The Instigator
cheerboo17
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
MrDelaney
Pro (for)
Winning
8 Points

Abortion

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
MrDelaney
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/7/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 966 times Debate No: 48621
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (33)
Votes (2)

 

cheerboo17

Con

Abortion should be illegal in all cases in the United States of America
*This will be an opinion based debate.
MrDelaney

Pro

I gladly accept.
Thank you, Cheerboo, for setting up the debate.

I will defend the position that abortion should NOT be illegal in all cases in the United States of America.

I feel it's safe to say we both know what is meant by 'abortion,' but just in case I will make it clear that I am assuming a common definition to mean "a deliberate termination of pregnancy."

Although you didn't state it specifically, I'll also assume that Round 1 was intended only for acceptance and allow you to present your arguments first.

I look forward to the discussion.
Debate Round No. 1
cheerboo17

Con

Well my first argument is that when you have an abortion you are killing an innocent child! and since there is no record of when life begins I believe that life begins at conception. and so when you have an abortion you are breaking the law by murdering the child.
MrDelaney

Pro

I could easily take this debate into cases of rape, or incest, but I will resist the low hanging emotionally-charged fruit.
I would like to remind those following along, however, that I only need to argue that abortion should not be illegal in ALL cases.
If there is even one case where abortion should be allowed, then I have met my burden. However, I will actually attempt to go beyond that, and argue that abortion should be legal in any case where the child is not viable outside of the womb.

I would also add that we are not debating morality, but legality, so any notions of what someone 'should' do from a moral standpoint are irrelevant in this case (I don't claim that Cheerboo was saying anything like that, just wanted to clarify the point).


Cheerboo's argument rests on two claims as I see it, the first being explicit and the second being implicit.

1) Life begins at conception.
2) A fetus has a right to it's mother's body.

I will take each of these on their own, but my argument will rest mainly on the second one.

1) LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION.

I will argue that EVEN IF this premise is shown to be true, it is irrelevant if the second premise is shown to be false.
That said, not only do I not grant that life begins at conception, but Cheerboo seems to agree that it is not proved:

"since there is no record of when life begins I believe that life begins at conception"

I will agree with the spirit of the first half of her statement, there is no record of when life begins.
Seeing as we can both agree on that, we are left with only an opinion that she 'believes' life begins at conception.
Without argument to back that up it is nothing more than a bare assertion. Therefore the following statement, that having an abortion is akin to murdering a child, is unsupported.

Regardless, I will argue that my next point will make the issue of when life begins irrelevant to the abortion debate.


2) A FETUS HAS A RIGHT TO IT'S MOTHER'S BODY.

I put forth the idea that we all share a fundamental right to bodily autonomy.
A fetus has no 'special rights' to claim ownership over the resources of it's mother.

If a child requires a blood transfusion or a kidney transplant we do not force parents to give up their own blood or organs for the sake of their child, even if they are the only ones who are a genetic match. Regardless of what we may think a parent 'should' do for their child, we do not, and cannot, force parents to sacrifice their own bodies for the sake of their children. To do so would be to violate the parent's rights to bodily autonomy. Our bodies are our own, and no other human being has a right to lay claim to what we may or may not do with our own bodies. We do not force people to become organ donors through legislation, regardless of what we feel people 'should' do. Bodily autonomy is the right of every person.

The fetus has the same exact rights as a born child does, and as the adult mother does. And those rights do not, and cannot, include laying claim over the body of anyone else. Therefore, unless the child is deemed to be viable outside of the mother's body, it is her right to seek a legal termination of her pregnancy if she so chooses to.




Debate Round No. 2
cheerboo17

Con

cheerboo17 forfeited this round.
MrDelaney

Pro

Seeing as Cheerboo has forfeited his round there is not much left for me to say.

In the end, even if the bodily autonomy argument were deemed to be insufficient on its own, it is clearly sufficient in situations where the mother's life is in danger. In that case, it is sufficient for the burden required in this debate.

I do not feel Cheerboo upheld his proposition.
It is clear that abortion should be not be illegal in ALL cases in the United States of America.

As a closing note, I will say that I am sorry to see this debate end in forfeit, as I was very much looking forward to continuing the conversation and being challenged by any rebuttals. Regardless of the forfeit, I would like to thank Cheerboo for sparking this debate.

And I would like to sincerely thank anyone who has taken the time to read it.

Debate Round No. 3
33 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by mattcat83 2 years ago
mattcat83
I just started an account on this website not but about a week ago. I'm a grad student in philosophy, so I don't have a lot of time for formal debates on the Internet. Nevertheless, I can reply to comments or the like. It's probably a newbie question, but having somebody quickly explain might save me some time in figuring out, but how do I alter my account so as to allow for PMs?
Posted by MrDelaney 2 years ago
MrDelaney
Doh. I just finally got some time and was trying to PM you, as I said I would, and found that I cannot send you PMs. My mistake. Once I gather my thoughts a bit more I suppose I'll simply respond here. Either that, or perhaps we should start a forum thread.
Posted by MrDelaney 2 years ago
MrDelaney
Matt - you've definitely taken the conversation to an interesting place. If you don't mind I may PM you in response, the character limit of the comments doesn't exactly make this the ideal venue.

I think we may see eye to eye on many of these details - the one significant difference we may have is the importance of morality vs legality when it comes to society. To clarify that point let me say that on a personal level I am much more interested in morality than legality, but when it comes to a societal level I feel morality should be secondary. I suppose I lean that way because I value individual freedom above almost all else - so even if there are things which I may personally find immoral, that is not sufficient for me to argue for their illegality (which I guess might depend on what we see as the goals of our legal system).

But as I said, I'll drop you a line in response to your specific points - hopefully we can continue this discussion in a more comfortable venue than having to split our comments up into multiple entries.
Posted by mattcat83 2 years ago
mattcat83
That's the theoretical background. The practical application to abortion is that only non-consensual pregnancies violate the mother's right to bodily autonomy, and even then only those pregnancies that she is not culpable for. There is something despicable about the woman who callously uses even early-term abortions as a form of birth control, which is why conservatives bring it up so much so as to overgeneralize their case. Those who fail to take reasonably adequate measures to prevent a pregnancy when they are under conditions of uncoercive choice are responsible for the consequences of their actions or inactions. We may scold or disapprove of such people while simultaneously upholding their right to do so. They just shouldn't have put themselves in a position where they face the problem of an unwanted birth and terminating it with lethal force. After all, one of the burdens of freedom is that people are free to make mistakes.
Posted by mattcat83 2 years ago
mattcat83
Another way to put this is via the metaphysical thesis we may call "The Unitary Doctrine of the Summum Bonum" or "Highest Good" - there is a unique ideal case deontically accessible to the actual world in which everything that ought to be the case is in fact the case. The acceptance of the doctrine of the highest good entails a denial both of Moral Relativism and also Moral Pluralism; it is a version of what otherwise be called, by contrast with "relativism," "Moral Absolutism." While nobody likes to call themselves an "absolutist," the point here is that the ideal case is real and unique; it is real insofar as it is realizable (i.e. not utopian) and unique insofar as there are no incommensurate values at the fundamental level of grounding. I may give up this principle in the future if it is demonstrably mistaken, yet in the meantime its acceptance seems incompatible with the reality of conflicts of natural rights. Hence, insofar as rights conflict, they do so as a matter of convention or as a matter of us just being confused or mistaken about them.
<http://plato.stanford.edu...;

"The life of the fetus, by its very nature, violates the mother's right to bodily autonomy by using her body to sustain its own life". I would say it is up to the mother whether or not she chooses to allow that violation to continue."

Fraud vitiates consent but informed consent waives rights. Free exchange is predicated upon the consent of the transaction and constitutes a change of ownership rights of property from one person to another. Consent is freely chosen and only in cases of free choice does consent change one's own natural rights. This is how rights work and in this way we can see that all natural rights are grounded in the individual's freedom. The actual rights themselves are constituted by yet not identical with complexes of simple oughts as Thomson gives in her book, "The Realm of Rights."
<http://www.hup.harvard.edu...
Posted by mattcat83 2 years ago
mattcat83
"Viability is the perfect demarcation given that viability is the point where the two rights can become disentangled. Once a fetus is viable outside of the mother it may retain its right to life while the mother may retain her bodily autonomy. If technology advances to move the point of viability earlier that merely means our point of demarcation moves along with it. The goal here should always be to violate as few rights as possible, and using viability as [our] threshold allows us to do that. I would argue that IF a fetus can live without violating the rights of its mother, then there is no good reason not to save that life."

This is a beautiful argument but I don't think I can agree, even though I find nothing disagreeable about it. The reason is ultimately I think conflicts of rights are epistemological and insofar as rights are natural, there are no entanglements. This leads me to the libertarian position, whether I like it or not, that rights if had are inviolable. I was hoping earlier to stay neutral with respect to this issue, but I'm not sure I can, and so the implementation of the infringement/violation distinction would then also be unavailable to me. I've admittedly vacillated on this point, which is a credit insofar as I remain unpersuaded of either side of the dispute over whether rights are inviolable. I learn towards the libertarian side because if rights are natural (not conventional) and if they are reducible to complexes of simple obligations (oughts), then it is logically impossible to have two simple oughts conflict. For them to conflict, it would require the realization of metaphysically incompatible states of affairs, which makes the oughts contradictory.
Posted by mattcat83 2 years ago
mattcat83
"In the case of a non-viable fetus, its 'right to life' is the same as yours or mine - but without the use of its mother's body it is unable to sustain its own life. The death of the fetus at that point is an unfortunate side effect. But, I would say, a necessary one if we are to agree that bodily autonomy trumps all other rights of living beings."

Some would argue that to bring "fair value" to the right of life, a purely negative conception fails, that a right to life entails that positive measure be taken to ensure success. This would then apply to the inviable (non-viable) fetus as the only (currently) practical means of ensuring it would be to carry the baby to term. As stated above, I reject this understanding of the right to life and hold it to be purely negative. However, if you have a positive understanding of it, then this denial is not available to you and you must then explain how it is that the inviable fetus has a right to life if the mother's autonomy rights trump it. I take it that the best explanation for this is by way of the violation/infringement distinction, which is what J.J. Thomson uses as well. On this distinction I remain neutral. Even though I am quite attracted to the elegant simplicity of libertarian philosophy, I am by no means comfortable enough with its practical implications to be so committed to it. Reality is a messy place and morality is quite messier than most other concerns.
<http://en.wikipedia.org...;
<http://www.learnliberty.org...;
<http://en.wikipedia.org...;
Posted by mattcat83 2 years ago
mattcat83
This is also why I take issue with relegating morality to a secondary importance to the law. I don't have such a narrow understanding of morality, rather believing that what is moral is whatever ultimately trumps what. In the category of action, the moral action is whatever we have most reason to do. In the category of emotion, the moral emotion is whichever we have most reason to feel. In the category of belief, the moral belief is whichever we have most reason to believe. In the latter two categories of emotion and belief, it might sound odd to describe certain beliefs or emotions as "moral," because we may hold that whatever is moral is volitional and our beliefs or emotions for the most part aren't volitional. 'Ought implies can' is an axiom of deontic reasoning captured in any modal logic as the D-axiom. Yet this narrowly construes "moral" deontically, which I would resist. While only actions are subject to choice, the goods and bads of the world are not. Virtue and vice are dispositions of character for which agents are responsible to cultivate by habituation the good over the bad. This is the primary goal of an individual's moral life, eudaimonic happiness, the ideal that is intrinsically good from which all other moral goods of the individual have their source.
<http://plato.stanford.edu...;
<http://plato.stanford.edu...;
<http://plato.stanford.edu...;
Posted by mattcat83 2 years ago
mattcat83
"People will always disagree on value judgments."

Although an aside, I'm not sure if this is the case. If everyone were fully informed and ideally rational, then convergence on matters of values would obtain. Many disagreements over other hot topics such as gun laws, foreign policy, and taxation are often more disagreement over empirical facts or whether the implementation of certain policies would be effective in obtaining what is valued, more so than a fundamental disagreement about the underlying values themselves. Of course, disagreement over values may persist beyond full information and in fact obtaining new information seems to allow for new topics to disagree over with respect to one or another value. Yet we must ask if this irreconcilability over values is due to some defect of reasoning or rationality. I don't believe that value judgments outrun our command of the relevant information in totality because I believe that values constitute a part of the facts themselves - there are facts about value. Far from holding that there is a dichotomy between facts and values, some facts just are values - value facts.

This might seem an extreme position to take and would be a separate debate for another time, but nevertheless in the case of abortion, I do believe that there is a fact of the matter as to whether the rights of the (inviolable) unborn conflict with the mother's right to choose whatever she wants with her own body. Ultimately, I believe that the conflict is epistemological and that if they are genuine rights at all, rights had naturally (natural rights), then there are no real conflicts just as there are no true contradictions. So the point of our discussion is to discover (not create) just what those rights are and their limits.
Posted by mattcat83 2 years ago
mattcat83
"How much sense would it make to say we each have a right to life but not to bodily autonomy? This is why bodily autonomy trumps a right to life."

The right to life and the right to bodily autonomy are quite separable, and the law separates all the time. Prison is a good example where people have their right to bodily autonomy severely restricted, while still having their right to life upheld in full. Similarly, we can imagine Jeremy Bentham's perfect prison, the Panopticon, wherein no prisoner has any right to bodily autonomy insofar as every moment of their lives are determined by their masters, the prison keepers, while their masters ensure that no bodily harm befalls any of them. Perfectly Paternalistic (totalitarian) societies attempt to cleave this distinction as well such as that of George Orwell's 1984.
<http://en.wikipedia.org...;
<http://en.wikipedia.org...;

These cases certain degrade the lives of the prisoners, but this is a degradation of the quality of their lives, and not its quantity, that is, whether they are alive. I would argue that a right to life is best understood as a Gestalt concept (either you have it or not) and against the claim that for one to have a right to life, one must pass a certain threshold of subsistence. For example, food stamps are not justifiable on the basis of a right to life, which I think is a purely negative right. This is not to say that food stamps wouldn"t be justified on some other basis (such as social welfare), just not on the basis of the right to life.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Zarroette 2 years ago
Zarroette
cheerboo17MrDelaneyTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro provided solid framework and argument, of which Con never addressed. Conduct to Pro for Con's forfeit.
Vote Placed by Benshapiro 2 years ago
Benshapiro
cheerboo17MrDelaneyTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF and countered what little claims con brought forth.