The Instigator
TheSkeptic
Pro (for)
Winning
20 Points
The Contender
CP
Con (against)
Losing
14 Points

Abortion up to the Second Trimester Should Be Legalized.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/4/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,406 times Debate No: 6780
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (7)

 

TheSkeptic

Pro

I argue that abortion should be legalized up to the second trimester. The second trimester ends around the 27th week[1]. Personally I'm not against the third trimester also, but to make this debate more specific I decided to just limit it to the 2nd trimester.

I argue that a fetus is not a person, and thus it is not murder. Since it is not murder, the rights of the mother take precedence over the rights of the fetus (if it even has any to begin with).

I will allow my opponent to go first.

---References---
1. http://www.mayoclinic.com...
CP

Con

My opponent's resolution states: "Abortion up to the Second Trimester Should Be Legalized." As my opponent and I both reside in the United States, I must assume we are debating legality of abortion relative to this nation. Since he specifies that abortion up to the second trimester "SHOULD BE" legalized, we necessarily must be debating that abortion OUGHT to be legalized up to my opponent's only standard: the end of the second trimester. While ever so slight, this would certainly be a change to the current legal position on abortion in the U.S. If my opponent was merely attempting to defend the status quo, he would have stated something along the lines of "Abortion up to the Second Trimester is Legally Justifiable". Since he did not, I will be supporting the position of keeping the current laws intact.

Based on the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade (1973), the court "held that a mother may abort her pregnancy for any reason, up until the "point at which the fetus becomes ‘viable.'" The Court defined viable as being "potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid. Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks."[1]" (http://en.wikipedia.org...)

As the Supreme Court ruling has essentially already legalized abortions up to the point where the fetus can be deemed viable, which takes place around the end of the second trimester, I am curious to hear why he believes this ruling should be overturned in lieu of his proposed standard. I can only imagine he takes opposition to the Court's determination as to the relevance of viability. If this is the case, my opponent must argue why his seemingly indiscriminate time period of the second trimester is superior to the Court's standard of viability.

My opponent states "I argue that a fetus is not a person, and thus it is not murder." This statement not only contradicts his case, but it makes it nearly impossible for him to affirm the resolution. If my opponent truly believes this, then there was no reason for him limit the debate to the second trimester. The individual in the womb remains a fetus until birth (http://en.wikipedia.org...). This clearly puts my opponent in a difficult situation to justify why the end of the second trimester should be the only standard for determining the legality of abortions. By my opponents own logic, abortions should be legalized up to the birth of the fetus.

I will remind my opponent (and the audience) that he had the ability to set up this debate with a formulated resolution and a first round argument which supported that resolution. The fact that he contradicted his own resolution, while most certainly unintentional, does not relieve him of his obligation to affirm the resolution which he himself devised. If he would like to challenge me to a separate debate regarding legalizing abortions up until birth, I would be more than happy to do so.
Debate Round No. 1
TheSkeptic

Pro

I thank my opponent for taking this debate, and his rather interesting twist for this topic.

=====Counterarguments=====

"Since he specifies that abortion up to the second trimester "SHOULD BE" legalized, we necessarily must be debating that abortion OUGHT to be legalized up to my opponent's only standard: the end of the second trimester."

----> UNTRUE. Saying abortion of the 2nd trimester should be legalized does not mean any attempts at further legalizing abortion should be stopped. This is a faulty assumption that my opponent centers his entire argument around. If you just bring up other examples, it shows the fallacy in my opponent's thinking.

For example, let's say that the homosexuals of America hypothetically can not MARRY or be in a CIVIL UNION. Do realize, that federally speaking, a civil union has 1000+ rights LESS than a marriage. So if you are in a civil union, you do get all the state rights but none of the federal rights. Of course, gay couples across America can engage in civil unions, but not in this example. If I were to argue that "gay couples should be allowed to engage in civil unions (assuming they can't in this example)", then does that mean I also argue that they OUGHT NOT MARRY? By my opponent's logic, if I argue for the rights of matrimony for gay couples in virtue of civil unions, then I am also saying they shouldn't be allowed to marry - which is preposterous. Nice try CP, but ultimately you have created a strawman.

1. Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade (1973)

My "proposed standard" MATCHES this ruling, so your argument is erroneous. The second trimester typically ends on the 28th week [1], which is the Court's definition of being "viable".

2. Abortion isn't murder

Again, this portion of my opponent's argument rests on the false assumption that if I argued for abortion during the second trimester, then I am against abortion for the third trimester. This is simply not true nor accurately inducted.

=====Conclusion=====

I applaud my opponent for his interesting back-bending argument in his position, but ultimately it fails. While it seems apparent that the phrase "abortion up the second trimester should be legalized" means that abortion dealing with the third trimester should be barred, there is nothing that says so. It's safe to say that my opponent's entire argument is built upon and broken down by one point: his misunderstanding that arguing FOR 2nd-trimester-abortion does not necessarily mean it's arguing AGAINST 3rd-trimester-abortion.
CP

Con

Thanks to theSkeptic for the quick reply and continuance of this debate.

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"UNTRUE. Saying abortion of the 2nd trimester should be legalized does not mean any attempts at further legalizing abortion should be stopped"

Stating that something should be legalized up to an N-th degree lends itself to arguing that N + 1 should either be, or should remain, illegal. His example of Marriage and Civil Unions is far from analogous to this argument as it deals with two different concepts with varying implications. A more appropriate example would be if I argued that personal possession of heroine up to 3 grams should be legalized. Since any amount of this substance (and even paraphernalia) is currently considered illegal, it would be logical to conclude that I view anything over 3 grams should remain illegal. If this was not the case, why would I have set the limit at 3 grams? So I can come back later and argue that the limit should really be 10 kilos? Nonsense. If I had a valid argument for legalizing heroine up to 10 kilos, then any argument I made for specifically limiting possession to 3 grams was pointless and irrelevant.

My opponent made the mistake of incorrectly formulating his resolution, and then he argues for it with an contention that begs the question: If a fetus is not a person and the rights of the mother take precedence, then why is he arguing to only legalize abortions UP TO the end of the second trimester? It just isn't logical.

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1. Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade (1973)

"My "proposed standard" MATCHES this ruling, so your argument is erroneous."

Wrong. While my opponent's proposed standard of the end of the second trimester happens to fall within the general time period expressed in the citation I provided, he may want to re-read the Court's decision. The Court's standard is viability. While at this time (<-- remember this), viability generally falls between 24 - 28 weeks. This means that it would be illegal to abort a fetus that is found to be viable in weeks 24 - 26. This would conflict with your proposition of legalizing all abortions up to the end of the 27th week.

"The second trimester typically ends on the 28th week [1], which is the Court's definition of being "viable"."

Wrong again. The Court's definition of viable was "potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, ALBEIT with artificial aid". If, in the future, medical advances in incubation are made which allow a fetus to survive outside the womb after only 10 weeks, it would be illegal to abort a fetus at even 10 weeks.

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2. Abortion isn't murder

My opponent is correct here; Abortion is not murder. However, murder also isn't the ultimate determinant of whether an action against another human being (person) is moral or legal. Unless my opponent has any objections, I think we can both agree that the killing of an innocent human being should be considered immoral and therefore also illegal. Let's get to some definitions:

Person:
-noun
1: human , individual —sometimes used in combination especially by those who prefer to avoid man in compounds applicable to both sexes (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)

- From the U.S. National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health -
Fetus:
-noun
2. a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth (http://www2.merriam-webster.com...)

From the above we can certainly conclude that a fetus is indeed a person. My opponent's argument that "a fetus is not a person" is therefore nullified. The next part we must examine is whether or not the rights of the mother take precedence over the rights of the person (fetus) in the womb. Since the Supreme Court has already ruled it illegal to abort a fetus once viable, it must be seen that the fetus must retain at least the right to life. The only instance where the Court has offered to allow the mother's rights to supersede that of the viable fetus's is in instances where the mother's health (right to life) is in danger. If my opponent would like to argue that a mother's right to pursuit of happiness should trump a person's right to life, I'm more than willing to argue it.

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I await my opponent's rationale for changing the existing laws regarding legality of abortion (viability of the fetus) for his proposed standard (the end of the second trimester).
Debate Round No. 2
TheSkeptic

Pro

I applaud my opponent for his quick response and interesting arguments.

=====Counterarguments=====

"Stating that something should be legalized up to an N-th degree lends itself to arguing that N 1 should either be, or should remain, illegal."

----> This indeed may be implied, but it does not state so necessarily. As your analogy of legalizing heroine: most would deduce that when you say you legalize up to 3 grams you also mean to not legalize anything over that limit. And that's a fair deduction. However, it is not fair to say that you have also necessarily decided to be against legalizing 10 kilos, and in my case, abortion of the third trimester. At best, you are just trying to deconstruct the semantics of the debate title. That being said, I'll go through whatever other arguments he has that doesn't center around this.

1. The Court's Decision

Concerning the possibility of a fetus being viable from weeks 24-26: I concede the point that the Court finds it illegal to abort a fetus from weeks 24-26. However, my stance does not change. Any such "viable fetus" can be and should be able to be aborted until after the second trimester. This is because not only does the fetus not have a fully developed brain (i.e. not self-aware, conscious,etc.) it also can't feel pain since the necessary neural networks haven't developed yet.

"If, in the future, medical advances in incubation are made which allow a fetus to survive outside the womb after only 10 weeks, it would be illegal to abort a fetus at even 10 weeks."
----> Which, then, I would argue against. Unless medical advanced allow the fetus to develop pain receptors and a developed brain (i.e. make it grow faster), then it should be illegal to abort it. However, looking into the future without a clear picture of when such sciences will develop is irrelevant. This debate concerns medical findings and laws that are active as of now.

2. Abortion isn't murder

My opponent's argument fails because he doesn't seem to understand the difference between a "person" and a "human". Common definitions of a person is an individual human being - a human being is a biological being called Homo Sapien. However, in philosophical terms, a person is one who is rational and capable of making judgements (thus granting them ethical responsibility, etc.). A fetus, without a working brain, can NOT do any of these things and thus abortion is NOT murder. In fact, unknown aliens can be counted as persons also - it is not human exclusive.

=====Conclusion=====

Unfortunately I have to keep my responses short as time is not on my side for these past few weeks. However, I praise my opponent for his interesting arguments and I hope the vote goes fairly (which it will most likely not). Cheers!
CP

Con

I'm sorry to hear that my opponent had to keep his response short due to a lack of time. I can completely understand; however, I think his lack of sufficient explanation will prove devastating to his case.

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"At best, you are just trying to deconstruct the semantics of the debate title."

Not so. It's unfortunate for my opponent that he hastily created a poorly conceived resolution and then unwittingly contradicted his resolution's stance. In fact, his last argument regarding the philosophical definition of a person only further contradicts his initial claim that "a fetus is not a person"; which we get to in a minute.

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1. Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade (1973)

"Any such "viable fetus" can be and should be able to be aborted until after the second trimester. This is because not only does the fetus not have a fully developed brain (i.e. not self-aware, conscious,etc.) it also can't feel pain since the necessary neural networks haven't developed yet."

My opponents statements continue to contradict the basis of the resolution. He claims that it should be legal to abort a viable fetus "UNTIL after the second trimester"; thereby continuing to reiterate that the limit for legal abortions should only consist of UP TO the end of the second trimester. He attempts to use the lack of cognition and neural networks of the fetus to substantiate his point. This argument is flawed because it only indicates that there should be NO limitation within the fetal period at which to make abortions illegal. In fact, his logic would legalize the killing of not only a full term fetus, but an infant as well. This is affirmed by my opponent's own source:

"Week 38: Organ function continues to improve. Your baby weighs nearly 7 pounds. His or her brain and nervous system are working better every day. This developmental process will continue through childhood and adolescence." (http://www.mayoclinic.com...)

And further supported by the below:

"As will be detailed below, the behavior of the fetus and newborn is likely a reflection of reflexive brainstem activities which are produced in the absence of forebrain-mediated affective or cognitive processing, i.e. thinking, reasoning, understanding, or true emotionality (Joseph, 1996a, 1999; Levene, 1993; Sroufe, 1996). It is the much slower to develop forebrain which generates higher order cognitive activity and purposeful behaviors, and which is responsible for the expression and experience of true emotions including pleasure, rage, fear and joy and the desire for social-emotional contact (Joseph, 1992, 1996ab, 1999; MacLean, 1990).

At birth and for the ensuing weeks, the forebrain is so immature that its influences are limited to signaling distress in reaction to hunger or thirst; a function of the immature hypothalamus (Joseph, 1982, 1992, 1999) in conjunction with the midbrain periaqueductal gray (e.g. Larson, Yajima, & Ko, 1994; Zhang, Davis, Bandler, & Carrive, 1994)." (http://brainmind.com...)

Just because a human being is not conscious or cannot feel pain, I have the right to kill it without repercussion? What of our coma patients? Why is it that they maintain the right to life even though they do not fit your requirements? It's because such arguments lead to absurd ends. That's why the court favors the right to life of a viable fetus. If the fetus can live, then it has the right to do so unabridged by others.

"Unless medical advanced allow the fetus to develop pain receptors and a developed brain (i.e. make it grow faster), then it should be illegal to abort it."

But wait, the fetus could develop those receptors and brain functionality outside of the womb; however, you purpose legalizing the killing of it before it ever has the chance.

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2. Abortion isn't murder

"A fetus, without a working brain, can NOT do any of these things and thus abortion is NOT murder."

Based on the current laws, I've already agreed that abortion is not murder.

Murder:
–noun
1. Law. the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law. (http://dictionary.reference.com...)

My opponent made no attempt to consider the fact that murder is not the ultimate determinant in what is moral or legal, as I pointed out in the second round. He had no retort concerning my statement "I think we can both agree that the killing of an innocent human being should be considered immoral and therefore also illegal." Therefore we must assume that he agrees that innocent human beings should not be killed. As I've already shown, a viable fetus is a human being. My opponent was either unable or unwilling to prove that a viable fetus should be considered guilty (i.e. not innocent). Therefore, we can only assume that my opponent stands unopposed to the idea that a government should not legalize the killing of a viable fetus.

"My opponent's argument fails because he doesn't seem to understand the difference between a "person" and a "human"."

I must disagree. I gave valid definition, supported by the most widely know use of the word "person". You offer a separate definition that I am more than willing to discuss. My opponent claims a person to be "rational and capable of making judgements". Let's roll with that. Again, my opponent's rationale assumes the legitimacy of the legal killing of an infant or coma patient without consequence. Neither of these individuals retains the ability to be rational or capable of making judgments; however, killing either one of these remains immoral and illegal. My opponent's argument for self-awareness and cognition presents a slippery slope that would certainly be detrimental to this country. Therefore, the Court's limitation of viability is superior to these standards. Standards which, again, are contradictory to my opponent's resolution of legalizing abortions UP TO the end of the second trimester.

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Conclusion

My opponent has not only failed to affirm his own resolution based on his numerous contradictory statements, but also managed to completely disregard the majority of my second to last paragraph in the second round. He posed no contest to my arguments regarding the fetus's right to life nor its precedence over the mother's pursuit of happiness. My opponent has provided no convincing arguments that should sway the U.S. legal system away from the current standard of viability in determining the legality of abortions. Therefore, I stand in negation of the resolution's standard of legalizing abortion up to of the second trimester.

I wish my opponent the best in future debates. Hopefully time will permit him to be more thorough.

- CP
Debate Round No. 3
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Vote Placed by Krazzy_Player 10 months ago
Krazzy_Player
TheSkepticCPTied
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Vote Placed by DictatorIsaac 5 years ago
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Vote Placed by CP 5 years ago
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