Debate Rounds (5)
First, what is the proper definition of "abortion"?
": a medical procedure used to end a pregnancy and cause the death of the fetus"
what does the law say about abortion?
After the supreme court ruling of Roe vs. Wade in 1973, abortion became legal in all 50 states up to the third trimester. A mother may also lawfully abort her unborn fetus after the third trimester if it poses serious health risks to her.
There isn't a sound definition to what it means to be considered "alive." Thus, the courts came up with an "age of viability." The age of viability (~24 weeks into pregnancy) is the amount of time it takes for the fetus to reach a developmental stage to survive on its own if it was delivered from the mother's womb. Anything aborted after this 24 week period is not legal unless it poses health risks to the mother.
Thus, my opponents definition is wrong and he hasn't shown that a fetus is "alive" nor considered a human being. Also, the law currently permits abortion.
Back to you con.
This being said, biological definition of life is stated as "(1) A distinctive characteristic of a living organism from dead organism or non-living thing, as specifically distinguished by the capacity to grow, metabolize, respond (to stimuli), adapt, reproduce" .
Before life of a fetus can be argued, it must be explicitly stated that a fetus is a unique human being. In order for a being to be considered human, that being must have unique human DNA. We know that a fetus is formed from the meeting of a sperm and an egg cell. The sperm cell is not in itself genetically unique from the father. The egg cell is not in itself genetically unique from the mother. However, the merging of these two cells forms a being with unique human DNA separate from the mother or father. This scientifically and irrefutably proves the fetus is a unique human being.
Now, a fetus shows scientific signs of life starting with the most simplistic from which other signs can stem (i.e. reproduction, respiration etc.). This foundation is the ability to grow. No being is created in its full potential at the moment of its conception. Everything has a beginning from which, due to growth towards more complex potential, life exists. By the mere fact the fetus is growing from biological simplicity into biological complexity we can soundly say the being must be alive. Biological growth, which a fetus possesses, is the foundation by which life is marked, for without growth, none of the other factors pointing towards life could exist.
Putting this together, we can say the fetus is a unique human being due to its unique human DNA. We can say as well that the fetus is biologically growing, and growth is the foundation from which all life proceeds, therefore the fetus is alive for the fetus grows towards full potential. Then, the fetus must be a living, unique human being who continues to grow towards more and more complex potential.
Next, you state that "The age of viability (~24 weeks into pregnancy) is the amount of time it takes for the fetus to reach a developmental stage to survive on its own if it was delivered from the mother's womb". Id like to focus on the word "SURVIVE". According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to SURVIVE means to "remain alive : to continue to live." Therefore, you are saying that the fetus was indeed alive in the womb before the age of viability thus destroying the argument that life begins at the "age of viability". Something cannot "survive on its own" unless it was alive before it was on its own....that thing alive before it was on its own would be a fetus.
Furthermore, the law would then be stating that the determinant of life would be location of where someone lives. Since age of viability does not determine life, then we have to look at the other factor of the law: being inside or outside of the womb. WHERE someone lives does not determine WHETHER someone lives, therefore it does not matter whether the child is living inside the mother or whether the child is one-hour old and laying in a crib living "on its own." In either case, both are dependent on other people whether they be mothers, fathers, doctors etc and both still have the right to life.
Also, your definition of an abortion states that an abortion results in the "DEATH of the fetus." How can you kill something that is not alive to begin with? By your definition, you would then have to admit the fetus was alive before the abortion because death is the extermination/killing of someone or something that was alive prior.
Legality & lawful legitimacy
The legality of something doesn't mean that it's necessarily true in reality, but it does lend itself legal and lawful legitimacy.
As your opening statement shows, you've argued that abortion is wrong on the grounds that it violates the lawful or inalienable legal rights of the fetus. In round 1 you said:
The inalienable right to life was given by the Declaration of Independence. A legal document.
So essentially, you're trying to show that abortion is wrong by appealing to legal legitimacy. The problem is that abortion is legally legitimate. Here's how:
Laws in the United states operate under the authority of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Due Process clause in the Constitution protects a woman's right to privacy during pregnancy. This gives her the legal right to have an abortion. This leads me to the next section.
A living human being
Con defines life as:
I don't take any issue with this. In fact, I would find it hard to believe if anyone argued that a fetus wasn't "alive". There are many other things that are alive too: fungus, plant life, insects, bacteria, and a host of other single or multi-cellular organisms.
Con argues that a living human being is made the moment that a zygote uses DNA from the mother and father. We've established that this microscopic glob is living, but can it be considered a human being?
Would you consider something without emotion, without consciousness, and without the ability to feel anything as a "living human being"? These distinctly human traits begin to develop during the third trimester as the prefrontal cortex is being formed. Why should something be considered a living 'human being' if the element of 'human-ness' never came into existence?
Furthermore, it's important to make a distinction between living tissue and a living organism. Organs are an example of living human tissue. If a person is declared clinically brain dead his organs can still continue to be alive. So is a fetus better described as living tissue or a living organism?
Here's the definition of an organism:
Since a fetus cannot live on its own until about 24 weeks into pregnancy as it develops its major organs, it cannot maintain its various vital processes without dying. Thus, as the age of viability shows, and along with agreement from the courts, the fetus cannot be considered a separate entity in the sense that they are their own live organism. The fetus is living tissue, and it's made from humans, but it can't be considered a living human being as its own organism nor can it be considered a "human being" philosophically. There are more issues to consider in the next section.
Since con is arguing that abortion is fundamentally wrong, is it still wrong to have an abortion in cases where:
1) The mother will die if she is not allowed to abort her baby
This is actually fairly common. 15 out of every 100,000 pregnancies are ectopic pregnancies that will kill the mother as well as the fetus if she doesn't have an abortion. So either:
A) the mother has an abortion and the fetus dies
B) Both the mother and the fetus dies.
Which is it con?
2) Rape and forced pregnancy
Should we deny a victim of rape her right to abort her forced pregnancy? No doubt, the emotional scars would be intensified with the helpless feeling of having to carry the rapist's baby. Not only that, but some states grant the rapist visitation rights.
3) The baby has terminal deformities due to incest or other causes
We have to think about the life of the future child too. If the child is destined to die young and painfully due to terminal deformities, why is it better to force that child to live out his miserable life and die painfully?
Back to you con.
I am debating whether an abortion is wrong or not. No where in my opening statement did I use the word "law" because law, as you admit, does not always correspond to true reality. When something doesn't correspond with true reality (aka this law) it must, by necessity, be mistaken. However, I will include law in the debate.
Now follow this: by saying, if a law does not correspond with true reality, yet it can hold legal legitimacy based on legality alone, then you are saying legality can create its own reality. Nothing can create its own reality. Either something is or it is not. Now this is difficult to grasp and is a complicated concept. I am directly referring to your first sentence, where you believe a law can be wrong and legitimate at the same time. That seems as if law would be pretty messed up then and might need some re-evaluation....just it had to be re evaluated before (aka laws that supported slavery).
Next, a right goes beyond law. In fact, an inalienable right to life has existed before law was ever created. It preexists any constitution or government. According to your argument, then no human life was valuable before our Founding Fathers signed a document stating a belief in an inalienable right to life. In fact, then according to your own logic, if the inalienable right to life were merely a law invented on the Declaration of Independence, you would have to be ok with all the millions of human beings who have been brutally slaughtered prior to the Declaration of Independence since there was no inalienable right to life that preceded the Declaration of Independence. Obviously, I know this is not the case. And why do I know you are not ok with that? Because "we hold these truths to be self evident." AHHHHH! Sound familiar? Why yes, those are the words preceeding the statements about the inalienable right to life in THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. The creators of the Declaration of Independence themselves knew the right to live had existed before them just as you and I know. A document you just used to show inalienable right to life is merely a law actually disproves your argument within its own text. The founding fathers and their fathers and their fathers knew before us there is an intrisic value to life that must be protected.
Say I am in Antarctica, and am not an American citizen, so there are no American laws to protect me. Someone decides to come up and shoot me in the head. I die. Well according to your law argument, legal legitimacy does not apply therefore I didn't have the right to live. And since Id hope you can admit that I have the right to live, then you also have to admit the right to life extends beyond any mere law. This is the same conclusion the founding fathers came to. They didn't create the inalienable right to life for a human being as a new law, it had always existed before the law.
You state that "The inalienable right to life was given by the Declaration of Independence. A legal document." Well, Im sorry. you my be right that it is a legal document, but the inalienable right to life was not GIVEN or CREATED by us. Actually if I wanted to get technical, then Id say your word "give" implies that there had to a direct object aka something to give. And that something to give had to exist before the document was created, thus reaffirming that the inalienable right to life existed before the Declaration.
Those were about your first three sentences....this might take a bit. But stay with me!
Actually as Ive just shown, I'm not attempting to prove abortion is wrong due to legal legitimacy, rather something that supersedes legal legitimacy: The inalienable right to life. But i have already proven that. The law, in order to be in line with proper reality and not make its own (which is terrible...refer to first paragraphs), must be changed.
I am now referring to your "Due Process Argument." Since I have already proven that the inalienable right to life supersedes any law (even due process), then yet again it applies here. Because you admit the fetus is living, and I can prove the fetus is a human being, therefore the fetus has the inalienable right to life which cannot be taken away...but watch how this does not refute the "Mother will die, fetus will die" argument. Stay tuned for that in a few.
The Fetus has unique human DNA that is different from both the mother and the father, and the fetus has biological growth from biological simplicity to biological complexity. Because the human being has his or her full potential written in the human DNA/genetic code in those initial cells, and you've agreed that fetus is alive due to growth from biological simplicity to biological complexity, then you also admit you know the fetus is growing towards that complexity which is established by the fetus' potential (the potential being prefrontal cortex, ears etc). Now when I say the potential is written in the DNA, obviously the fetus, as i said before, is not created in its full potential, rather the fetus grows towards the biological complexity. So actually you have not concluded anything about the fetus not being a human being. And to be more simple about it, yes i would still consider a human being who doesn't have emotion, feeling, conscience, to be human. Biologically/logically I have proven the fetus to be a living human being.
Also a newborn baby doesn't have a conscience, so does that make the baby not a human being?
BUT MY MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION THAT MUST BE ANSWERED WITH A YES OR NO ANSWER IS THIS:
Would you agree that a person who does not have arms or legs is equally as human as you and I? (Assuming you and I both have both arms and legs)
I will expand upon this after you respond
Here is it less bogged down with complicated rhetoric and argumentation:
A being that is alive, growing towards biological complexity, and has unique human DNA on which biological print is written for the whole life of that being, must be a living human being. This is a scientific fact.
The next argument is about age of viability, organs, tissue etc. So then a tissue cell is the same as a fetus because a tissue ceel is its own unique human DNA and a tissue cell has all the potential to grow into a male adult? Of course not. The tissue cell is made from a preexisting human being so the DNA in not unique. It has the same DNA as the human produced it. Therefore by the same logic, the fetus is indeed better defined as an organism due to biological complexity. The same arguments I have used prior. Once again, nothing is conceived IN its full potential. Rather, fetus is conceived WITH its full potential from which the being grows towards. You have already accepted that the fetus is living, and science irrefutably proves the fetus has human DNA and biological potential, thus making the fetus a living human being. I don't understand the confusion to be entirely honest.
Now for the interesting part:
Your situation where either the mother dies or the fetus dies is a very valid question that is brought up quite often. And here is where we have to weigh culpability. Both are innocent. Both have the right life. This is hard for some people to accept, but, fundamentally, both have the EQUAL right to life. Even the Catholic faith holds that saving the mother would be equally as noble but also inherently equally tragic as saving the child. So in fact, yes, this is the only circumstance where abortion is permissible because two equal innocent lives are at risk. Since their is an inalienable right to life, it would be better to save one innocent life than neither life. And furthermore, choosing either to save to mother or fetus does not make the person morally culpable for this reason:
A good deed is always inherently above/better/higher than a bad deed of equal gravity (in this case killing). The good deed of saving the innocent mother is inherently above/better/higher than the bad deed of having to abort/kill the fetus. I am not contradicting anything I have stated because my overall theme, applied to any situation, is supporting the inalienable right to life. This debate happens to be on abortion. Therefore i should also add saving the fetus would be inherently better then the act of letting the mother die.
The question of rape:
Alright, most importantly, people fail to realize the fetus is not the woman's body. The are two distinctly, unique, living human beings. The DNA of the fetus is different from that of the mother which scientifically shows the body of the mother and the body of the fetus are not one in the same. Therefore, the woman is not only dealing with her body when getting an abortion, but is also dealing with the body of another individual who has a distinctly unique human body.
Furthermore, now that I have shown there are two different human beings when dealing with abortion, it can be said that "The right to swing my fist ends where another mans nose begins." - Oliver Wendell Holmes. The rights of the mother do not extend to infringe on the inalienable rights of another human being. Therefore, abortion would be removing the fundamental right to life from the human being (the fetus).
Also, rape is a terrible thing. But does that mean the child within the mother is guilty? No. The human being (the fetus) had no choice of an action to take, therefore, the fetus has no culpability in this situation. Because the fetus is wholly and completely innocent, then the fetus has the right to life as much as anyone else that cant be taken away.
No one has the choice to freely end the life/kill another innocent human being. It is not the mothers choice to kill the innocent, living human being inside of her.
Also, Fredrick Douglass was conceived of rape. If we recommend abortion to rape victims, then what? Where would society be without him?
I will have to finish this deep and thorough debate in the comment section
Let me condense your contentions
(1) abortion is morally wrong
(2) the inalienable right to life supersedes any law. A fetus has an inalienable right to life.
(3) something is still a human being if it doesn't have emotion, feelings, or consciousness
(4) a fetus is a human being because it grows towards biological complexity and has unique human DNA
(5) abortion should be allowed if the mom or fetus can be saved rather than both dying because we all have a right to life.
(6) a woman that is raped should not be allowed to have an abortion because the fetus is innocent and has a right to life.
I think those were the main contentions placed discussed. I wish I had more time to go through it in better detail.
(1) you never explicitly said "morally" wrong but you argued that abortion was "wrong" apart from the law. Tell me, without invoking God, how can you say that something is morally wrong as if there are definitive moral laws that exist?
(2) this goes back to a "moral law" that is being appealed to. On who's moral authority is someone to argue that someone has a definitive right to life? If these rights arent "given" by any of us humans you must be arguing for a moral law giver. I find it impossible to argue this without a moral authority, such as God. I see no reason to believe that a moral authority exists.
(3) the very essence of being human is consciousness, emotions, and feeling. What difference is there between a stone and a non-consciousness, non-feeling, and unemotional biological structure? Physical composition alone. There's no difference in mental acuity. This bring me back to the question you wanted me to answer: is a human being still a human being if it doesn't have arms or legs? Yes it's still a human being. A brain dead person is still a human being. So is a person with dementia or Alzheimer's. So is a severely mentally retarded person. All of these examples are of people who have had or currently have limited mental acuity. If we abort a fetus before it develops any mental acuity, I don't see how this is analogous to any such examples that might come up.
(4) I'll agree that it's considered a human fetus and that its alive, but I can't consider it to be a "living human being." It has the same mental and emotional acuity as a rock and depends entirely on the mother to sustain itself. Only when the fetus reaches the 24th week it can be considered it's own organism since it can exist apart from the mother. Sure, it has the potential before that 24th week to be its own organism but we shouldn't consider it to be its own organism because of that.
(5) this is interesting because you'll agree that abortion is permissible in some circumstances. Only circumstances where the right to life is possibly being violated. Why stop there though? This is more of a subjective moral issue. I don't see why subjective moral issues ought to determine the rights of others. An atheist mother may see herself as her own moral authority and within her legal right to abort her fetus.
(6) yes it isn't the fetus' fault that it's the product of rape. The pregnancy is just an emotional reminder of the event that led to that pregnancy though. The abortion *could* be traumatic for the mother but why not let the mother choose what's right for her?
1.For everything, there is a standard by which everything else can be relevant towards. For example there is cold, which is the absence of heat. There is a minimum heat capacity by which coldness is measured, which is absolute zero. There is a heat capacity by which heat is measured. So there are certain levels of perfection. If something morally exists, then is there not a perfect standard by which we judge such morality? There must be. Otherwise, our lives our meaningless for nothing can truly be justified or condemned. You can call this perfect standard "God" if you so choose, but there must be, by necessity, some perfect moral standard from which actions can all be judged.
2.If you believe no perfect moral authority/standard exists, then you must admit we should be free to do whatever we wish without repercussion. With no morality, there are no rights, and without rights there would be no true law. So therefore, by believing there is no morality, or that morality is subjective, the Nazi genocides are acceptable and equally permissible for they cannot be held responsible for their wrong actions. However, since obviously the Nazi"s actions were atrocious, it would be well within logical reason to say a perfect moral authority must exist.
3. While these "feelings and emotions and conscience" are essential, all of those things are contained within the potential of the fetus from the moment of conception. A rock doesn"t ever have the potential to grow into the formation of feelings, emotions, and conscience. However, doctors, scientists, and parents know that a fetus will grow into the biological capability of USING a conscience, feeling, and emotion. Therefore, the fetus is different from a rock in essence.
So in order to specify on your sentence that "If we abort a fetus before it develops any mental acuity, I don"t see how this is analogous to any such examples that might come up," I will respond with this.
The fetus inherently possesses potential to use and access conscience/feeling/emotion just as a new born baby possesses potential to use and access conscience/feeling/emotion. However, neither the fetus nor the new born baby can use conscience/feeling/emotion yet because neither has acquired adequate biological complexity. So therefore, a being merely possessing the potential of conscience/feeling/emotion is sufficient in your argument in order to be considered human. However, in reality, humanity exists on a much more fundamental basis.
How does a person have mental acuity? Mental acuity is developed from the growth towards biological complexity in the formation of brain matter, neurons, and chemical processes. Brain matter, neurons, and chemical processes are "physical composition." And because you admit a person without legs and arms is equally as human as you, then you are admitting humanity exists outside of mere "physical composition." So then why would a fetus, by not having the physical composition such as fully developed brain matter, neurons, and chemicals be less human than you? Humanity exists on potential of complex biological growth with unique human DNA, which a fetus has, and also, more importantly, an intrinsic human value that supersedes "physical composition." Because we agree a human without arms and legs is equally as human as you and me, then the intrinsic value of a human is not the number of cells someone has, or a physical composition that science can measure in the lab. Rather, every conceived human being must have an intrinsic value/worth/soul (whatever you choose to call it) that cannot be subject to the body a human being has. What it truly means to be human is based on this intrinsic worth, which a fetus has.
Furthermore, we now can say the fetus/human being is more than a mere organism. Does a flower, an organism, have the fundamental right to life? Or if we step on a bug, is there a culpability by which we must be held to for our actions? Of course not. This is further proof that the fetus, and any living human being, has some intrinsic value that other organisms do not possess, and by which, humans are different in essence form all other organisms.
4.The first portion of this sentence is answered on my last four paragraphs. Now to address "the fetus depends entirely on the mother to sustain itself." The fetus is entirely dependent on the mother for survival. The newborn baby is also entirely dependent on the mother/father/doctor for survival. Autonomy/self-sustaining does not determine human life. "The fetus cannot exist apart from the mother," this is not how the sentence should be stated. The fetus is its own being and therefore exists with INDEPENDENCY. But the fetus survives by being DEPENDENT on the mother. Existing is the act of being, surviving is the act of remaining in existence. So the fetus is two part: Existing by its own being and surviving with dependency on the mother. The fetus has unique human DNA, is living, and has an intrinsic human value, which fundamental rights protect, therefore, just because the fetus cannot be considered independent, does not mean the fetus is not a living human being with the right to live.
5.Abortion is permissible in one circumstance due to the reasons I provided in the last round: When both the mother and fetus will die without receiving an abortion. And, "subjective moral issue"? So if you truly believe whether a fetus/mother lives or dies, is subjective morality, then you must believe whether a Jew/Pol is killed by a Nazi is subjective morality and therefore there is no right or wrong. Then if morality is subjective, the Nazi"s cannot be held responsible for their actions.
However, morality cannot be subjective. There is a right. There is a wrong. And since there are degrees of perfection in what is right and wrong, then there is a moral perfect standard from which actions are judged and weighed. Subjective moral issues do not determine the rights of individuals, because morality is not subjective. Rather, objective moral reality determines the rights of individuals because rights stem from objective morality. Since rights stem from morality, and law stems from rights, then it is reasonable to say laws should be morally true and just. Which in the case of abortion, the law does not uphold the fundamental rights of the living human being that is the fetus, and therefore, the law would also have to be immoral. Anyone can have the opinion that they are their own moral authority, but because objective reality exists outside of opinion, then the atheist mother would be mistaken in saying so.
6.The mother cannot choose to save herself from emotional trauma if the choice will be one that infringes upon the inalienable rights of another human being. Because the abortion deals with the life of two innocent human beings, then the mother cannot choose to end the life of the innocent human being within her. To kill another innocent human in order to save her from an "emotional reminder," no matter how serious the emotional scar, would be a wrong action.
Yes it was very enlightening.
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