Abortion should be legal
Debate Rounds (3)
1) Uncertainty about the beginning of life
The scientific answer to the question of whether life begins at conception, at birth, or at some other point during a pregnancy is not absolute, but depends on which perspective is used (1). Therefore, legal systems are unable to know whether embryos and fetuses are scientifically human. However, international human rights codes (2) and almost all national constitutions, including that of the United States (3), refrain from defining them as such. Giving embryos and fetuses legal status as human beings would come with many complications, such as the hassle of counting them in censuses and recording them as tax dependents, as well as such absurdities as extensions of birth certificates (which would, of course, now be conception certificates) and social security numbers to the unborn. Given that there's a chance of miscarriage, this wouldn't be at all practical.
Although we don't scientifically know whether a fetus is human and legally, fetuses are not considered human in the vast majority of cases, we do know that women are human and most certainly do have corresponding human rights. This includes the right to their own bodies. The human rights of someone acknowledged as a person by science and law should take priority over the rights of a fetus that, due to our lack of consensus on whether it's alive or not, we don't even know we should be giving to them. The government should protect lives, but when something isn't legally considered alive and hasn't been proven definitively by science to be so and this thing is attached to and dependent on someone's body, it isn't protecting life, it's restricting the autonomy of the mother and infringing on her freedom.
2) The parasitism of the embryo/fetus
A parasite is a plant or an animal organism that lives in or on another and takes its nourishment from that other organism (4). If a fetus is alive, it fits this definition. It's inside the mother's uterus and completely depends on her blood supply for oxygen and nutrients (5). Pregnancy also has several negative side effects on the mother (6). I'm not implying that pregnancies are like diseases, because if the mother consents to loaning out her organs to another being, dealing with side effects, giving birth and caring for a baby and is able to do this without significant emotional trauma, damage to her personal life or ambitions or financial difficulty, that's great. But if she doesn't want something inside her, living in and off her body, she shouldn't be forced to have it.
An analogy can be drawn here with organ donation. In some cases, a definitely living person's life can be saved by an organ donation. But donation isn't compulsory, and if a donor isn't found, the person dies. This is because people need to give consent before parts of their body are loaned out, even if someone could die if they don't. If people shouldn't be forced to let those in need use their organs, why should a mother be forced to let an embryo/fetus use hers?
Babies and young children also depend on their mothers, but this is social dependence, so it doesn't affect bodily autonomy. Mothers could breastfeed, thus making their babies dependent on their bodies for nutrition, but they don't have to now that they can buy milk. Placentas and sacs of amniotic fluid, however, aren't sold in supermarkets. Only the mother's body can nourish a fetus - it can only survive as a parasite. Ergo, it shouldn't survive without the mother's consent.
3) Alternatives and safety
Mothers instinctively won't want to get abortions, because limiting the number of offspring limits the survival chance of humanity. So this "irresponsible mother who aborts because she feels like it," is an anti-choice myth. In actuality, women sometimes have no choice but to abort. The use of abortion as birth control could be due to the malfunctioning of contraceptives,or the fact that they're not easily accessible or sex education classes haven't taught women to obtain or use them correctly. When there are freely and easily accessible contraceptives, abortion rates are lower (7). It makes much more sense for women to use contraception than to have an abortion, as it's cheaper, easier, less time-consuming and causes less pain and distress than abortion, so they're more likely to do so. But if they're unable to and want to terminate their pregnancy, they should have the right to do so.
Adoption is often lauded as an alternative beneficial to both parties: the mother isn't forced to look after a child, and the fetus doesn't die. But women have other motives to abort besides inability to care for a potential child. implies that the only reason a woman would want to get an abortion is to avoid raising a child, and that isn"t the case. Birth can cost between $3,000 and $37,000 in the United States (8) and is the sixth most common cause of death for women aged 20 - 34 (9). As well as the harmful side effects of pregnancy I mentioned earlier, pregnant women, especially teenagers, are also at risk of being socially shunned, abused by parents or partners or becoming depressed because of their pregnancies, and this can have profound negative psychological impact on them. Not to mention the fact that if the pregnancy was a result of rape or the mother's life is at risk, forcing her to carry a fetus endangers her life and health and that of the fetus. If a mother being forced to give birth to a child she can't look after results in the child being orphaned, the child will often be psychologically damaged, and even adoption can cause damage (10). An abortion could actually save a child from having an awful life.
As there's often no alternative to abortion, unsurprisingly, women seek them even if they're illegal (11). This causes a black market, which is unsafe for both the mother and the fetus. Romania banned abortion for 15 years from 1966, during which time over 9,000 women died from unsafe abortion and many more were permanently injured (12). When it was legalised there, the maternal mortality rate fell by 50% in the first year alone (13). Abortions can be one of the safest medical procedures, with a death risk 14 times less than that of giving birth (14) but only if carried out professionally and hygienically and not on the black market.
To conclude, abortion should be legal for the sake of the certain personhood of the mother, the health, safety and quality of life of both her and the fetus, and because there is often no alternative that doesn't involve stripping the mother of her humanity.
2. https://www.un.org... - "All humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights."
5. http://education-portal.com..., http://www.articlesbase.com... and every other article on fetal development.
11. Medical World News. 1987. Abortion Clinic's Toughest Cases. pp 55-61. March 9.
12. Kligman, Gail. "Political Demography: The Banning of Abortion in Ceausescu's Romania". In Ginsburg, Faye D.; Rapp, Rayna, eds. Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction
1) "The fetus is the same before birth as it is after birth. It has the same DNA."
The difference is that before birth, the fetus is a parasite - it uses and depends on the organs of the mother to survive. It should not be able to use her organs without her consent, just as organ donors must give consent before others are allowed to use their organs.
2) "Most abortions take place 8 weeks or longer after fertilisation, when the fetus can feel pain."
This is not the case. 64% of abortions are performed before 8 weeks" gestation, and 91.7% before 13 weeks. Not only that, but fetuses cannot feel pain before 24 weeks' gestation at the very earliest because connections from the fetal body to the cortex that are necessary for pain perception are not intact before 24 weeks of gestation - and even after that, fetuses abide "in a continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation" that "can suppress higher cortical activation in the presence of intrusive external stimuli." (1)
3) "The fetus is not part of the mother's body."
No, but as I argued in my opening arguments, it is a parasite. A parasite is not part of the body of its host, it just lives inside it and takes its nourishment from it. (2)
4) "It is troubling when one group of people dehumanises another group of people."
Only when the other group are actually people. There is no scientific evidence conclusively proving so (3) and the US constitution and Universal Declaration of Human Rights have not labelled them as people (4).
5) "Women have the right to use contraception if they do not want a child, but abortion is wrong unless the mother's life is in danger or the baby will die anyway."
Contraception can malfunction, and sometimes sex education that isn't thorough enough or birth control that is strictly regulated or unavailable can cause a woman to not know, through no fault of her own, how to obtain or use contraception. Is it fair for her to then be forced to deal with all the side effects and emotional stress of pregnancy (and sometimes consequent abuse or shunning) and loan out her organs to something she hasn't given consent to to use them?
2. See Source 4 of my opening argument.
3. See Source 2 of my opening argument.
4. See Source 3 of my opening argument.
Con did not address my opening arguments, and much of what they said in their R2 argument was addressed in my opening argument, so I will use excerpts and sources from that argument here.
1) "Where does science say that life begins at birth or viability? Uniqueness is what defines humanity, not location. Should born people be killed if they depend on a machine for life support? What about the rights of the baby to choose?"
"The scientific answer to the question of whether life begins at conception, at birth, or at some other point during a pregnancy is not absolute, but depends on which perspective is used (1). Therefore, legal systems are unable to know whether embryos and fetuses are scientifically human. However, international human rights codes (2) and almost all national constitutions, including that of the United States (3), refrain from defining them as such. Giving embryos and fetuses legal status as human beings would come with many complications, such as the hassle of counting them in censuses and recording them as tax dependents, as well as such absurdities as extensions of birth certificates (which would, of course, now be conception certificates) and social security numbers to the unborn. Given that there's a chance of miscarriage, this wouldn't be at all practical."
In other words, there is no conclusive scientific answer to the question of whether a fetus is alive or not, and there never will be because it always depends on perspective and one can't say that, for example, the embryological answer is "more valid," than the ecological one because they are looking at the question from totally different angles. But generally, foetuses are not legally defined as living. And anyway, whether the fetus is alive or not is irrelevant, because even living people are not allowed to use the body of another person without their consent. Someone with badly damaged lungs could die if they don't get a lung transplant, but the donors still have to be willing to donate segments of their lungs. If no one is willing to donate, the person with damage lungs will die. Is this a reason to support compulsory organ donation? No, because people should have control over their own body parts, even if robbing them of their autonomy would save the life of another. If a woman is pregnant and wants an abortion, she hasn't consented to the fetus using her body parts and therefore has the right to not loan out her body to it. In addition, unlike someone who is dying from diseased lungs, the fetus is unlikely to be able to feel pain (4), unable to go through the emotional trauma of dying and has no family who will be deeply saddened by its death - so why should it have a greater "right to life," than them?
A machine does not have feelings, human rights or bodily autonomy, unlike a human being. It exists solely for the purpose of keeping a human alive. Humans don't exist solely for the purpose of donating organs to the sick, and women definitely don't exist solely for the purpose of childbirth or pregnancy.
2) "You are nitpicking. Whether you are right or I am about how late abortions take place is not relevant to the fact that abortion kills a human being."
I wasn't the one who brought up this point - I was simply refuting an argument made in the previous round. Refusal to donate a segment of one's organ could also kill a human being, and unlike a fetus, the human being killed in this situation is certainly alive.
3) "If the fetus is not human, what species is it?"
A dead person is also human by species, but dead people don't legally have human rights. And again, even living people in the case of organ donation are not allowed to undermine the autonomy of another for the sake of their right to life.
Sources 1, 2 and 3 are sources 1, 2 and 3 of my opening argument while source 4 is source 1 of my argument in R2.
A large part of my opening argument has gone uncontested. Con has a lot of work to do in order to negate this debate's motion in the final round.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Relativist 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: S & G was for Con's format. Con made several cases, of which all were clustered into a single paragraph. Both debaters made loads of points without probing deeper and because of the large amount of points, dividing it is necessary. S&G goes to Pro. As for arguments, it was pretty clear. Pro proffers cases such as the rights of the mother, fetus as a parasite along with sources to back it up while Con sticks with a cross examination rebuttal technique. The questioning had a reasonable rebuttal, however Pro answers them thoroughly. In addition, Con dropped several arguments and did not clarify the alternatives of defining a fetus or instances of how 'abortion is murder', Con merely asserts it is. Pro's flaws were that too many points were offered and that the lack of clarity weakens her case. Con would have won if Con had more depth in Con's arguments. However, this was obviously not the case. The level of depth in Con's argument was lower than pro.Hence, Pro wins a clear victory.
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