The Instigator
JoshBrahm
Pro (for)
Winning
22 Points
The Contender
jeeoh
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Does Abortion Kill a Human Being?

Do you like this debate?NoYes+17
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Pro Tied Con
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision - Required
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/22/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,896 times Debate No: 16085
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (70)
Votes (4)

 

JoshBrahm

Pro

I believe abortion kills a human being.

We know the unborn is biologically a member of the human species, because she comes from human parents. Her DNA could also be tested in utero, and we would always find that she has human DNA.

Most pro-abortion-choice people, however, agree with the above statement. Their issue is usually the question of whether the human entity killed is a "person," or a member of our species that has basic rights. The pro-choice advocate will usually point out one of four categories, differences between the unborn and toddlers, to show why it makes sense to treat the fetus differently from the toddler. Those four categories are:
  • Size
  • Level of Development
  • Environment (or location)
  • Degree of Dependancy
This isn't an exhaustive list of the differences, but the majority fall within those four categories.

The problem for the pro-choice advocate is I don't think any of those four differences are morally relevant in the way pro-choice people need them to be. In other words, they don't disqualify you from personhood. Said a different way, I don’t think we should grant basic rights to some humans but not other humans based on what they can do functionally.

Size: Clearly the unborn are smaller than toddlers. ("Thank goodness, exclaimed all the moms.) But does size determine your value? Men are typically bigger than women; does that make men more valuable than women? Absolutely not.

Level of Development: By the nature of what it is, the unborn are less developed than toddlers. But does level of development determine your value? Toddlers are less developed than teenagers; are teenagers more valuable than toddlers? Of course not. I'll respond to a few common Level of Development arguments offered by pro-choice advocates farther below.

Environment or Location: I believe this is the weakest of the four arguments, because where you are has no bearing on who you are. Very few pro-choice advocates believe that simply changing location by 6 inches during the birth process changes who you are, metaphysically. And they're right. If my trip to Trinidad a few years ago didn't change who I am, than 6 inches doesn't either.

Degree of Dependency: The unborn are 100% dependent on the mother's body. Does your degree of dependency determine your value? The unborn are more dependent than toddlers, but toddlers are more dependent than teenagers.

I'll respond to a few common arguments against the personhood of the unborn:

Sentience: The unborn aren't self-aware in the way that we are. Since sentience is so valuable to us now, doesn't it follow that the unborn aren't fully human before they are sentient?

The pro-life view is not that humans become something new after they gain a certain level of sentience. Our view is that humans are moral agents that have the natural inherent capacity to perform basic functions, like think and talk. We don’t believe that you gain more rights once you acquire the present capacity to perform those functions.

My negative argument against the sentience objection is that the "right to life" is a categorical property. You either have it or you don’t. How can you have a categorical property if it’s tied to a property that comes in degrees, like sentience? You can have more or less of that property. (This problem is consistent with all SLED arguments, by the way.)

Also, the criteria that we only give basic rights to sentient humans doesn’t explain why we treat animals that have equal sentience unequally. For example, a cow probably has about the same level of sentience as a 6-month old human, but we don’t treat them the same. Most people don’t cry foul if we feed a human a cow burger, but everyone would cry foul if we fed a cow an infant burger.

The Ability to Feel Pain: I don't the unborn entities can feel pain before 16 weeks, and possibly as late as 20 weeks. (There is still research going on in this field.) But I don't think the ability to feel pain is necessary for personhood. Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis (CIPA) is a rare disorder of the nervous system which prevents the sensation of pain. Are born humans with CIPA less valuable, or less of a "person" than people like me that can feel pain? I don't think so.

The Ability to Breathe: This argument is problematic for several reasons. First, the unborn DO breathe in utero, but they don't use their lungs. They receive oxygen through the umbilical cord. It's after birth that the cord is cut and the newborn begins breathing through his lungs for the first time. It's like switching from AC to DC power.

Secondly, that switch doesn't happen at the moment of birth. Some parents wait as long as an hour after birth, because supposedly more beneficial nutrients in the cord get to the newborn if it's left uncut for a while. If the ability to breathe through the lungs is necessary for personhood, than that newborn spends an hour after birth as a non-person.

In conclusion, the reason I'm against abortion is because I think it's prima facia wrong to kill a human being, and I think the unborn qualify as human beings from the beginning of their life as an individual organism. If it could be proven to me that the unborn actually don't qualify as human beings, than I will no longer oppose abortion.
jeeoh

Con

Essentially when a woman decides to opt for a abortion she is in the early stages of child birth. Within those early stages the child is still of a very small size, and considering yes it has the potential to grow into a fully grown entity, but to whether or not you can class it as a human being in those early stages of development is ridiculous.

The entity within the mothers womb is not conscious of its surroundings or exactly what is happening, it may be aware of a few, but still I could ask you the question of whether you remember being kept in your mothers insides in those first few weeks of child birth and you wouldn't remember. Therefore you cannot really class abortion as "killing". Often mothers have valid reasoning to abortions, and due to that I think it jumps the fence to say that an abortion is to be classed as killing a human being. After-all if we were killing human beings, surely it would be illegal?
Debate Round No. 1
JoshBrahm

Pro

Greetings, Jeeoh! Thanks for being willing to debate such an emotionally charged issue with me.

You said, “essentially when a woman decides to opt for a abortion she is in the early stages of child birth.”
That is only true for a D&X abortion, sometimes called a “partial birth abortion,” which recently became illegal in the U.S.

For the vast majority of abortions that occur during the first trimester, the mother is not in any stage of childbirth. She is partway through a pregnancy, which is interrupted and ended by the killing of the living human entity that I’m arguing is a full human being.

You said: “within those early stages the child is still of a very small size, and considering yes it has the potential to grow into a fully grown entity, but to whether or not you can class it as a human being in those early stages of development is ridiculous.”

Jeeoh, you need to make an argument for your view. See, I made an actual argument that size is not morally relevant to the humanity of the unborn. You simply asserted that size is relevant, and then called my view “ridiculous.”
Let me ask you some questions that will help you make an actual argument for your view:
  • Are toddlers less valuable than teenagers because they’re smaller?
  • Is Shaquille O’Neal more human than Danny Devito?
  • If not, then why do you discriminate against unborn humans based on size? Is it simply ad hoc, or can you make an argument for discriminating against unborn humans based on size, but not other humans?
Moving on. You said, “the entity within the mothers womb is not conscious of its surroundings or exactly what is happening, it may be aware of a few, but still I could ask you the question of whether you remember being kept in your mothers insides in those first few weeks of child birth and you wouldn't remember. Therefore you cannot really class abortion as ‘killing’.”

Your argument proves too much, Jeeoh. Based on your view, I was not a full human with a right to life during the first few weeks of my life outside the womb since I wasn’t conscious of my surroundings.

Are you for or against infanticide? If you’re against, why do you think I had a right to life when I was not conscious during the first few weeks of my life after birth?

You said, “often mothers have valid reasoning to abortions, and due to that I think it jumps the fence to say that an abortion is to be classed as killing a human being.”

Just because someone has emotionally appealing reasons to do something does not mean that their choice is morally justified.

For example, plantation owners had emotionally appealing reasons to own slaves. It was much easier to feed their families if they owned at least one slave. That doesn’t mean abolitionists like William Wilberforce were “jumping the fence” by arguing that slavery violates the basic rights of Africans.

By the way, I’m not comparing aborting women to slave owners. I’m simply illustrating that having an emotionally appealing reason to make a choice does not make or break the moral justification for that choice.

Lastly, you said, “after-all if we were killing human beings, surely it would be illegal?”

You would think so. I think this is a case where the U.S. Supreme Court made the wrong decision based on faulty reasoning. I’ll give you an example of this.

In Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court set aside the question of when biological life begins, because there was a lack of scientific consensus at the time.

So the Supreme Court responded by making abortion legal in all 50 states through all 9 months of pregnancy. (When coupled with Doe vs. Bolton.)

What the Supreme Court should have done is give the benefit of the doubt to life. For example, imagine you’re a hunter in the woods. Some bushes in the distance begin to rustle. It may be a deer; it may be another hunter. Do you shoot right away, or do you wait to be sure it’s not another hunter?

Well, unless you’re Dick Cheney, you don’t shoot!
*rimshot*

I think more people are becoming aware of the science of fetal development through things like 4D ultrasounds.
http://www.4d-ultrasounds.com...

I also think more people are realizing the pro-life position has more explanatory power than the pro-abortion-choice position. As more people realize this, we’ll reach a point where our society collectively decides to protect the unborn humans that up until then have been discriminated against.

As I’ve argued already, your humanity is not determined by your size, level of development, environment or degree of dependency. The embryo you once were is the same being as the teenager you are today. As an embryo, you were simply younger and less developed.
jeeoh

Con

Yes teenagers are more valuable than toddlers. Teenagers possess more valuable knowledge and life experience than and toddler would, and the fact that a toddler is unable to perform any ability of manual labour goes to show that they are not as valuable (in the eyes of the economy) as teenagers.

No I am not a supporter of infanticide. Once a child is born it then receives its rights based on law, and taking that child's life is against law. But there is no "life" when a woman decides to opt for an abortion. The fetus has had NO experiences that can benefit its community social, economically or legally.

Additionally if a woman feel that an abortion is the right thing to do, she is morally RIGHT in what she is doing, because she believes it is the correct thing to do. If she is aborting on the basis of a child's future development being predicted to be difficult based on the abnormalities the fetus may have then surely aborting the fetus is be saved, rather than kill.

You mention so much about discrimination. There is not unfavorable treatment be implied on unborn fetus's. They aren't being aborted because they're white, black, orange or blue. They're being aborted because woman have that right to abort. If a woman feels that she is not fit to be a mother and would rather the fetus be removed instead of going through the hassle of carrying the child, it is her choice. We as people cannot dictate the choices a person makes, regardless of whether we feel that their choices are wrong, it is not our RIGHT to intervene, as they're the person who will live with the consequences of that choice for the rest of their life.

I understand why your evidence suggests that we may be killing human beings through abortion, but its not your decision to intervene when a mother feels that she wants to abort. Its not your DNA, its not your fetus. So what says that you should be allowed to choose whether a woman aborts or not. The unborn fetus is of no benefit to the community and it's certainly not having much taken from it as its not even conscious of what is happening. But yes there is the potential for that being to become more than just a fetus, but instead of thinking about what it can be, think about what is happening. If the mother feels she needs to abort, then let her do so, and don't slander her with a headline of killing a human being. She hasn't displayed any evidence of sociopathic or psychopathic traits which sciences uses to define a "killer", she doesn't "kill" for pleasure, she aborts with reason, and if a mother can justify her reason and stand by that then she is the one morally right.
Debate Round No. 2
JoshBrahm

Pro

Hey Jeeoh, I’m glad to see you’re making some arguments for your view. I think it’s a little confused though. Have you thought about this issue much? Maybe I can help. I believe we’re all on a journey to learn more true things. Let’s take that journey together, shall we?

You said, “no I am not a supporter of infanticide. Once a child is born it then receives its rights based on law, and taking that child's life is against law.”

Is there an actual reason that infanticide is morally wrong besides the fact that it’s against the law? If so, please explain that argument to me.

If your view is that the only reason killing toddlers is wrong is because it’s illegal, then you’re defending a view called “legal positivism.” It’s the idea that morality is grounded in the law, not some higher source. The view is very problematic though.

According to your profile, you are against the death penalty. But if you’re a legal positivist, it seems that you would have to agree that the death penalty is moral in the states that it is legal, and immoral in the states where it is illegal.

According to your profile, you are against late term abortions. (I don't know why.) Were you against late term abortions before they became illegal?

If all abortions become illegal, will you become pro-life? After all, a human being would “receive its rights based on law,” and taking that human beings life would be against the law.

Moving on. You said, “but there is no "life" when a woman decides to opt for an abortion. The fetus has had NO experiences that can benefit its community social, economically or legally.”

When you say there is no “life,” do you mean biological life, or life experiences? If having experiences that benefit our community is necessary for personhood, than newborns don’t have it.

Neither do a lot of teenagers, so you should really avoid this argument.

You said, “additionally if a woman feel that an abortion is the right thing to do, she is morally RIGHT in what she is doing, because she believes it is the correct thing to do.”

So your argument for abortion rights here is that some women want to have abortions, so it must be right. Were slave owners morally right to own slaves, simply because they believed it was the correct thing to do?

You said you’re against infanticide. What if I believe it’s morally RIGHT to kill my infant? Would you try to stop me? Why? Please be specific.

You said, “if she is aborting on the basis of a child's future development being predicted to be difficult based on the abnormalities the fetus may have then surely aborting the fetus is be saved, rather than kill.”

I agree that some humans that are aborted would have grown up with difficult life circumstances. So why don’t we do this, since we’re obviously both concerned for people that live in difficult circumstances. Let’s not stop at fetuses. Let’s kill all humans that are age 3 or younger, IF they are or will have difficult life experiences. I mean, some horrible parents physically abuse their toddlers! Let’s go kill them so they don’t have to experience it anymore.

Oh, and if you respond that “killing the toddlers would be illegal, and thus wrong,” I can simply alter my argument by suggesting we first legalize infanticide, and then shoot all the abused toddlers. Problem solved.

You said, “you mention so much about discrimination. There is not unfavorable treatment be implied on unborn fetus's.”

Really? There is NO unfavorable treatment being impled for fetuses? Do you mean besides the fact that we’re legally allowed to tear them to pieces, but not older kids?

Definition:
Discriminate: "the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently."

You said, “[fetuses] aren't being aborted because they're white, black, orange or blue.”

I agree with that. But you can be discriminated against in ways that aren’t racial. For example, women were discriminated against when we didn’t allow them to vote. In some jobs today, they still can’t make as much money as men. That’s gender discrimination. Whether you like it or now, you ARE discriminating against unborn fetuses. The question before us is, “are you justified to discriminate against the unborn based on your arguments.” So far, the answer is a resounding “no.”

You said, “we as people cannot dictate the choices a person makes, regardless of whether we feel that their choices are wrong, it is not our RIGHT to intervene, as they're the person who will live with the consequences of that choice for the rest of their life.”

Ok. Then let’s take your view to its natural conclusion, and legalize rape. After all, you can’t “dictate the choices a person (rapist) makes, regardless of whether we feel that their choices are wrong, it is not our RIGHT to intervene, as they're the person who will live with the consequences of that choice for the rest of their life.”

You said, “I understand why your evidence suggests that we may be killing human beings through abortion, but its not your decision to intervene when a mother feels that she wants to abort.”

You know, I love finding common ground with people that disagree with me, but I’ll admit, I had no idea that in a public debate my opponent would agree that my evidence suggests the case I’m making is correct. But you are correct. My evidence is much stronger.

You said, “its not your DNA, its not your fetus.”

Try this:
- It’s not your DNA, it’s not your slave.
- It’s not your DNA, it’s not your rape victim.

See the problem?

You said, “the unborn fetus is of no benefit to the community and it's certainly not having much taken from it as its not even conscious of what is happening.”

Agreed, and neither are newborns. You need to argue why life experiences and consciousness gives you the right to life.

“If the mother feels she needs to abort, then let her do so, and don't slander her with a headline of killing a human being.”

I’m slandering her by describing what the evidence (that you agree with) that her actions are killing a human being/person?

Lastly, you said, “she hasn't displayed any evidence of sociopathic or psychopathic traits which sciences uses to define a "killer", she doesn't "kill" for pleasure, she aborts with reason, and if a mother can justify her reason and stand by that then she is the one morally right.”

I don’t think most aborting women have sociopathic or psychopathic traits. I think 64% of aborting women were coerced into it.[1] I think most of the others don’t realize that the unborn qualify as persons. In essence, they don’t know better.

Summary: This debate is focused around the question, “does abortion kill a human being?” (For the purposes of this debate, “human being” = “human person.”) I have provided arguments and evidence that the unborn are human beings. (Evidence you seem to agree with.)

Your only counter arguments so far against my conclusion are:
1: abortion is legal, and therefore right.
2: no one should tell someone else what to do.
3: The fetus does not benefit society.
4: The fetus is not conscious.

As I have demonstrated, all four of your arguments fail.

Citations:
1: VM Rue et. al. "Induced abortions and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women," Medical Science Monitor 10(10):SR5-16 (2004).
jeeoh

Con

jeeoh forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
JoshBrahm

Pro

My opponent has apparently not only forfeited the debate, but has actually cancelled his entire account at Debate.org. That's a win if I've ever heard one. My only regret is setting this to 5 rounds. Vote Pro.
jeeoh

Con

jeeoh forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
JoshBrahm

Pro

Vote Pro. Also, consider reading my current debate with a much stronger pro-abortion-choice opponent. Click on my profile to find it.
jeeoh

Con

jeeoh forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
70 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by batman1200 5 years ago
batman1200
sorry about my bad grammar
Posted by batman1200 5 years ago
batman1200
i understand but i do not agree. disregarding the earlier comment about arresting the would be mother for murder, my stance it that it does not matter that the child it or is not a human at that point. I meant that even if the child is not a human, i will be, and quite soon. So because no matter what it will become a human, and not anything else, then it is murder and morally wrong
Posted by JoshBrahm 5 years ago
JoshBrahm
I'm still a little fuzzy on where you're going with this. I don't think the unborn become human later; they are human from fertilization. But if the pro-choice advocate was right, that the unborn experience a qualitative change in the kind of being they are at some point like birth, than abortion would be morally acceptable. Does that help?
Posted by batman1200 5 years ago
batman1200
ammendment, sorry
Posted by batman1200 5 years ago
batman1200
and yes, i am pro gun rights (second commandment rights)
Posted by batman1200 5 years ago
batman1200
i said that an unborn child, or whatever the abortionist call it at that time, may not be classified as a "human", it will undoubted be a human one day. So my question was should we arrest them once we (and by we i meant the police) find that they had an abortion, or wait about nine months or until the approximate birth date?
Posted by JoshBrahm 5 years ago
JoshBrahm
I don't understand your question. Can you expand on it?
Posted by batman1200 5 years ago
batman1200
bottom line, weather or not the child is "classified" as a human, it WILL be one, and that is the difference. Are you then saying that we should wait about 9 months THEN arrest the (would be) mother for murdering an infant?
Posted by JoshBrahm 5 years ago
JoshBrahm
Thanks, Cliff! I'll keep that in mind.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Josh, you can set restrictions on who can accept your debate. Forfeits are more of a problem with new members.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
JoshBrahmjeeohTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Unfortunate, default win.
Vote Placed by KeytarHero 5 years ago
KeytarHero
JoshBrahmjeeohTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit, but better arguments from the Pro side.
Vote Placed by BennyW 5 years ago
BennyW
JoshBrahmjeeohTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit, and Josh had better arguments to begin with.
Vote Placed by XimenBao 5 years ago
XimenBao
JoshBrahmjeeohTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit