I can't decide whether to be for or against abortion - Convince me to be pro-life!
I assume that Pro, like the majority of humanity, believes that it is wrong (in most cases) to intentionally and prematurely end a human life. Pro-life is the most logically consistent position for someone who holds such a belief. If my opponent does not believe such an act is wrong, please say so and I'll forfeit because continuing further arguments would be pointless.
There are many complex questions surrounding abortion - what about incest? What about a woman's right to choose? Isn't it the woman's body? While these are all important questions, they are secondary. The first, unavoidable, and central question is this - is a fetus human life? This is the root of the issue. We cannot progress to the other questions until we answer this one. If it is human life, and if Pro agrees that ending human life is wrong, then embracing Pro-life is the only rational conclusion. There is not a single piece of logical or scientific evidence to suggest that an unborn child, at any stage of development, is anything other than a human life, so we must therefore accept that abortion is wrong.
Here are some initial arguments for Pro's consideration:
1. Science overwhelmingly confirms that the unborn, even at the earliest stage, are human. At the first second of conception, the zygote has unique and completely human DNA. Humans have 46 chromosomes with DNA specific to the Homo Sapiens species. All 46 chromosomes, as well as the human specific DNA that comes with them, are present the moment fertilization occurs. According to the book Human Embryology & Teratology, "fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed.... The combination of 23 chromosomes present in each pronucleus results in 46 chromosomes in the zygote. ".
Even if an abortion happens just after pregnancy can first be detected (4-5 weeks), the embryo has already begun developing its own unique brain, spinal cord, fingerprints, and heart. By week 6, the arms, legs, eyes, and bones develop. The heart also begins beating . The brain and spine of a fetus are not the organs of some separate sub-human species. They are genetically and fully Homo Sapien. There is not a single scientific argument to justify why a fetus is not a member of the human species.
2. Constitutional Law - even Constitutional Law confirms that the unborn are both alive and human. The 2008 Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA), Section 1841, says that any action that injures a child in utero can be punished as if the injury was inflicted on the mother herself, even if the offender acted unintentionally or had no knowledge she was pregnant. Furthermore, UVVA says, "As used in this section, the term "child in utero" or "child, who is in utero" means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb." Incredibly, this means that if a pregnant woman on her way to the abortion clinic gets hit by a texting driver, survives, but loses the baby, then that driver can be charged with manslaughter. Yet, if the woman arrives safely at the abortion clinic, she can "lose" her baby in a perfectly legal and often celebrated procedure. This contradiction borders on the insane and cannot be justified with logic.
3. The problem of viability - Pro-choice advocates often claim that a fetus should only be considered human after it is "viable." Viable meaning it can survive outside the womb. The problem, of course, is that there is no clear or consistent definition of viability. There are very few people who draw the line at birth - even the most ardent abortion supporters would not advocate aborting a fetus 3 minutes before birth. But where then DOES the line get drawn? 3 hours? 3 days? 3 weeks? 3 months? This is a very difficult question to answer since there is no clear answer to be found. If there is no obvious or consistent definition of viability, then there is no obvious or consistent time to say abortion is ok.
The other problem with arguing for viability is that viability is almost purely a function of current technology. Over the decades, the point at which babies have survived outside the womb keeps getting earlier. In ancient times, even slightly premature babies frequently died. Today however, babies can survive after only 22 weeks in the womb . It is not unreasonable to assume that with further technological advancement, this threshold will continue to shrink. So what does that mean if viability defines humanity? Is our level of humanity purely dependent on the level of technology we have access to? Was a non-viable 35 week ancient baby less human than a viable 22 week modern one? Viability is too inconsistent and fluid to have much meaning, which makes it a scary standard to use when justifying abortion.
That's all I'll say for now. Looking forward to Pro's response.
 O'Rahilly, Ronan and Muller, Fabiola. Human Embryology & Teratology. 2nd edition. (New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996), 8-29
It is not true that a pregnancy can first be detected at 4-5 weeks, a pregnancy can be detected as early as 10 days.
3. Even though there is no clear or consistent definition of viability, we can say when there is absolutely no chance of it. A child 'born' in the first trimester has 0 zero chance of survival.
I suppose I will respond to their very short rebuttals:
By law it is called a human being. Please re-read my section about the UVVA. I admit this is only an example from American law, but it sets a precedent nonetheless. I am not aware of any laws in any nation that deny the humanity of a fetus outright. A "spontaneous abortion," although it uses the same word, is not an abortion of the type we are discussing. Both a stillbirth and a spontaneous abortion are broadly categorized as "miscarriages." We are discussing the intentional, clinical, consensual termination of an otherwise healthy pregnancy (in most cases). Miscarriages are not intentional, clinical, or consented to.
You are correct that some pregnancy tests can detect within days. I was referring to the most widely used method, the urine test, which indeed does typically require several weeks of progress for a positive result. Even if a pregnancy is detected within 10 days and the mother immediately decided to abort, it would still take some time to find a clinic, schedule an appointment, and get the procedure. By that time, the baby would undoubtedly be at least several weeks old. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 66.5% of abortions happen after 7 weeks . Anyway, why does it matter? It seems that Pro is willing to accept that science confirms the humanity of a fetus. If that's the case, it matters not how early a baby is aborted. Why is a 10-day baby less human than a 4 week baby? Science does not support a clear "moment of humanity" other than conception, and therefore it doesn't matter how early the pregnancy is detected.
Finally, Pro says there is no chance that a first trimester child could be viable. I disagree. In 1815 there was no chance that a 22-week child could survive. But now they can. Perhaps in another 200 years babies will be surviving at 12 weeks? We cannot know for sure. What we do know is the point of viability is getting earlier and earlier as technology and medicine improve. There is no basis to claim that there is "absolutely no chance" of first trimester viability.
My larger point is that "viability" doesn't matter. It is not a good justification for abortion because it is always changing based on current technology, and the status of human life does not (should not) depend on technology. Furthermore, a baby is technically not viable after birth either. A 2 week old newborn cannot survive outside the womb without significant outside assistance from parents and caretakers. If you left a 3 month old child by themselves in the park, you'd see her become non-viable very quickly. So is the 3 month old less than human too? Viability makes no sense and is a poor argument.
I don't feel like Pro really challenged any of my arguments, so I hope they do so in the next round. Once again, the question we must answer is "is a fetus a human life?" I say yes, I'm interested to hear any justifications my opponent can find for saying no.
We cannot make laws that are determined by what can possibly be in the future. The reality is, a baby cannot survive outside the womb in the first trimester. If technology will change this is the future we will take that debate again when it is relelvant.
You talk about that a fetus is human. However, when do you think humanity starts? Because it must have a start, yes?
I'm gonna go ahead and assume that you believe it starts at conception.
I have a friend who got cancer, and like many women with cancer do she decided to freeze her eggs. The eggs have a much better chance of survival if they are fertilized, so she had her husband 'donate' some semen, so they could freeze fertilized eggs. She told me that they froze about a dozen fertilized eggs, and the reason why they do so many is because it doesn't always work the first, second or even the third time.
Now, my friend hasn't used her eggs yet. However let's imagine she wants to do that today, and she goes to the clinic uses the first egg. Luckily for her, it worked the first time, they are very happy, they have a beautiful girl and all is good. However, my friend realizes that she thinks one child is enough, however she still has about 10 fertilized eggs left in a freezer somewhere. Do you believe these eggs are human beings? If so, do you think it would be abortion to not use them? If not, if a human life doesn't start here, where does it start?
The scenario with your friend (and I am sorry to hear of her circumstances) touches on the main question we must address - is a fetus human life?
I agree that humanity must have a start, and I do believe that start is conception. I believe this is the only rational, scientifically consistent definition to hold. There is no scientific or logical evidence to suggest that humanity starts at some point after conception. Even if there was, it would be highly variable and inconsistent. This is scary, because we are talking about potential human life here. If we are not 100% sure whether the growing life is human, why risk killing it? If we are unsure about when humanity starts, then it's best to err on the side of caution. If we are sure (as I am) that humanity starts at conception, then abortion cannot even be an option in all but the most extreme cases.
Yes, the frozen fertilized eggs are human, and discarding them would be abortion. There is no scientific argument to justify why they are not human. These fertilized eggs are living cells containing all 46 human chromosomes and complete DNA distinct from the parents and unique to the homo sapien species that, if allowed, have the potential to develop into a mature human capable of reproducing with other humans.
If these frozen embryos are not human, then why? What makes them sub-human? I pose your same question back at you - if human life does not start here, where does it start?
This seems as a hypothetical scenario. However, it is not. Freezing eggs is getting more popular, since people are starting their families later in life, which for women means they have more difficult time conceiving. Every egg she uses has a real chance of survival, and it is possible that if she uses all 12 eggs 5 or more will work.
Then you could go ahead and say that we don't have to freeze that many. Then I have to tell you the opposite scenario, where it takes a lot of attempts for one to work. My friend could do 5 before the 6th works. So by freezing less eggs you there is a greater risk that you won't get pregnant at all.
Some might say this is a ridiculous discussion, but I think it is very relevant and thought provoking to the question when life begins, which is the ultimate question to the discussion about abortion. You stated previously that you do think that discarding the eggs would be equal to abortion, I however wonder what you would tell my friend after having 5 children, with 5 embryos in a freezer.
I will, once again, emphasize that there are no scientific or logical reasons why a frozen embryo is not human life. If you doubt this, I would challenge you to find any.
I look forward to any other arguments you wish to present.
I hope you realize that this method is being used by couples that do not have a chance, or have very little chance at conceiving on their own. It is not used as an alternative to something else, it is their only hope of having a biological child.
I want you to think of all the people that are living today because of this method, and tell me that it is morally wrong to use it.
I would like you to consider the lives we create are worth it, because these people would never have been alive otherwise.
Some people owe their lives to this method, and the eggs that are discarded would never have been anything anyways. This method does not kill fertilized eggs, it gives someone life, a life that would not exist without it.
I find it incredibly amazing, that one would rather not do this method because they think more of the lives that never have a chance anyway rather than the one's that do.
This is my last round, even though I would love to reply to my opponent. Are the fertilized eggs better off never have been fertilized? And what would we then have achieved, and what did we lose?
I feel like this debate has now focused exclusively on in vitro fertilization (IVF) rather than abortion at large. But, I'm happy to keep the conversation going...
You pose many valid questions. But, you still have not answered my main question - why should a fertilized egg not be considered human? What evidence can justify denying human status to a fertilized egg?
Forgive me, but some of your claims are quite shocking:
"This method does not kill fertilized eggs" - Really? That is exactly what it does! Unused frozen embryos are not preserved forever, they are eventually disposed of. This disposal causes them to die.
"The eggs that are discarded would never have been anything anyways." - If that is true, then how did the non-discarded eggs become babies? Doesn't each egg hold the same potential for life? Why are used eggs given special status over unused eggs, simply because they were randomly selected from the batch? Obviously the discarded eggs will never "be anything".... because they were discarded! If they were not thrown out, they would have just as much chance to make a life as the other eggs.
"Think of all the people that are living today because of this method, and tell me that it is morally wrong to use it." - I would turn this back on you: think of all the people NOT living today because their fertilized egg was "discarded," and tell me that it is morally fine to do this. The whole premise of your statement is that a fertilized egg holds human life, which is exactly why it's morally questionable at best to use some eggs and discard others.
"I would like you to consider the lives we create are worth it" - Yes, but I would also like you to consider that the lives we destroy are worth it too.
"Are the fertilized eggs better off never have been fertilized?" - I would say the fertilized eggs are better off not being killed....
"...it is their only hope of having a biological child." - That is true, sadly. However, it is not the only option for having a child. Throughout the world, there are millions of orphans who will never find a loving home or a better life. They will never find these things because not enough people are willing to adopt them. It is estimated that there are 18 million orphans across the world. It's sad that some people cannot conceive a child. But it is also sad that 18 million already living children will never find homes because we simply want to pass on our own genes.
The only way "discarding" fertilized eggs is not wrong is if those eggs are not considered human life. But all the scientific and logical evidence says they ARE human. There is not a shred of evidence to justify why human life does not begin at conception. Therefore, destroying an unborn child, at any point in development, whether through IVF or abortion, must qualify as destroying human life.
I am happy to keep this conversation going. Feel free to private message me or challenge me to another debate.