The Instigator
KaleBevilacqua
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
unitedandy
Con (against)
Winning
12 Points

Elective abortion should be legalized

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
unitedandy
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/2/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,217 times Debate No: 48203
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (9)
Votes (3)

 

KaleBevilacqua

Pro

Who wants to debate me up in here?
unitedandy

Con

Preliminary remarks


First, I want to thank Pro for setting up this debate. I’ve actually been wanting to debate abortion again for a while, so it’s great to get this opportunity. Given that this is a 5 round debate, I’ll just use this an introductory round to lay the groundwork for our discussion.


Definitions

Given that Pro declined the opportunity to do so, I’ll provide some brief definitions.

Abortion - "The deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks"

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...



Elective abortion - "An elective abortion is the interruption of a pregnancy before the 20th week of gestation at the women’s request for reasons other than maternal health or fetal disease."

http://www.britannica.com...


Legalized - "to allow (something) by law"

http://www.merriam-webster.com...

For simplicity, I propose "abortion" be used synonymously with elective abortion. As such the focus of the debate, per Pro's insistence, will be primarily on its general use, and not on extreme cases like anencephaly and so on.


Debate framework

It seems to me that Pro's use of "should" implies that the main concern for both of us should be the moral implications of our views. As such, I will defend the view that abortion is generally morally impermissible. I assume Pro will be arguing for the moral permissibility of abortion. Whomever can present and defend the best case for their respective view should be considered the victor.

With that, there's nothing left to say except thanks again to Pro and good luck!

UnitedAndy




Debate Round No. 1
KaleBevilacqua

Pro

First of all, what makes killing unethical?
-You're inflicting pain.
-The victim can experience mortal danger and objects to the death.
-You are taking the victim away from loved ones who will mourn.

Fetuses fulfill none of those criteria:
-There is this thing called Electroencephalography (EEG), which records brain activity. EEG suggests the capacity for functional pain perception in fetuses probably does not exist before 29 or 30 weeks (a point after which abortion is rare and illegal); this study asserted that withdrawal reflexes and changes in heart rates and hormone levels in response to invasive procedures are reflexes that do not indicate fetal pain.
-Likewise, there are no detectable brain waves that would translate to fear until that number of weeks (again, rare and illegal). An abortion after that point only happens under special circumstances (such as when it's killing the mother or has serious defects that will kill it), and the fetus is euthanized before a 3rd-trimester abortion, meaning it feels none of the abortion.
-And of course, fetuses don't have loved ones who are going to mourn. Common sense.

So really, taken in total, aborting a fetus is like choosing to swat an obnoxious fly buzzing around, or like parents choosing to pull the plug on their braindead vegetable child. No harm done.

And then there's bodily autonomy. It's the most important argument because it"s bulletproof, really. Bodily autonomy is an unwritten law that says no one can use your body without your consent, which is why (most) humans automatically understand why rape is wrong and why you have to be an organ donor in life for your organs to be taken after your death. Fetuses do not have bodily autonomy because they are not autonomous. Perhaps you'll rebut this by accusing me of ableism, because many disabled people are dependent on others. But disabled people are still autonomous, because they are sentient beings and don"t live inside the body of another person and suck up their nutrients. If abortion is illegal, dead people will officially have more rights than pregnant people (because a dead person"s organs can"t be used if they aren"t an organ donor).

Booyah! Looking forward to your rebuttals.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
http://www.sciencedirect.com...
unitedandy

Con

Introduction


In this round, my main focus will be to present and defend the Future-Like-Ours (FLO) argument against the moral permissibility of abortion from philosopher Don Marquis (1). Given that this is my first debating round, I’ll leave Pro’s affirmative argument for abortion (the case of bodily rights) to the next round. However, I will have to engage with his first argument regarding the morality of killing in this round, as it directly challenges my case for the moral impermissibility of abortion.


The case for the moral impermissibility of abortion


I’d like to start, as Pro did, by asking what makes killing in general morally wrong?


What’s morally wrong with killing?


To begin, I want to ask, as Pro does, what makes killing generally morally wrong. In order to determine this, following Marquis, it is necessary to provide a range of cases where the the right to life seems prima facie warranted:


A) the unborn

B) infant

C) suicidal teenager

D) temporary comatose patient

E) You or me



Obviously, case A above is where the dispute lies. I include it however because any general account for the wrongness of killing will have something to say about case A.


The challenge this argument proposes for Pro and myself is to provide a general account for the wrongness of killing with respect to B-E that supports our view of case A. In other words, both Pro and I must give an account of the wrongness of killing which can satisfy the 4 examples that (I assume) we'd agree each has a right to life (i.e. not to be killed) and preserve our view of case A.


Any view which fails this task simply cannot be a general account for the wrongness of killing. If Pro wants to deny that she has to account for cases B-E, she will have to present an argument to defend such a view, as killing in these cases is clearly prima facie morally wrong.


Finally, note that while I merely have to provide a sufficient condition for the wrongness of killing for cases A-E, Pro must provide an account which is necessary. In other words, if killing can be wrong for numerous reasons, Pro has to exhaust avenues to show that none of these apply to case A. Any general account of B-E which could then apply to case A provide a potential defeater for Pro’s view, giving she seeks to exclude the unborn from the right to life.


Where relevant, alternate similar examples can be used to show the general wrongness of killing. Whatever account provides the best justification for these examples will determine why killing is generally morally wrong, and in doing so, whether abortion is prima facie seriously morally wrong.



Pro’s account of the wrongness of killing



Helpfully, Pro gives her own account of the wrongness of killing in her first post. She identifies 3 possibilities to address the challenge

1. the infliction of pain


2. The victim experiencing mortal danger and objecting to death


3. Harm to loved ones of the victim


It is trivially easy to undermine the first condition. Painless murder methods, killing a CIPA patient and ending someone’s life while they’re in an altered state of consciousness are 3 obvious defeaters to the criteria of pain.


As for harming the loved ones of a victim, what about cases of murder involving a hermit or an unloved orphan? Again, a general account for the wrongness of killing can’t be so precarious as to demand a third party be wronged, so this point is easily swept aside.


Option 2 is somewhat better, although “mortal danger”, again is simply too narrow to apply generally. Plenty of victims do not experience this, yet it is obviously wrong to kill them.


As such, the only possibility left for Pro is that the victim “objects to the death”. In other words, Pro’s account is basically desire-centred. Death robs the victim of their (most basic) desire to continue living in the most egregious way possible, therefore, it is prima facie wrong. Furthermore, the unborn do not posses such a desire and cannot object to death. As such, killing a foetus simply isn’t wrong.

So how well does Pro’s account do at tackling the cases above. Well, as I’ve said, it already provides a justification for Pro’s view on killing the unborn and killing normal adults (Cases A & E). So far, so good.


In the case of infants, however, Pro’s case begins to weaken dramatically. Do infants “object to death”? Given that they have no concept of life or death, how could they object to death or desire the right to life? In terms of desires, it would seem that infants only exhibit them insofar as a foetus doe: either implicitly or not at all. Whatever the case, Pro’s account would have to view infanticide as having equal moral status with abortion. As such, Pro’s account fails in the case of the infant.


As for the suicidal broken-hearted teenager, it seems on Pro's view, one would have the right to kill him, as he clearly doesn’t object to death. The problem with this is that desiring suicide in this case is not necessarily a rational choice. That’s why Marquis uses the teen in his example. The thought-experiment posits an overblown reaction to a temporary, albeit painful, emotional state (depression). Given that Pro’s only surviving justification is one of desiring to live (or objecting to death), and given that a teen in such a state would momentarily desire to die, it seems that murder in this instance would be permissible on Pro’s account. As such, Pro cannot account for the wrongness of killing in this case either.


As for the temporarily comatose, again, they don’t exhibit any desires. Yet we do not think killing such patients is morally permissible. Another failure of Pro’s position. Pro’s account also would not cover other similar examples. A Buddhist achieving nirvana would not have *any* desires including the desire to continue living. What about a race of sentient alien persons who outgrew desires? Would killing these highly rational non-human persons be morally permissible? On Pro’s view, it would have to be (2).


Given that Pro’s account not only fails to provide a general account for the wrongness of killing in most of Marquis’ examples, but also in many similar cases, it cannot provide satisfactory justification for the moral condemnation for killing.


The Future of Value (or FLO) account for the wrongness of killing

Alternatively, I want to argue (following Marquis) that killing is wrong because it deprives a being of a future of value - a Future-Like-Ours (FLO). On this account, merely the act of robbing us of a potentially valuable future provides grounds for condemning killing.


Before I sketch out my account, I want to make it clear what I’m not saying. I’m not arguing that a foetus has the right to life because of its potential to become a person. Such a characterisation would only serve to attack a straw-man. As Pro-Choice philosopher David Boonin points out,


“The FLO argument appeals to an actual property that the fetus already has, the property of having a valuable personal future. This is an actual property it shares with us, not a potential it has to acquire a property which we already actually possess.”


As such, the FLO,


“cannot be defeated by pointing to the objection that undermines the more common potentiality argument.” (3)


How does the FLO account handle the above cases? Well, it obviously applies to normal adults. That you or I have a future of value is obviously apparent, all else being equal. Just as clear-cut is the infant case, who also possess a FLO. As for the suicidal teenager and the coma patient, do they have futures which are, ceteris paribus, valuable? Of course! Given that their states are temporary, it is just as apparent that, given time, both will be deprived of a valuable future upon being murdered. It is obvious that this same reasoning would extend the right to life to my Buddhist and alien example on similar grounds.


What implication does the Flo account have for the morality of abortion? As Marquis notes,


“The future of a standard fetus includes a set of experiences, projects, activities, and which are identical with the futures of adult human beings and are identical with the futures of young children. Since the reason that is sufficient to explain why it is wrong to kill human beings after the time of birth is a reason that also applies to fetuses, it follows that abortion is prima facie seriously morally wrong.”(4)


Given that Flo account can address all the relevant examples and support my view in the contentious issue (case A), while Pro’s case is hugely defective, it follows that abortion is generally morally impermissible.


Conclusion


I want to close with the words of moral philosopher Rosalind Hursthouse, who perfectly captures the profound nature of the issue:


"to think of abortion as nothing but the killing of something that does not matter . . . is to do something callous and light-minded". (5)


Sources


1.,4. http://faculty.polytechnic.org...

2. Kaczor, Christopher, The Ethics of Abortion, 2011, P57-67

3. Boonin, David, A Defense of Abortion, 2003, P62

5. Hursthouse, Rosalind, "Virtue theory and Abortion", in Virtue Ethics, 1997, P230


Adapted from previous debate http://www.debate.org...
Debate Round No. 2
KaleBevilacqua

Pro

You may have misunderstood my point in listing those items. Those are just some harms that could come from killing. They aren't an all-or-none thing; lack of one does not eliminate all the other reasons.

What direct harm comes from aborting a pre-cutoff point fetus? *drums fingers, whistling* None of those harms, that's for sure. How would I have felt if I'd been aborted away? The same way I'd felt if I'd been abstained away--I wouldn't. But nobody forced my parents to conceive me in order to allow me to live with a good future. I could've just been nonexistent and futureless. That was merely their choice. We all deserve reproductive rights, and if they'd been forced to have me, that would've caused more harm to them than the harm to me if I'd never existed as a sentient, feeling being.

What makes certain cases of harmless killing immoral? The malicious intent. It is not a case of protecting the killed, but of punishing the killer. There's no malicious intent in abortion; nobody thinks "ew, a fetus, I hate you, you deserve to die." It is merely a matter of protecting bodily autonomy (more on that in a bit). Why doesn't "non-sentient" apply to sleeping people? Because you can still feel when you sleep, and you still don't want to die. And also you still have friends and family who can mourn. The only folks who fulfill absolutely ZERO criteria for resulting harm are pre-cutoff point fetuses and braindead people. The fetuses' parents can choose to have it aborted; the braindead vegetable's next of kin can choose to have the plug pulled.

Besides, even if you can't shake that abortion is murder, it can be considered justifiable homicide out of self-defense. Bodily autonomy is the reason that rape and assault are wrong. Likewise, a fetus is taking over a person's body, sucking up their nutrients, and using their organs without their consent. The bearer has every right to remove the straining parasitic-behaving fetus.

I could say more but I am TIRED right now. If I think of more I'll include it in the comment section, mmmkay?
unitedandy

Con

Introduction

In this round, my primary target will be to focus on Pro’s case for abortion choice - that of bodily rights. It seems to me that a pretty strong case can be given for such a position (even if I still think it’s ultimately flawed), although Pro’s presentation of this argument is unnecessarily weak. I’ll get to why later.


To begin with however, I want to respond to Pro’s rebuttal of my case.



The case for the moral impermissibility of abortion

The Future-Like-Ours (FLO) argument

Readers will remember that the argument I presented and defended was predicated on providing a general account for the wrongness of killing. Using philosopher Don Marquis’ examples (as well as others), I examined Pro’s possible explanations for this general account and found 2 of them to be ably dismissed with trivial ease. Pro’s only remaining viable account Pro was deemed hopelessly flawed by working through cases A-E.

I then showed how the FLO account for the wrongness of killing was a successful explanation in dealing with these examples and how this then provided justification for the impermissibility of abortion.

Before I get into specifics, I want to give a general impression of Pro’s response.


Pro simply doesn’t engage *at all* with the main features of the argument - Marquis’ 4 examples (plus my additional 2 cases), the desire account or the FLO account for the wrongness of killing. As such, not only has Pro effectively dropped an argument she gave in defence of abortion, but my argument stands almost entirely unscathed.

As for Pro’s specific points, they fare no better.


Pro’s first criticism is that her 3 possibilities for the wrongness of killing (inflicted pain, objecting to death, harm to loved ones) were not to be taken as exhaustive. She says:

“Those are just some harms that could come from killing. They aren't an all-or-none thing; lack of one does not eliminate all the other reasons.”

The problems with this are obvious.

First, it’s self-refuting. If a foetus can’t feel pain, doesn’t object to death or doesn’t have loved ones, I could respond as Pro does, that Pro’s conditions “are just some of the harms that come from killing and . . . lack of one does not eliminate all other reasons.”

Second, I already anticipated this in presenting my argument, warning Pro that she had to provide a necessary account for the wrongness of killing because anything else leaves open the possibility that these “other reasons” may extend to the unborn.

Third, I actually provided an account that justifies the condemnation of murder in cases B-E that supports my view of abortion (FLO). Unless and until Pro can (i) show that this is flawed by actually working through the argument and (ii) provide her own general account which supports her view from Cases A-E, she’s simply not responding to my argument.


Next, Pro rhetorically asks what harm comes from abortion, given that a foetus would “never (have) existed as a sentient, feeling being.”

Simple. I gave an argument that killing was wrong because it (among other things) deprives us and the unborn of a Future of Value (or FLO). As for Pro’s insistence that sentience is relevant to the right to life, without an argument such a claim is obviously question-begging.


Pro then asserts that killing is wrong not due to the harm it causes the victim, but because of the “malicious intent” of the would-be murderer.

This both false and irrelevant. Manslaughter, for example, is still a serious offence and of great harm to the victim, regardless of intent.

Also, “malicious intent” alone doesn’t explain why, in general, killing is seriously morally wrong. Lots of acts have such intent, but very few, if any, are as serious as killing. As such, we must look at why killing itself is seriously morally wrong and Pro simply hasn’t done so as of yet.

As such, on the balance we must conclude that abortion is prima facie seriously morally wrong.




The case for the permissibility of abortion

Bodily autonomy

Pro asserts that women have the right to an abortion because the unborn use a woman’s body without their consent. Further, given their lack of sentience and parasitic use of this body, the unborn don’t have bodily autonomy themselves.

It’s important to note that Pro drastically (and wholly detrimentally) departs from the typical bodily rights position in a couple of ways.

First, she doesn’t appeal to analogy (e.g. Thomson’s violinist). As such, I struggle to see that Pro has actually made an argument here at all, rather than just asserted her position. In any case, at the very least, it has lost much of its intuitive appeal.

Second, Pro doesn’t grant, as Thomson does, that the unborn is a person (at least for the sake of argument). Instead, she conveys the unborn as parasitic, living inside the mother’s body to “suck up their nutrients.”

The huge problem this needlessly creates is that it makes the argument beg the question. Pro hasn’t argued (like Singer or Warren do, for example) that personhood requires a certain level of cognitive ability. It’s just asserted by Pro.

As for the parasite point, this is obviously false for 2 reasons.

First, women have the biological equipment present specifically to bear children (uterus, ovum). Second, pregnancy is a prima facie good. Women can reasonably want children. Not only that but any abortion should be explicitly consensual (unlike treating an unconscious parasite victim), ceteris paribus. This obviously differentiates the unborn from a tapeworm, say, or any other parasite, if such a point wasn’t obvious enough (1).

Given that Pro’s account rests solely on these 2 conditions, it’s completely discredited, even among those who’d advocate this very argument, I’d suggest.



However, I don’t want to rely on the fallibility of Pro’s presentation, so let’s suppose a good case for bodily rights had been made. It would still face numerous challenges:

1. Foetal Bodily rights - Given I’ve already shown Pro’s denial of foetal bodily autonomy to be nonsense, I’ll proceed as such. Even if it were the case that, following Thomson, one could “unplug” from the unborn, such a position is practically useless for abortion choice, given that the vast, vast majority of abortion methods “directly attack the body of the human foetus” (2).To use Thomson’s analogy, this would be like unplugging oneself from the violinist by hacking his body to pieces.

2. The Responsibility objection - On elective abortion, every pregnancy is the foreseeable consequence of a consensual act. As such, the women (rather than the foetus) is responsible for the existence of the foetus inside the womb, and as such, seems to undermine the bodily rights position:

Suppose I grab you onto my boat and set sail. In the middle of the ocean, I realise that I’ve mistaken you for a friend. Knowing this I have two choices: either I share my boat and all its resources (food, etc) with the innocent bystander I’m responsible for bring on the boat, or I enact “property rights”, throwing you off the boat and causing certain death.


I submit that this is more analogous to pregnancy than the violinist example and elicits a position closer to mine than Pro’s. It’s just trivially true that people are responsible for not just their intentions, but the foreseeable consequences of their actions.


Conclusion

There’s much more I could say on the bodily rights argument, but given Pro’s presentation of it, there’s not much point going any deeper. I’ve given numerous criticisms of Pro’s position and 2 responses to a much stronger version of Pro’s argument.

As for the case against abortion, I’d ask Pro to actually get involved and engage with the argument at hand (FLO), rather than rely on the ultra-concise, general and transparently superficial assertions offered thus far.


Sources

1. Beckwith, Francis, Defending life: A moral and legal case against abortion choice, P176

2. Kaczor, Christopher, The ethics of abortion, P153
Debate Round No. 3
KaleBevilacqua

Pro

KaleBevilacqua forfeited this round.
unitedandy

Con

Pro has forfeited her last round and such behaviour is guilty of a conduct violation.

Unfortunately, given that I dismantled Pro's affirmative position and rebutted every criticism Pro raised to my own affirmative case against the permissibility of abortion in the last round, I have nothing left to respond to.

I hope that Pro does return to finish the debate, but given the weight of evidence presented by each side thus far, I suspect Pro is facing an almost impossible task to win the argument point.

Vote Con!
Debate Round No. 4
KaleBevilacqua

Pro

HOLY SHlT I'M SO SORRY!

I didn't mean to forfeit. Your arguments got kind of dark, and it triggered my posttraumatic responses. I couldn't work up the strength to respond. I wanted to tell you this, BUUUT I have been so wrapped up in schoolwork lately that I forgot. Sorry.
unitedandy

Con

Pro has essentially conceded the last 2 rounds, and given the balance of evidence in the prior rounds, it's pretty clear that she has given up on the debate. As such arguments unquestionably flow to Con.

Given Pro's conduct violation, this point flows to Con as well.

Thanks to the readers and to Pro for the debate.

UnitedAndy
Debate Round No. 5
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by emospongebob527 3 years ago
emospongebob527
Wow. xD
Posted by KaleBevilacqua 3 years ago
KaleBevilacqua
@emospongebob I DIDN'T!
Posted by emospongebob527 3 years ago
emospongebob527
Then why did you make the debate knowing that something may come up which may prevent you from responding?
Posted by KaleBevilacqua 3 years ago
KaleBevilacqua
I couldn't respond!
Posted by unitedandy 3 years ago
unitedandy
Providing a better case ain't an unfair advantage.
Posted by KaleBevilacqua 3 years ago
KaleBevilacqua
GUYS, STOP! Please
Posted by KaleBevilacqua 3 years ago
KaleBevilacqua
NO!!!! NO, EMOSPONGEBOB! Don't vote. It isn't fair.
Posted by unitedandy 3 years ago
unitedandy
Hey,

Do you want me to start straight away, or is R1 an acceptance round.
Posted by emospongebob527 3 years ago
emospongebob527
I may take you up on this.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by zmikecuber 3 years ago
zmikecuber
KaleBevilacquaunitedandyTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Con's argument went unrefuted and he did a good job of presenting it. Conduct to Con for the forfeit on Pro's part.
Vote Placed by Xerge 3 years ago
Xerge
KaleBevilacquaunitedandyTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Con's main argument, which was the FLO argument, was not challenged by Pro. Also Pro conceded the last two rounds which allowed Con's case to stand. Therefore, the argument vote goes to Con. Conduct to Con for the forfeit
Vote Placed by emospongebob527 3 years ago
emospongebob527
KaleBevilacquaunitedandyTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments were absolutely destroyed and Con's future-like-ours argument went completely unscathed. Pro essentially forfeited the last two rounds and didn't really put here sources to good use, whereas Con did.