The Instigator
Weave77
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
ArcTImes
Con (against)
Winning
2 Points

Birth is an arbitrary dividing line between personhood and non-personhood.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
ArcTImes
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/24/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,393 times Debate No: 59486
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (23)
Votes (2)

 

Weave77

Pro

It is my contention that birth is an arbitrary dividing line between personhood and non-personhood, and thus, there is no moral difference between abortion and infanticide.

This is my first DDO debate, and I would like to thank my opponent in advance for accepting this debate. I will be arguing as Pro. The first round is for acceptance, and we shall begin the discussion in round two.

Personhood: The quality or condition of being an individual human being.

Infanticide: The practice of killing a newborn human infant.

Abortion: The deliberate termination of a human pregnancy.
ArcTImes

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
Weave77

Pro

I would like to begin this debate by accomplishing two things.

First and foremost, I sincerely thank Con for accepting this debate.

Secondly, in order to clear up any potential confusion, I am making a slight amendment to the provided definition of abortion, changing it from “the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy” to “the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy resulting in the death of the fetus(es)”.

Statement

Personhood, or the lack thereof, is the prime determination as to whether or not a death falls inside or outside of established moral bounds. Therefore, if it can be determined that the use of birth as the dividing line between personhood and non-personhood is arbitrary, than there can be no moral difference between abortion and infanticide.

Arguments

1. There is no consensus on when personhood is attained.

a) At conception

There are many people, especially those belonging to particular religious faiths (Evangelistic Christian, Catholic, etc), who believe that personhood is attained at conception. For instance, the official stance of the Catholic church is that the fertilization of a human egg is the "moment that marks the beginning of the existence of a new 'human being'". [1]

Those who support personhood status at conception contend that since the zygote has a complete and unique human genetic code, it is just as much an individual human being as anyone else, and should be afforded the same rights as any other being with personhood. [2]

b) During the pregnancy

Other contend that a fetus is considered a person after a particular milestone during uterine development. These include, but are in no means limited to:
  • After the embryo has implanted in the uterine wall.
    • - Since the embryo is now actively sending "hormonal messages that we can receive" it is now a person. [3]
  • After the embryo has passed the period where it could segment.
    • - Now that is no longer has the ability to branch off into multiple organisms, it is now a person. [4]
  • After the fetus begins to develop a central nervous system and/or brain.
    • - Just as it's cessation to function indicates death, it's beginning indicates life. [5]
  • After four months of gestation.
    • - According to the majority of Islam, this is the point at which the fetus receives a soul and is thus a person. [6]
  • After the fetus has developed a heart beat.
    • - Similarly to brain function, a heart beat, in many views, is the indicator of life. [7]
  • After the fetus is viable.
    • - Given that a fetus can survive at this point outside of the womb, it has achieved personhood. [8]

c) After infanthood

Numerous doctors and philosophers have stated that personhood is not obtained until well after birth.

For instance, renowned ethicist Peter Singer stated that an infant should not be considered a person until at least 30 days after birth, as there was "no ontologically significant difference between the fetus and a newborn". [9] He contended that since infants were incapable of "seeing themselves as distinct entities, existing over time" they were not persons. [10]

Similarly, Dr. Alberto Giubilini and Dr. Francesca Minerva stated in an article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics that "both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons". They claimed that as only an "individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her" should be considered a person, and consequently, "after-birth abortion" was not only moral, but potentially beneficial to society as a whole. [11]

2. Many specifically argue that birth is NOT when personhood is achieved.

Many contend that there is no fundamental change upon a infant's personhood during or immediately after it's exodus from it's mother's body. There is no change in the cognition levels, size, or absolute dependency upon another (be it mother or surrogate) for survival once the fetus is born.

Given those facts, Peter Singer stated that “the liberal search for a morally crucial dividing line between the newborn baby and the fetus has failed to yield any event or stage of development that can bear the weight of separating those with a right to life from those who lack such a right.” [12]

Ann Furedi, the CEO of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, put it very plainly by saying that "there is nothing magical about passing through the birth canal that transforms it from a fetus to a person". [13]

Conclusion

Given that there is no agreed upon moment as to when a non-person zygote/fetus/infant becomes a person, and the use of birth as that philosophical divide is specifically disputed, it can be assumed that abortion and infanticide are morally equivalent.


Sources

[1] http://catholiceducation.org...
[2] Rice, Charles (1969). The Vanishing Right to Live. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc. pp. 29–31.
[3] Nathanson, Bernard N. M.D.; Ostling, Richard N. (1979). Aborting America. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc. p. 216.
[4] Bullough, Bonnie; Bullough, Vern L. (1994)."Catholic Attitudes Toward Sexuality:Abortion". Human sexuality: an encyclopedia. New York: Garland Pub. p. 89. ISBN 0-8240-7972-8. Retrieved 2008-12-07.
[5] http://jme.bmj.com...
[6] "(The matter of the Creation of) a human being is put together in the womb of the mother in forty days, and then he becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period, and then a piece of flesh for a similar period. Then Allah sends an angel who is ordered to write four things...then the soul is breathed into him"
Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:54:430
[7] http://www.opednews.com...
[8] http://www.slate.com...
[9] http://www.equip.org...
[10] Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 171, 188.
[11] http://jme.bmj.com...
[12] Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2d ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 142.
[13] http://www.battleofideas.org.uk...;

ArcTImes

Con

Introduction

I thank Pro for his arguments.
I will use this round to present my rebuttals

Burden of Proof

I want to clarify that Pro has the burden of proof because he is the instigator and he is making the positive claim that:

"birth is an arbitrary dividing line between personhood and non-personhood, and thus, there is no moral difference between abortion and infanticide."

This is the complete resolution. The one that it's in the title is incomplete due to space.

I only have to rebut his arguments or find a flaw on his main logic to win.

Logic behind the resolution

The resolution presents a really simple logic:

A then B.
A = Birth is an arbitrary dividing line between personhood and non-personhood.
B - There is no moral difference between abortion and infanticide.

Notice that there are 3 things Pro has to prove in order to fulfill his BoP:

1. That A is true.
2. That B is true.
3. That there is a connection between A and B and that A causes B.

I will win if I'm able to refute any of the points.

Change of the definition

I don't accept the change of definition. I accepted the debate with the definition presented in the first round.
I can still win with the new definition, but I still find dishonest to change the already proposed definition in the middle of the debate.

Rebuttals

1. There is no consensus on when personhood is attained

Pro starts his arguments claiming that different people and different sciences have different opinions on when personhood is attained.



The problem here is that Pro's evidence and explanations are related to life. Sadly, life is not enough to make a person.
The spermatozoon and the egg are alive before conception, and those are not people. This is just an example.
Another thing important to note is that "human" is not the same as "a human".

2. Many specifically argue that birth is NOT when personhood is achieved

This is the first point that seems to be more related to personhood because it's already known that the fetus is alive, but when it's a person is not known.
Here I will concede the first point to Pro even if the first part of his argument was not useful for his position.

Sadly, having only the 1st point is not enough to fulfill his BoP. Here I will show why it's impossible for Pro to win.

Arguments

1. Even if the embryo/fetus was a person since conception, abortion and infanticide are morally different

This is my attack to the third point about the relation between A and B.
I will use the same argument I use to defend abortion in general: The bodily righs' argument.

The bodily rights' argument states that the woman has the right to control her own body and that others can't force her to do with her body what she doesn't want.

This doesn't mean that she could kill a person just because it happens to reside in her body but she is able to decide if she donates or not part of her body, like organs or her womb.

For that reason, a fetus can't use the body of a woman, even if this fetus had all the rights of a person. The fact that in early term abortion, the fetus dies, is because it is not able to survive without the woman.

2. Abortion is not murder

This is my attack to the second point. B is false, abortion is not murder.
Even without the bodily righs' argument, the position of Pro fails with an easy example.

The definition of abortion proposed in the first round by Pro is:

"The deliberate termination of a human pregnancy."

Caesarean section is the late termination of a pregnancy that doesn't kill the fetus. C-section is a form of late term abortion.

3. Infanticide has a definition that doesn't make sense in Pro's logic

The definition of infanticide is "The practice of killing a newborn human infant." from the proposed definitions on the debate.
Here Pro just killed his own position.
Newborn is defined as "recently or only just born." [1]

So you could do an infanticide against a person after his birth. And abortions are practiced before the birth.

Conclusion

After those 3 arguments there is no reason to think Pro can defend his position anymore.
I thank Pro for the debate.
Vote CON.

Sources

1. http://dictionary.reference.com...


Debate Round No. 2
Weave77

Pro

I would like to thank Con for his arguments and his rebuttals.

I would also like to apologize for any ill-will that I may have caused for my slight amendment to the definition of abortion before beginning of the debate. My only intention was avoid any potential confusion that an inadequate definition might have caused.

Here it is again for reference, with the amendment in italics: “Abortion: The deliberate termination of a human pregnancy resulting in the death of the fetus(es).”

I am confident that my opponent understands, as he has himself proposed definitions after the start of debates on multiple occasions, even after his opponent has already presented his/her opening arguments. [1][2][3]


Answer to Con’s Rebuttals

“The problem here is that Pro’s evidence and explanations are related to life. Sadly, life is not enough to make a person”

I am sorry that this is a saddening thought to Con. Fortunately, however, the evidence that I presented dealt not with the spontaneous eruption of life from nothingness, but rather with exact stage that a zygote/embryo/fetus/infant achieved personhood. Occasionally, the word life is used indicating human life… ie personhood. I encourage Con to view my sources if any confusion remains.

Regardless, Con graciously conceded my first point (birth is an arbitrary dividing line between personhood and non-personhood)- an important fact of which I would ask the voters to take note.


Rebuttals

“I will use the same argument I use to defend abortion in general: The bodily righs' argument. The bodily rights' argument states that the woman has the right to control her own body and that others can't force her to do with her body what she doesn't want.”

I would argue that a woman DOES have the right to control her own body- as long as her control doesn’t directly lead to the death of another life form with personhood status. For example, my wife can control her body as she pleases, so she occasionally drinks alcoholic beverages. However, if the activity caused her kill a pedestrian while driving intoxicated, her right to her personal bodily control would not exonerate her. Basically, the right of an innocent person to live trumps a woman’s right to control of her body.

“This doesn't mean that she could kill a person just because it happens to reside in her body but she is able to decide if she donates or not part of her body, like organs or her womb.”

This statement is contradictory. Con says that she has no right to “kill a person just because it happens to reside in her body”, but that she can decide whether or not to “donate” her womb. By definition, if she decides against her donation, the fetus WILL die. And, as I would like to remind you, Con conceded my first point, which was based on the premise that many believe fetuses to be persons- thus her decision not to donate her womb would indeed kill a person just because it happened to reside in her body.

"Abortion is not murder"

This is a straw man argument, as I never argued that either abortion of infanticide are murder- rather, that they are morally equivalent. Whether they are both murder or both rational and morally justifiable acts is something that I would leave up to the readers of this debate to decide.

"Infanticide has a definition that doesn’t make sense in Pro’s logic."

I will provide my definition again for reference: "Infanticide: The practice of killing a newborn human infant."

Perhaps it is my own ignorance, but I fail to see what “doesn’t make sense”. I ask that Con explain in detail what fault he sees in either the definition or my logic.


Conclusion

I greatly admire Con’s zeal for the topic, but I failed to see him make any serious arguments that either supported his side of the debate or contradicted my side. I eagerly await his second round rebuttals and ask that you refrain from making up your minds on which side to cast your votes until all of our arguments are made.

[1] http://www.debate.org...

[2] http://www.debate.org...

[3] http://www.debate.org...

ArcTImes

Con

Introduction

I want to thank Pro for his round.
I will present my own now.

Change of definition

I don't accept the change of definition. First, what your opponent does in past debates are not relevant to a debate you are doing now. Maybe I changed my mind or now I know I did something wrong. Second, those debates where I proposed definitions after the first round are debates where the instigator didn't propose definitions. Definitions are necessary for debates so I proposed mine. Because there were no acceptance, they are free to challenge my definitions.
In this case you are changing the definitions and I have the right to accept or not. And I don't accept the change. I already accepted the definition of the first round and it will stay.

Rebuttals

1. The bodily rights' argument

Pro doesn't understand the bodily rights' argument. He uses an analogy of drinking and driving. But this analogy fails. Abortion is not killing the fetus, abortion is terminating the pregnancy. When a woman decides to terminate her pregnancy, it just means that she is deciding to stop being pregnancy. The fact that the fetus dies is a fact of nature. There are cases of abortion like c-section where the child lives.

The Pro implies that not donating your body means killing someone. Here is where Pro totally lost the debate. You don't kill someone by not donating your body. Right now everybody is commuting murder then, which is ridiculous. There is a lot of people that need organs and you have the right to say "NO" to that donation. It's your body, you control it.

And I never claimed that "abortion is murder" was part of Pro's arguments. I just claimed that the only way abortion and infanticide have no difference in morality with using Pro's argument is if abortion was the killing of one person to another (aka murder), which is not.

2. Infanticide definition

"Infanticide: The practice of killing a newborn human infant."

It doesn't make sense because infanticide is about killing a "newborn". Someone that is alive after birth. Abortion, by definition is practiced while there is a pregnancy and not after the pregnancy. In that case, Pro already lost the debate in the first round with his own definition.

Conclusion

Pro has not presented a compelling case for his position.
Con was able to debut the last 2 points of the main logic
Pro's definition of infanticide already makes impossible to meet the BoP for Pro.

Thanks, vote Con.
Debate Round No. 3
Weave77

Pro

Weave77 forfeited this round.
ArcTImes

Con

I extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 4
23 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
I suggest requesting a rematch... Or even a re-posting of arguments.
Posted by ArcTImes 3 years ago
ArcTImes
Well, you just played with fire there, then.
Posted by Weave77 3 years ago
Weave77
I tried to post it with over a minute to go!
Posted by Weave77 3 years ago
Weave77
When I hit "Review your argument" it just says "Enter your argument"
Posted by ArcTImes 3 years ago
ArcTImes
The time is over lol.
Posted by Weave77 3 years ago
Weave77
It won't let me post my final argument!
Posted by Weave77 3 years ago
Weave77
Posted with 2 minutes and 7 seconds to go... take that procrastination.
Posted by ArcTImes 3 years ago
ArcTImes
lol
Posted by Weave77 3 years ago
Weave77
Yeah, this time I'm gunning for 15 seconds lol. Seriously, though, I felt like I was sniping a low bid on Ebay.
Posted by ArcTImes 3 years ago
ArcTImes
Are you going to try to beat the 20 seconds record? haha
I would be totally scared to try that.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 3 years ago
Ragnar
Weave77ArcTImesTied
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit... In future I advise against citing debates on here.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 3 years ago
9spaceking
Weave77ArcTImesTied
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: ff