effects on these set rules. The NAP relies on the mere concept that humans are good-natured, as they will follow the laws emplaced by the government. The NAP also relies on the concept that humans will not take advantage of the law. However, both assertions are both true and false: some people take advantage of the law, others do not. What "principles" and "concepts" leads to is a destructive cycle of assumed automatas-for it assumes that all humans are one, and not another.

The thing is that we should deny adherence to such principles and focus on reality-for different laws have different effects on others, and such essentialist "principles" or "rules" will ultimately ignore how different people react to different laws.



Debate Round No. 4




Con focuses on the South African study, attempting to explain away the quadrupled maternal mortality by saying that 43.7% of maternal deaths were caused by HIV. However, this hasn't been demonstrated to account for a quadrupling of maternal deaths, which is a huge increase.

Besides, even if Con is right and the liberal abortion policy did save lives, the argument still only works if Con succeeds in proving that abortion isn't a right-violating act. If it is a rights-violating act, then the perpetrators' safety should not be considered, since they forfeit their own rights by violating the rights of another.

Furthermore, if someone chooses willingly to undergo a dangerous procedure, then they take tacit responsibility for their own welfare - it is no longer the government's prerogative to protect them.

For example, if someone willingly chooses to go jump off a bridge, they are taking responsibility for their own welfare, it is outside the government's responsibility to place safety nets under all bridges.

Therefore, if someone willingly chooses to have an unsafe abortion, they are taking responsibility for their own welfare. Hence, on a policy level, it doesn't make sense to legalise abortion to 'protect' women since these women are willingly choosing to endanger themselves!

Frequency of Abortion

Con argues against the New study by claiming that women from pro-life states travel to pro-choice states in order to have an abortion, hence refuting the study's conclusion.

However, new evidence from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that this factor doesn't eliminate the connection between pro-life laws and a reduction in abortion rates. For an average pro-life state, the average cost to travel to a pro-choice state to get an abortion is $643 (1). Since many people seek abortions because of financial problems (2), it stands to reason that many women wanting abortions will be dissuaded by the cost of travelling outside their state.

The same paper, from the NBER, concludes that if Roe was overturned and abortion became illegal in most states, then abortion rates would fall about 14.9% nationally (3). Therein lies substantial proof that abortion prohibition would reduce abortion rates - hence refuting Con's argument.

Socio-Economic Effects of Abortion

Con states:

'The goal here is to rid undesire children to prevent them from a problematic upbringing, not to get rid of unwanted ones'

But is there any difference between undesired children and unwanted ones? If there isn't, then this is a blatant logical contradiction. He is saying 'the goal here is to rid undesired children... not to get rid of undesired children'.

Which one is it? Con isn't being coherent here.

If the goal is to get rid of undesired children to prevent them from a problematic upbringing, then this would justify infanticide, since it would achieve the same end (ridding undesired children to prevent them from a problematic upbringing). Unless Con is Pro-infanticide, he cannot hold this position.

If the goal isn't to get rid of undesired children, then abortion cannot be justified on these grounds. If there is no 'goal' to get rid of undesired children, then abortion wouldn't be achieving any desirable goal.

Whichever horn of the dilemma Con decides to take on, his argument is on shaky ground.

Next, Con writes:

'And even if so, (b.) provides us with a good reason why we should reject such comparisons as negating the argument. Isn't eating meat much like a psychopathic genocide i.e. "we kill because we like to eat them"? Such a practice is inhumane, yet a law criminalizing the meat industry would be unwanted. Isn't the government like God on Earth, punishing crimes that people sometimes do not deserve punishment?'

This is a faulty comparison because eating animal meat is completely different to genocide. The intent of the former is to gain sustenance and eat a healthy diet, whereas the intent of the latter is to maliciously commit mass-murder.

The comparison between abortion and infanticide isn't faulty, on the other hand, because the intent is the same. That is, to prevent an unwanted child from a problematic upbringing.

Finally, the whole premise that we should kill people to prevent them from suffering is absurd. A rich person may deem a poor person's life as being full of suffering, yet it does not follow that the rich person is justified in killing the poor person, even if the intent is to alleviate suffering. Surely then, it is a dangerous precedent to kill foetuses on the grounds that we would prevent their suffering, because if it is justified in the case of foetal-killing, why should it not be justified in the case of infant-killing or adult-killing?



Con's first contention is that my case 'does not contain any legal decisions which support [foetal personhood]'.
But this is a blatant oversight. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act clearly supports foetal personhood because it states that an unborn human can be a victim of crime. To say this is a clear indication that a foetus is a person.

Secondly, Con asks for a constitutional definition of person. Well, since the constitution rarely bothers to define its terms, the next best thing is to consult a legal dictionary. The most prominent one, from, defines person as:

'human being' (4)

Since a foetus is a human being (proved in my round 2), it is therefore a person.

Next, Con asks:

'if all babies had the right to life, then does threatening the lives of their parents should not be considered for abortion.'

But this is a straw-man, since I established earlier in this debate that I consider abortion acceptable in cases where it is necessary in order to protect the lives of the parents.

My opponent continues to try to argue that personhood starts at birth, citing US vs Wong Kim Ark as supposed proof. However, it is clear from the context of the Supreme Court case that the case is outside the remit of deciding whether a foetus is person or not. Con takes this case completely out of context in order to twist it to deny foetal personhood.

This is supported by the fact that birth is completely arbitrary at deciding personhood/citizenship. Birth is simply the movement of a human being through the birth canal, it doesn't change the actual human being, so it doesn't make sense to say that a pre-natal human being isn't a citizen whereas a post-natal human being is one - there is no essential, morally-relevant difference between the two.

Con's next argument is based on a Supreme Court declaration that states that the fourteenth amendment does not include the unborn because abortion practices were 'far freer' back then. However, I would content that the Supreme Court is not an absolute authority on the constitution, it is possible for the SCOTUS to interpret it incorrectly (as I argue here). For example, in Dred Scott vs Sanford, the SCOTUS decreed that blacks weren't entitled to the same level of citizenship as whites (5).
Therefore, just because SCOTUS interprets the constitution a certain way, it does not follow that they are always right in their interpretation. Because of this, the SCOTUS's assertion that the fourteenth amendment only applies post-natally does not mean that it is true that the fourteenth amendment only applies post-natally.

Finally, whilst the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA) does have a clause that exempts abortion, this was only done in order to allow the act to get through. It merely placated the pro-choice movement from complaining even more. It does not change the fact that pronouncing the unborn as victims is a clear indication that they have legal status as persons. But this conclusion is all I needed to support my first argument, the UVVA doesn't need to explicitly condemn abortion, all it needed to do was establish foetal personhood.


Again, Con talks a lot of talk here, without actually addressing the key points of the argument. It is an unavoidable fact that a criterion is necessary to establish a distinction between prohibited acts and non-prohibited acts. If we don't have a criterion, then all law-making would be completely arbitrary.

So, given that we need a criterion, we must find the best criterion. Well, in terms of government, it should find the best criterion in order to ensure the best version of society. I contend that the NAP is the best criterion because it maximises utility and accords with protection of rights and non-interferrence with harmless activities.

Unless Con can either:

1. Refute the need for a criterion
2. Refute the premise that the NAP is the most suitable criterion (what the government should use).

My argument stands.

More to the point, Con needs to remember what the NAP actually states. It states that it is not permissible for one to initiate aggression against another.

My opponent would struggle to refute the truth of the NAP, since it would require him to posit a scenario where it is permissible for one to initiate aggression against another. Yet there is no such scenario (self-defence doesn't count, since it isn't an initiation of aggression, only a response to it).


Con makes two arguments and I make two. Con's first argument, from the danger of illegal abortions, requires that he refute my 'rights' argument, otherwise it begs the question. Since Con has failed to refute my 'rights' argument, his first argument fails.

Con's second argument falls quickly into both absurdities (such as justifying infanticide) and dubious assumptions (that killing is justified if we deem someone's life not worth living).

To conclude, I have refuted all of Con's arguments and he has failed to refute any of mine. Hence the resolution is affirmed.





a.) Safety and Abortion

Here, Pro claims that (a.) South Africa is an invalid example of how abortion laws affected abortion safety in the country.

Pro claims that "[although HIV accounts for a little less than half of all the maternal deaths] this hasn't been demonstrated to account for a quadrupling of maternal deaths, which is a huge increase." However, a very small minority of this "quadrupling" has been because of abortion. From 2008 to 2010, 4,867 maternal deaths were recorded: of these, only a tiny minority (23% of the 186 septic related deaths) directly was the result of unsafe abortion. [1] Apart from this, although around two rounds late, Pro's graph, which was cited in R2 S1 presents a incomplete picture of the effects of Roe v. Wade. A new graph, released by Guttmacher, shows another trend, in which abortion related deaths in the United States dropped by 20 times within 10 years, [2] whilst in the graph the opposition cited, abortion dropped only around seven times in 14 years [3].

Apart from this, when he claims that the government has no business in a women's choice to willingly endanger her own body, doesn't that show that the government should not screw around with abortion?

b.) Frequency

Pro in his rebuttal that "the average cost to travel to a pro-choice state to get an abortion is $643," which somehow refutes the fact that many women get extra-territorial abortions. He does this by quoting a paper by Mr. Joyce which predicts that if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, a 14% decrease in abortion would be experienced.

There are many problems with Mr. Joyce's studies. He uses only New York statistics. However, California has twice as many abortions as New York yearly. Moreover, the decline in abortion rates are present even in liberal abortion states, which hence weakens the argument that more restrctions would lead to less abortion. [4] And although 87% of all known abortions perfomed outside of state are perfomed in New York, it might also be the case that many more are performed in California, but due to being surrounded via conservative states, these cases are under-reported. And even Mr. Joyce offers some devastating critique of overturning Roe v. Wade: "a reversal of Roe is unlikely to cause drastic increases in unintended childbearing, but it would likely have a significant impact on those with the least resources and wherewithal to adjust."

Pro's arguments are based on the Rational Choice Theory. However, via positing that rationality is the only thing that effects choice making, he is ignoring the other factors: progressive sex education, availability of conception and less taboos concerning intercourse definitely effected the abortion rate. And since abortion rates are declining in both conservative and liberal states, we can assume that a factor other than restrictive legislation is present.

c.) Socio-Economic Effects of Abortion

Pro's claim here has been simple: Pro has not doubted the empirical evidence, but has doubted the logic of it, as the same logic is used to justify genocide and infanticide.

Again, Pro is blackmailing us into accepting his conclusions. There is a difference between unwanted and problematic children. We are not getting rid of "problematic" children, so much as we are geting rid of unwanted children. Unwanted children will be problematic, no matter what: problematic children have a glimmer of hope at the end of the railway track of life. And although I would agree, that in ancient Rome, infanticide was used as an ancient abortion, we are now able to prevent the suffering of children in later life without actually effecting their feelings (i.e. causing pain). Pro's arguments are, in this respect, mainly ad hominems, faulty comparisons and blackmails that do not doubt the actual empirical evidence.


a.) Rights

Pro's argument is based on three things: that (a.) since the Constitution lacks definitions, then we should consult a "legal dictionary", that (b.) the SCOTUS occasionally misinterprets the Constitution, and that (c.) the UVVA protects fetuses and provides legal personhood for the fetus.

Let us start with the Constitution's definitions. Pro argues that there is no stable definition of what is meant by person, because all references in the Constitution pertaining to "persons" (apart from the 5th and the 14th Amendment) connotes pre-natal interpretations. However, this logic would equally be damaging: what if the words "the United States" sometimes meant the original colonies, and other times meant the colonies after the Louisiana purchase. The "United States" is a term taken for granted in the Constitution: it means a geo-political body in the US, which includes the many states.

Pro then argues that a legal dictionary is a more coherent body of evidence than the SCOTUS. He presents no defence for this. That is because, even among legal dictionaries, the definition of “Person” is unclear. The definition Pro used comes from “The People's Law Dictionary.” However, in Bouvier's Legal Dictionary, we are specifically told that "In law, man and person are not exactly synonymous terms...A person is a man considered according to the rank he holds in society, with all the rights to which the place he holds entitles him, and the duties which it imposes." [7] Even in US law, this definition is very often varied and incoherent. In 1 U.S. Code § 8, which describes and define acts pertaining to “Public Law” (as opposed to Constitutional Law), we are told that “the words “person”, “human being”, “child”, and “individual”, shall include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive” [8] It clear here that even legal dictionary definitions are incoherent. Pro, by using this, proposes that we take an assumed definition and replace that with an incoherent one.

Moreover, if we were to use the dictionary definition, we should consult 18-19th century dictionaries. SCOTUS’s interpretative works attempts to find the Constitution as the Founding Fathers understood it. In deciding Heller v. Washington D.C., the Supreme Court used Webster’s 1828, a dictionary which was contemporaneous with the Constitution. In Webster’s 1828, a person is defined as being conscious and rational: something a fetus is not, and cannot be.

Pro states that the SCOTUS can occassionally be wrong, and uses Scott v. Sanford to support his opinion. Although Pro misinterprets Scott v. Sanford, I must note that the method used by Scott v. Sanford uses the exact same method that Pro uses to interpret his Constitution. In the case, dissenting judge Benjamin Curtis notes, “when fixed rules which govern the interpretation of laws [are] abandoned and theoretical opinions of individuals are allowed to control, we no longer have a Constitution.” [9] Scott v. Sanford allowed for misintepretation because of misintepretations of the powers of Congress, and ignoring how the African-American community has always been part of the US community. [10] The abortion related SCOTUS cases cannot be called misinterpretations, for they are based on many non-abortion related cases (cited throughout debate) and no addition to the Constitution was made. Pro, however, assumes that "Person" in the Constitution could have two meanings, which is abusrd. Pro also adds bits of his own opinion, which contradict his Constitution, into his interpretation of the clauses.

On a side note, the UVVA had abortion-related clauses as it protected wanted and to be born children, not unwanted children.

This leads us to the last main objection: shouldn’t everyone have rights, including fetuses, under this argument? Shouldn’t this mean that all termination of fetuses would be immoral and should be sanctioned by the government? Since all instances of abortion are immoral and rights violating, shouldn’t abortions that are done “in order to save the life of the mother from death or serious physical injury” be illegal? This necessarily conflicts with Pro’s policy as pro describes in R1.

b.) NAP

Pro’s central claims in this argument is that (a.) the government should use an essentialist criterion to policy make, that (b.) this criterion should be the NAP, and that (c.) the NAP states that abortion should be banned. I am going to analyse only the first and second claim, since they are pretty much all based on each other.

What I argued for the duration of the debate is that the government should not base itself on an abstract essentialist principle, for it assumes that the reaction to all laws are similar. To this, Pro repeatedly denies it, necessarily saying that if a criteria were required, then it is the NAP. However, this fails anyhow to “refute” my case anyhow, for Pro still assumes that we need an overlying criterion.

What I have also argued for the duration of this debate is that the usage of abstract axioms leads to “gaps” taken from reality. To this, Pro challenges me to “posit a scenario where it is permissible for one to initiate aggression against another.” This is apart from the point-even if the NAP is true, should we use it to policy-make is another problem?

Lastly, Pro claims that under my policy-making philosophy, law making would be random and unprincipled. However, under my policy-making philosophy, policy making would be based on reality (how people react to laws) rather than theory (how essentialists see people react to laws). Policy making should be “demand” satisfying, rather than “morally” satisfying.


Pro has failed to fulfill his BoP (show that his policy is justified, deters acts and provide for a better society) which he has accepted. Some of Pro's arguments are incoherent with his policy. All Pro's arguments stand refuted, and the resolution is NEGATED!



Debate Round No. 5
18 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Philocat 1 year ago
@tejretics, I think that the abortion *legality* debate in the US almost always descend into semantic debates over certain words in the constitution, sometimes completely disregarding the question which is at the heart of the abortion debate as a whole - namely whether abortion is a morally permissible act.

What this debate amounted to was really whether the constitution prohibits abortion or not. While this may be an interesting debate for those who are interested in constitutional law, it doesn't actually discuss the important matter of abortion and whether it is an acceptable act.

Debates about abortion morality, on the other hand, do actually engage with the central discourse between pro-life and pro-choice (so long as the participants don't go for an anti-realist moral framework). I don't know about you, but abortion morality debates are superior to abortion legality debates because they engage more with the issue at hand.
Posted by Philocat 1 year ago
What country would be the basis for debating legality?
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago

I'm willing to debate you on this.
Posted by Wylted 2 years ago
I've been requested to vote on this also. I'm getting so many requests, I'm not sure if I'll be able to, but I'll take a look
Posted by 18Karl 2 years ago
moar votes plz
Posted by tejretics 2 years ago
I have been requested to vote on this by 18Karl, but I guarantee that I shall not be a biased judge, as I have judged debates for Philocat before as well. I'll have a vote up soon.
Posted by 18Karl 2 years ago
some1 please vote
Posted by Philocat 2 years ago
Ah, that's where the 'malicious' vote was.

IIRC, that vote was entirely justified and I stand by it.
Posted by tejretics 2 years ago
@Philocat, use Rich Text - it saves you character space while formatting.
Posted by 18Karl 2 years ago

provideo is largest troll after Eduard Khil, and if true, largest dick since Hitler
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by tejretics 2 years ago
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