The Instigator
Freeman
Pro (for)
Winning
36 Points
The Contender
sherlockmethod
Con (against)
Losing
27 Points

Infanticide should be legal in the United States.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/7/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 7,901 times Debate No: 11932
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (42)
Votes (18)

 

Freeman

Pro

The United States should allow the use of infanticide in the case of infants with severe medical complications. This policy should be adopted because euthanizing infants in some scenarios can be a valid moral option since certain infants can be born with absolutely terrible life prospects. For example, there are a number of instances where infants can have terminal ailments that cause them to suffer immensely after birth before killing them shortly thereafter. In these situations, infanticide should be an option available to the parents of infants with these conditions. Additionally, there are strong grounds that can justify infanticide in a broader context since infants are not rational and self-conscious agents. Because infants cannot hold a conscious desire to continue living – and have never held a conscious desire to continue living - they can't be given the same rights as persons. Therefore, painlessly killing an infant cannot be wrong in the same way that killing a person is wrong. Of course, there would have to be parameters set around the practice of killing infants. And such technical matters are, indeed, important. But, for now, it is sufficient to recognize that there are certain situations in which intentionally killing infants can be justified.

=======================> Why Infanticide Can Be Morally Justified <=========================

C1: Infanticide is justified in the case of infants with severe medical problems that will end up killing them painfully.

There are situations in which painlessly killing an infant could be an act of compassion. Undoubtedly, claims of this sort are bound to raise a few eyebrows, but they shouldn't. There are, in fact, numerous situations where it would be ethically justifiable to painlessly kill infants. For example, there are genetic conditions that can kill infants slowly and cause them unbearable pain in the process. Certain infants, due to genetic defects, can be born with a heart outside of their body [1], without any skin [2], and some infants can even be born with their intestines outside of their body. [3] Worst of all, some infants can be born with a terrible defect known as anencephaly. These anencephalic infants are born without a forebrain and die within a few hours or days after birth, often from cardiorespiratory arrest. [4] In a situation such as this, painless euthanasia will eliminate the possible suffering of the infant much faster and more compassionately than simply waiting for the newborn to go into cardiorespiratory arrest. Ergo, there are cases where euthanizing an infant can be justified given its terrible life prospects.

C2: A human infant is not a person and thus cannot have a serious right to life.

Given the limited mental qualities that an infant has, they simply cannot be said to posses the same rights that are granted to fully conscious persons. Likewise, the mere fact that infants are humans - in the biological sense - cannot function as a feature that gives them some sort of elevated moral status. Peter Singer — the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and laureate professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE), University of Melbourne — put it this way, "the fact that a being is a human being, in the sense of a member of the species Homo sapiens, is not relevant to the wrongness of killing it; it is, rather, characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness that make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings." [5] From this it follows that any infant – disabled or not – cannot have a strong claim to a right to life since infants are not self-conscious beings. In either scenario, infanticide can be reasonably justified. As a result, there are good ethical grounds for legally allowing infanticide under certain parameters since infants lack key mental qualities.

C3: An entity's potentials cannot grant that entity rights.

An infant's potential to acquire characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness are not a sound basis for granting it a right to life. The potential to gain certain mental qualities – it is sometimes argued – presents a valid basis for giving a fetus and an infant a serious right to life. However, this principle simply cannot be adopted as a rights criterion since masturbation, contraception, and abstinence could all be equally condemned by its own standards. [6] In fact, under this ethical framework, even refusing to be raped could be considered unethical since it denies a potential entity the ability to become a person. These are simply an odious and untenable set of conclusions that could be drawn from the notion that entities can acquire rights through undetermined potentials. Therefore, an infant's potential to become a self-conscious person should be rejected as the foundation for granting it rights.

::Conclusion::

Infanticide may not only be permissible in certain situations, it may actually be morally obligatory. Allowing an infant with a severe defect to die slowly and painfully from its ailments seems perverse given the other options that exist. In summary, infants with terminal ailments that are bound to suffer horribly provide a strong reason as to why infanticide should be allowed under certain parameters. It may seem incomprehensible to some that any person could seriously consider such a proposition. And they may certainly wish to raise objections to the arguments contained in this essay. However, those objections are, in all likelihood, wholly misguided since they often fail to take into account the broad range of concerns that encompass issues of this sort. As was demonstrated earlier, an infant cannot be reasonably counted as a person. Consequently, even if there were no infants with severe medical complications, there is still a strong case that infanticide can be morally justified and thus should be legally permitted.

Sources:
1. http://edition.cnn.com...
2. http://www.google.com...
3. http://www.associatedcontent.com...
4. http://en.wikipedia.org...
5. Singer, Peter. Practical Ethics. 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge, 1993. p. 182 (http://www.utilitarian.net...)
6. Singer, Peter. Practical Ethics. 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge, 1993. p. 181 (http://www.utilitarian.net...)
sherlockmethod

Con

I thank my opponent for offering this debate and I look forward to a solid exchange.

The Resolution:
As Pro and instigator, Freeman offered this debate in legal terms. He did not write infanticide should just be morally permissible; he made clear the act should be legal in the US; therefore, the Constitution of the United States applies. I negate.

Infanticide: Without playing with the definition too much, I will accept the killing of a newborn. http://research.lawyers.com... Several definitions are available, but this one is fine and appears to be on the subject Pro is addressing.

C1: Pro makes a solid case concerning infants with horrid birth defects. Parents pretty much decide on operations after getting advice from the doctors. The state is not under obligation to provide certain life saving care over a parent's objection in cases of extreme birth defects and low likelihood of survival. http://www.law.uconn.edu... In short, infanticide is already legal in the US, if one is willing to consider inaction (forgoing invasive medical treatment where results would be marginal) equivalent to overtly euthanizing the infant. But Pro wishes the law to go one step further and allow the overt act by, presumably, a doctor with a parent's permission. The problem here is that a child, once born, is an American citizen and arbitrarily denying a child the right to remain alive violates the 14th Amendment. In order to satisfy Pro's position, the Constitution must be removed wholesale for a specific group – disabled children. The fact that the child is not a rational agent is irrelevant in the eyes of the Constitution. Some rights are granted to children within limits, I agree, but a child is a citizen of the US and is protected under its laws. I submit that birth defects should not remove an American citizen from Constitutional protections.

Secondly, Doctors operate under very important oaths, versions of the Hippocratic Oath in some cases, but not identical in all respects. They cannot change the horrid hands that nature deals people, but they must provide standard care in all cases to allow for what little life nature and modern medicine allow. If a child can live for one fleeting minute, then a doctor is under every obligation to allow for that minute. The assigned providers, parents, can prohibit the doctors from performing risky operations with marginal results, which falls well in line with respecting their wishes and the doctor's oath, but the doctor cannot take upon herself the overt act of killing while maintaining her obligations to the field. Death Penalty doctors are shunned for their practice of lethal injection. Compromising professional ethics for the crime of a major birth defect is not a positive path and is one we should avoid as much as possible to maintain the integrity of the medical field. Pro is offering homicide, plain and simple, for a group that does not live up to his standards.

Pro listed several birth defects and I must add that intestines forming on the outside of the body is easily remedied now. The operation is not that big of a deal anymore. The death penalty is not needed for this atrocious crime. Pro's own source provides the same information.

Here is a gentleman born with his heart on the outside of his chest. 34 years and counting. http://abcnews.go.com...
He has lived a good life and I see no need to deny such a life to another. Nor can I find it constitutionally permissible.

Ryan, a baby born without skin covering all of his body also lived, and enjoys life and constitutionally he is allowed this much. http://www.10news.com...
Tri athlete? Not bad Ryan, not bad at all.

Anencephaly is truly terrible. The babies are not aggressively resuscitated; they have no chance of life but they are still persons under the law and this debate is about legality. As much as an overt act of compassion seems appropriate, nature's cruel hand must be left alone for the few days of this infant's life. The lack of many portions of the brain suggests the patient feels no pain. http://www.ninds.nih.gov...
A painless death will come without the aide of a doctor and without opening a door, infanticide, better left shut. Baby K was a famous case of anencephaly, and issues of medical futility were at the heart of the case, not infanticide by overt acts. The latter was never considered by the doctors. http://www.medscape.com...

Lastly, Pro offered that infanticide should be legal within limits; since he offered this debate in legal terms, I ask that he write the law and present it in the second round. My request is fair. Those "technicalities" may be all that is needed to render this debate moot.

C2: Infants are persons under the law and this debate is about legality so they can be said to be persons, Dr. Singer and utilitarianism aside. I ask that pro provide a legal, constitutionally permissible definition for person that can exclude those with birth defects of any sort from other infants and still provide for EQUAL protection of the law for all US citizens. Biology is not the proving ground here, rights granted under a legal document, the US Constitution, are the focus. Dr. Singer (in the source Pro provided) avoids full on discussion concerning adoption and admits that it complicates his position somewhat. Under the law, it appears to complicate it greatly. An infant is a US citizen and I agree with current laws allowing for a parent to decide, in cases of medical futility, on operations, but allowing for the overt act of euthanasia brings forth issues concerning the best interest of the disabled US citizen. Adoption renders euthanasia impermissible in light of the US citizen's legally granted rights as a legal person.

C3: Dr. Singer's definition of human is not one that allows for Constitutional protections so it must be rejected in the sense of legality; therefore, I see no need to address the "potential" argument he focuses on so dearly. The Constitution is a legal document so the rights granted there must be our focus since the issue is legality.

Conclusion: In light of the resolution, this debate's focus is legality, not morality. Pro must show how a naturally born disabled US citizen, natural born being a legal distinction so precious that a citizen must possess it in order to be president, should not be permitted the protection of the US Constitution offered everyone else. He has not done so.
Debate Round No. 1
Freeman

Pro

Thank you, sherlockmethod, for taking time out to debate with me. We seem to disagree on some key issues, so I'm sure we will have plenty to argue about. For starters, the laws we create in society are a reflection of the moral standards we've adopted. And I'm arguing that the law "should" be a certain way. Words like "should" or "ought" imply ethical judgments. [1] As such, my opponent and I are arguing about the moral principles that underpin our laws, not the actual constitutional merit of the laws themselves. For example, a law can be constitutional and wrong (morally) or vice versa. Therefore, laws and constitutional standards cannot be used to justify their own validity; that would be circular reasoning. Not to disparage my antagonist in any way, but this is a basic point in logic. I'm not saying anything that isn't universally accepted by logicians. With that out of the way, lets get into the actual debate.

=======================> Why Infanticide Can Be Morally Justified <=========================

C1: Infanticide is justified in the case of infants with severe medical problems that will end up killing them painfully.

My opponent argues that a child, once born, should have a right to life under the constitution, and thus infanticide is unacceptable. Later on, he suggests that my proposal is equivalent to advocating for "homicide". Unfortunately, he has yet to explain why this is the case. As such, my opponent seems to be appealing to moral principles, which, oddly enough, he has not mentioned at all in the course of his first round.

Despite what my antagonist may believe, there are very strong and reasonable grounds to suppose that not every human born in the United Sates has a serious right to life. I will demonstrate this by putting his reasoning into a syllogism and then I will demonstrate why it is unsound. If his arguments were put into a syllogism, then they might take the following form:

P1: It is wrong to kill an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens that has already been born.
P2: A human infant is an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens that has already been born.
P3: Therefore, it is wrong to kill a human infant. (from 1 and 2) (Modus Ponens)
C: Therefore, it is legally objectionable to kill an infant. (from 3)

If my opponent's argument is constructed like this, strong objections can be raised against the first premise. For example, a devastating counterexample can be raised against the notion that it is always wrong to kill an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens that has been born. An adult human with complete upper brain death is an innocent member of the species Homo sapiens that has been born. However, an adult human with complete upper brain death does not possess a serious right to life; they are, for all intensive legal and moral purposes, already dead at that stage. [2] As Bernard Gert - the Stone Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy at Dartmouth College – points out, simply being alive does not have inherit value in itself. It is, rather, the capacity for conscious experience in a human that is important. [3] So, those who may wish to still believe all humans have a serious right to life should consider how ridiculous the anti-infanticide syllogism would appear in light of the counter example listed above.

Clearly, the notion that all innocent members of the species Homo sapiens have a serious right to life if they are already born is deeply erroneous. Unlike an adult, a human infant is lacking attributes in several very important areas. The human infant does not posses the same mental faculties as a full-grown adult and therefore cannot be said to posses the same serious right to life that conscious persons do. As demonstrated earlier, this moral principle can be recognized in the way humans differentiate between fully conscious adults and those that have experienced a permanent loss of consciousness due to disease or some sort of traumatic accident. And it is in this ethical purview that it is possible to recognize that an infant does not have a strong right to life since, like a brain dead adult, it does not posses a significant mental life with thoughts and desires. This is why murdering grown adults is wrong whereas killing an infant is not (as least some of the time).

Furthermore, I don't think my antagonist's attack on my first argument can withhold scrutiny. While trying to refute my central argument in this section, he claims that anencephalic infants will die without pain and, therefore, infanticide is unnecessary. However, according to my opponent's own source, "A baby born with anencephaly is usually blind, deaf, unconscious, and unable to feel pain." [4] The key word in that sentence is USUALLY. On some occasions, according to Con's source, anencephalic infants can feel pain. Therefore, risking immense suffering on these infants by letting them die naturally from cardiorespiratory arrest is simply unacceptable since some of them apparently can feel pain.

C2: A human infant is not a person and thus cannot have a serious right to life.

Before I continue, let me make a few things clear. I do not take a cavalier attitude toward the practice of infanticide. Moreover, I'm not in the mood to draw up a legal document, but I will say that I don't think infanticide should be allowed after the infant has been alive for one month. And lastly, I'm only advocating infanticide for disabled infants insofar as they are so disabled that they will surely die miserably from their conditions. Moving on…

In attempting to demonstrate why my proposal is flawed, (Con) wrote the following:

"Infants are persons under the law and this debate is about legality so they can be said to be persons, Dr. Singer and utilitarianism aside."

Now, this argument simply begs the question. My opponent is essentially claiming that an infant has a moral right to be protected under the constitution without first establishing why constitutional protections should apply to beings that are not rational, autonomous or self-conscious agents. Con simply can't use existing laws to justify the morality of a legal standard; as was stated earlier, that would be circular reasoning.

Secondly, at no point in the United States constitution does it specify what qualifies someone as a person. Moreover, even if the constitution explicitly rejected my proposal, that would not demonstrate why my proposal was flawed: it would only demonstrate that my arguments lacked constitutional merit. And since this debate has nothing to do with constitutional standards, this point would be irrelevant at any rate.

C3: An entity's potentials cannot grant that entity rights.

My opponent has chosen not to address this argument. That's fine with me. Unless he wishes to refute this in his second round, I will have won this specific argument.

::Conclusion::

In order to win this debate, all I need to do is successfully manage to defend my first argument regarding severely disabled infants with terminal ailments. Up until this point, I think it is quite clear that I have done this. As was shown earlier, infants with anencephaly can potentially suffer, and infanticide is, therefore, a valid way to ensure that those infants won't suffer horribly in their last moments on Earth. Additionally, I have also managed to successfully defend my second contention since my opponent hasn't managed to refute the criteria I have given for personhood. As such, the weight of the arguments leans heavily in my favor in the debate so far.

Sources:
1. http://plato.stanford.edu...
2. http://spot.colorado.edu... (7.2 The Counterexample Objection)
3. Gert, Bernard. Common Morality: Deciding What to Do. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004. (p. 30)
4. http://www.ninds.nih.gov...

Best,
Freeman
sherlockmethod

Con

I thank Pro for his response and after considering his points, I still maintain the Con position. Freeman is a stellar debater and I am enjoying our exchange.

First, I am aware of the moral underpinning of the law. If I was arguing from the position that laws are moral because they are Constitutional then used the Constitution for support, Pro would be correct in addressing the circularity of the argument, but I am not arguing the morality of the law by using the Constitution. I am not overly concerned with the moral underpinnings in this case. I am concerned that the law Pro suggests would require changes in the Constitution and current US laws (Pro must agree it does require change) and the changes necessary to allow for infanticide negate the "should" aspect of this resolution. In one sentence: Infanticide should not be legal because the changes it necessitates in the law would remove protections from a select group arbitrarily. (Infants in the response are 30 days or younger following Pro's response).

To illustrate: If the Constitution and laws changed to allow for the legal definition of "person" to exclude infants then an infant cannot be kidnapped under the law, nor could an infant be murdered. A person could walk into a neonatal care unit and kill all the infants without a single charge of murder being presented as the infants are not "persons", a requirement for murder.

Next, an infant could not be assaulted or battered outside of laws addressing animal cruelty as they would be "non persons". If such an issue is bothersome, then a new class of "non person" must be created and I see very little stopping laws from distinguishing between other select groups. If one group can be excluded, others can as well.

Lastly, if Pro wishes to distinguish healthy infants from those who are certain to die quickly, then the 14th amendment must be changed and interpretation from the court must somehow allow that only certain disabled infants lose protection all the while keeping some Constitutional protection for the newly defined "persons" under the law and preventing other groups from losing protection. I simply do not see how it can be done.

For these reasons, I asked Pro to show us the law and the new definition of person; he did not do so. The bottom line is application of Pro's law would result in a loss of rights for all citizens due to the structure of our current legal framework. If Pro cannot present the law and show how other groups could still be protected (healthy infants, disabled adults, Downs Syndrome citizens, etc) then he has not satisfied his burden as we cannot judge whether we should allow infanticide to be legal without looking at the law and plugging it into the current framework. My request is reasonable.

C1: Currently, infanticide is homicide. Pro instigated this debate and must show us how a law could be written to separate the two while still providing protection for his undefined "person" under the law, without the law he cannot do so. At this point infanticide is simply homicide. Pro offered a syllogism, but the construction is not my position. My position is simply that Pro's law has massive legal ramifications for all citizens and due to these ramifications the law should be rejected. Pro refuses to show us a law so we can evaluate all the needed changes in order to initiate a cost/benefit analysis. In absence of the law, we can only evaluate the one specific class Pro addressed, infants with anencephaly, and these infants can be made comfortable for their short lives. The doctors and nurses do not let the baby lay in pain waiting for death. And most feel no pain at all, but for those that do, medication is administered and nature will provide the end result shortly. A painless death comes not by law or personal fiat but by nature itself so we have no need to open this door with all the possible implications that Pro is advocating. A simple cost/benefit analysis is all that is needed to render this proposed law moot.

C2: I am in no way begging the question. I am not saying infants have a moral right to life; I could care less for this debate. I am saying that implementation of an unnecessary law with all the changes needed to allow for it under our current legal framework does not survive a simple cost/benefit analysis. The law should be rejected due to its implications on the country as a whole. Those implications are the found in the removal of the 14th Amendment and the allowance of a law segmenting groups by arbitrary distinctions. And without a working definition for "person" from Pro, we cannot evaluate the potential slippery slope.

C3: I saw no need to address this argument considering my approach. I concede for the purposes of this debate that "potential" does not necessarily grant one rights.

The issue is not whether we can separate Pro's select classes morally, but how we can do so and keep protection for others in the legal framework in the US. But for the term "legal" in the resolution, I would have avoided this debate. I debate pro abortion advocates the same way and ironically they have all refused to write a pro abortion law in the same manner Pro did here. By offering this in legal terms we must examine the legal framework needed to apply the law. The application of the law is the issue considering the resolution, not just the underlying morality of the law. In absence of the law or a legal definition of "person" we can say pro has not satisfied his burden.
Debate Round No. 2
Freeman

Pro

Once again, allow me to express my gratitude to sherlockmethod for agreeing to debate with me. Let me begin this round by summarizing his arguments to the best of my ability. My opponent argues that, "Infanticide should not be legal because the changes it necessitates in the law would remove protections from a select group arbitrarily." Further on, he contends that a law regarding infanticide is unnecessary and that under our current legal framework it simply cannot survive a simple cost/benefit analysis. Moreover, Con goes on to argue that such a law would have terrible legal ramifications and it should, therefore, be rejected.

While I do not find these arguments to be compelling (or even rational), they certainly have to be met with a serious response. In this context, I will argue that we can navigate through issues regarding infanticide without having to endorse absurd legal or moral positions. Moreover, the objections my antagonist raises simply cannot stand up to serious scrutiny. Despite Con's claims, my position can be coherently reconciled with valid moral and legal standards.

===================> Why Infanticide Should Be Legal In The United States <===================

C1: Infanticide is justified in the case of infants with severe medical problems that will end up killing them painfully.

To put this entire issue into perspective, it is worth pointing out that some countries (e.g. The Netherlands and Holland) have legalized infanticide. In particular, the Dutch government has a policy on infanticide that is quite sensible. According to The Brussels Journal, "The guideline accepted by the hospital in Groningen last year states that euthanasia is allowed when the child's medical team and independent doctors agree the pain cannot be eased and there is no prospect for improvement, and when parents think it is best." [1] For all practical purposes, this seems to be a very good model. Moreover, these societies have not faced any of the "massive legal ramifications" Con has tried to pass off as legitimate.

Additionally, the fact of the matter is that anencephalic infants are not the entire story in this issue. According to medical professionals and those that deal with these issues, "[there are some] babies that are so ill that their suffering is unbearable and hopeless and that do not die of their own accord". [1] Clearly, some conditions are far worse than anencephaly. Some infants are in such a bad condition that even tons of medical assistance cannot meaningfully improve their wellbeing. Therefore, Con's suggestion that nature and doctors can always ensure that infants have a painless death is palpably false.

Ironically, my opponent doesn't seem to have a moral issue with infanticide in the case of infants with terrible medical conditions. Indeed, in his first round he goes so far as to say that, "Pro makes a solid case concerning infants with horrid birth defects." Where we seem to differ, however, is on the legal implications of my proposal. Simply put, my opponent argues that infanticide is a door better left shut in the case of terminally ill infants because of the negative legal ramifications infanticide may bring about. So, if I can successfully show that his concerns about legal ramifications are wholly unsubstantiated, then I will have won this argument, and thus the debate.

Curiously, my opponent argues that unless we define infants as persons, then psychopaths will be able to torture and kill infants without the reproach of the law. To humor my opponent, I will grant him the proposition that all infants should be considered "persons" in the eyes of the law. Would such a concession be fatal to my position? Not at all – for it is clearly possible for someone to be a person and to not posses a serious right to life. Consider, for example, a situation in which someone charged at you with a machete in an attempt to kill you. In such a situation, it would clearly be legal (and morally justifiable) to kill the other person in self-defense, even though they are a person. So, at this point, my opponent and I are back to arguing about ethics – a topic he has skillfully managed to ignore in this debate. And as I have demonstrated earlier, there are valid moral reasons to make a legal exception for some cases of infanticide, in much the same way there are valid moral reasons to create legal differences between murder and killing someone in self defense.

C2: A human infant is not a person and thus cannot have a serious right to life.

Despite what my opponent may believe, the U.S. Constitution need not be changed in order for my current legal suggestion to be implemented. As I pointed out earlier, at no point in the U.S. Constitution does it specify the qualities that make someone a person. Ergo, the definition of what constitutes a person must be created with the help of practical ethics and legal considerations.

Later on, my opponent seems to suggest that the guidelines I have given for infanticide are "arbitrary". But honestly, I fail to see the strength of this unsupported claim. There is absolutely nothing "arbitrary" about the distinction between entities that are conscious and entities that are not conscious. The difference between a rock (an unconscious thing) and a person (a conscious agent) is tremendously consequential, and could hardly be called "arbitrary," in either ethical or legal matters.

Furthermore, my opponent says that I haven't given a formal definition for a person. As a matter of fact, I have. I stated that a person is a "rational, autonomous or self-conscious agent". If you want a more formal definition, then I can give you one. In her book, On The Moral and Legal Status of Abortion, Mary Anne Warren - an American writer and philosophy professor that taught at San Francisco State University - details five psychological criteria for personhood. According to Warren, these qualities include consciousness and in particular sentience; the capacity to reason; self-motivated activity; the capacity to communicate messages; and lastly, the presence of self-concepts. [2] As a result, an infant doesn't have a moral right to life in all circumstances since it doesn't have these five capacities. Thus, even if for legal considerations we called all infants persons, this ethical standard makes a strong case that legal exceptions should be made for infanticide, at least in the case of terminally ill infants.

::Conclusion::

The decision of whether or not to implement laws regarding infanticide need not be weighed down by scare tactics or specious reasoning. Con's not so subtle argument that allowing infanticide would lead to the legal torture, kidnapping and indiscriminate killing of infants is no more substantiated than the fatuous rumors that the United States' recent health care bill would have "death panels". [3] These sorts of arguments may convince people without the facts, but they shouldn't convince anyone that cares to look seriously at what I am proposing. Obviously, there is a proper legal and moral distinction between painlessly euthanizing a terminally ill infant in extreme pain and indiscriminately killing infants in a neonatal care unit. Our current legal and ethical framework already provides us with the tools to make these distinctions. Consequently, my opponent's main argument has crumbled and, therefore, I have managed to successfully demonstrate why infanticide should be legal in the United States.

Sources:
1. http://www.brusselsjournal.com...
2. Warren, Mary Anne. The Moral and Legal Status of Abortion. 1973. On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion. Vol. 57. La Salle, Illinois: The Monist, 1973. (pp. 97-105)
3. http://www.nytimes.com...
sherlockmethod

Con

I am at a loss. Freeman's last round is one of stellar quality. Freeman has brought forth several great positions, but this round is a conclusion, not one for full argumentation. I have always been clear: I am not concerned with the points in judgment as much as I am with learning more from the debate itself. But I respect the position that any point I bring forward in this final round allows no response from my opponent. I generally put forth a statement that "my opponent presented arguments in his last round so I am well within DDO standards to respond." But Freeman's response requires more than that simple statement. My loss is that I must respond; Freeman deserves nothing less. I concede the conduct point by rebutting fully this round instead of concluding. His response is too well done as to deserve anything less; points be damned.

Pro's points on my lack of compelling arguments notwithstanding, I find them fully rational. And, as I expected, Pro never wrote the law I asked for in the previous round; so many seem to be unwilling to make their legal principle a law.

C1: I have tried for hours to access the article Pro linked but cannot read it as it keeps timing out so I must use other sources http://content.nejm.org...
(I do not mean Pro is being deceitful, just that I can't access the article for some reason and I really do want to read it).

Other countries: After reading and reviewing the legal procedures for these countries (above reference), I conclude that these laws have no bearing on the US Constitution, which is the point of my contention, so they are irrelevant to this debate. The legal ramifications I predict should not occur in countries without the US Constitution and US legal framework, to suggest otherwise is silly. I see no need to address this further.

Pro wrote, "[E]ven tons of medical assistance cannot meaningfully improve their wellbeing". I never said anything about improving their wellbeing. Allowing one to die with no pain is the best that can be offered sometimes; however, if one can be said to "suffer" which is different that just feeling pain then are they not worthy to be at least a "person" under the law meant to protect all US citizens?

"It is a matter of the greatest importance that more research be conducted to better determine what it is to live with conditions that cause serious suffering other than pain. In the absence of such research, physicians might succumb to the biases of the able-bodied, who tend to think disability is much worse than disabled people actually find it. That said, the fact remains that on rare occasions, a doctor can find herself in a situation in which she has good reason to believe that her obligation to prevent suffering outweighs her duty to protect her newborn patient's life." http://www.medscape.com...

Let us know when you figure it out, until then let doctors do what doctors do; provide the best care they can.

Self Defense: My opponent, yet again, offered a legal argument in reference to self defense. Self defense is an affirmative defense under US law (a state crime so I did not link 50 laws; the MPC will suffice in this matter). The attacker is no less human or a person and has as much of an expectation of life as anyone else. An affirmative defense such as self defense puts the protection of the potential victim's life in higher regard than one committing a crime. Disabled infants have committed no such crime. This analogy is one I do not recommend using again unless Pro is willing to prosecute infants for the crime of imperfection. At this point, my opponent and I are back to arguing about law – a topic he has skillfully managed to ignore in this debate.

C2: The US Constitution recognizes natural born citizens, and other citizens not born on our soil. A citizen cannot be anything other than a "person" under the law. So, yes, the US Constitution recognizes a person. Pro must remove this from the Constitution to satisfy his position. He has not even recognized the fact that he has to do so. Pro's claim against my stance of arbitrariness is a comparison of a rock to a person. Sadly for Pro, my point was a comparison between an infant that Pro found suitable and one he did not, both are alive; both are citizens. A terminal infant is more than a rock and constitutionally deserves better treatment than to be thrown away. Even animals far better than Pro's rock; as Justice Holmes said, "Even a dog knows the difference between being stumbled over and being kicked". You made the comparison of a natural born citizen to a rock, I did not.

The learned professor of philosophy, which Pro offers, did not provide the definition with Constitutional restraints in mind, but you, Pro, presented this debate in such a manner. Her definition of personhood does not pass Constitutional muster, as well formulated as it may be. And this debate is about the law in the US. Her point, absent a corollary legal definition applied to citizen/person has no bearing here.

Death Panels: Unlike Sarah Palin, I did my research. She did not read the law, but I made it the focus of my position (as you made this debate a legal one). Sarah Palin could not name a Supreme Court decision she disagreed with other than Roe v Wade, I can name over twenty. My argument is not one of a distant, unreasonable, slippery slope or ignorant misinterpretations of law from a journalism student who could not handle an interview with anyone other than Sean Hannity without embarrassing herself. Mine is one of the inabilities of proponents of "should" in applying their principles to a reasoned body of law under the US Constitution. Until you, Pro, can do so then your law should be rejected. You have not met your burden.

In closing, I have the privilege of loving a person everyday who deals with the infants that others hope to never see. Her job is one of joy and heartache and I admire her for what she does and I do not think I could do it myself. If you see a labor/delivery nurse or doctor out one day, buy them a beer or shake his hand. They all deserve it.

In closing, Pro has not met the burden required. No law has been presented and a proponent of a "should" statement needs to recognize and apply the offered principle to the legal framework in such a law is to be applied.

"There, but for the grace of God, goes Sherlock Holmes."

Very Truly Yours,
SherlockMethod.
Debate Round No. 3
42 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by sherlockmethod 3 years ago
sherlockmethod
Wow,
I didn't know folks were still reading this one. Thank you for the well thought out RFD. Long before taking this debate, my brother, a history grad, and I had a discussion concerning "moral trends" in the US and we discussed how the administration of some laws on certain morally divisive issues (slavery, abortion, death penalty, etc.) may have a larger affect on "moral trends" than, say, shifts in education, cultural influences and so on.

When I saw this debate I decided to examine the the "should" aspect of a moral/legal issue and only frame it in terms of the Constitution. Could I show that legal woes would make such a law undesirable in a purely legal framework? Meh, it was worth a shot to look at Freeman's responses and some in the comments. I am still undecided.

Thank you for your thoughts, Lwerd.
Posted by Danielle 3 years ago
Danielle
- Pt. 1 -

Very interesting debate...

Honestly, I didn't really feel bias one way or another at the start because I wasn't sure what exact conditions had to be met to be considered infanticide. If I did feel a bias, it was most likely toward Pro (I only mention this because I feel it's the responsible thing to mention in any RFD), most likely based on the grounds that I support abortion. After the first round, however, I actually was swayed in Con's position not so much on his argument that Pro was obligated to debate more legal terms (though I kept it in mind), but insofar he was able to provide examples where suffering infants went on to live happy and/or functional lives. At that point I felt pretty favorable of Con's argument.

I was impressed by Pro's response in R2 arguing the legality aspect by challenging the notion that one with extremely limited function did not possess a serious right to life, even if the law said they did (though he gave an example where the law was in his favor). The moral and legal argument source he provided was a good note too. However then I felt his argument sort of went down the gray area of suggesting all infants... or a blurry line of disabled infants... not really being considered persons. I expected Con to comeback in the next round and attack this notion by giving a moral justification for why even disabled persons are still persons (and, given his articulation from the previous round, I was sure he'd be convincing).

However in R2 Con's argument took a turn. Specifically "I am saying that implementation of an unnecessary law with all the changes needed to allow for it under our current legal framework does not survive a simple cost/benefit analysis." In other words, his argument was that morality should be completely irrelevant because all that mattered was whether or not it was worth it to go through the annoying bureaucratic processes...? Ick.
Posted by Danielle 3 years ago
Danielle
- Pt. 2 -

Regardless, one important thing I noted from Con's R2 were his comments in the very beginning noting that he wasn't relying on circular logic in supporting the constitution just becuase... and yet he refused to make a moral argument (essentially not answering the question) of why morality should not be valued over the constitution (or why the current standard should apply). So, after the second round I was pretty convinced Pro was ahead.

As Con said in the final round, Pro delivered a great third round. Con's final defense was still the fact that Pro never provided a specific legal standard (law) to be changed; however, I wasn't convinced that Pro had to do this. The current law shouldn't matter; what SHOULD be matters. All in all I understood what Con was getting at, but he didn't defend Pro's arguments much regardless. Despite a very strong start, Con ultimately forfeited the arguments. Pro fulfilled his burden.
Posted by Freeman 4 years ago
Freeman
Why did you have to mess up my perfect score with your vote? I won this debate even with Catholics voting. That should say something.
Posted by kiraservant 4 years ago
kiraservant
yes well im just saying my opinion
Posted by dankeyes11 4 years ago
dankeyes11
Well that's partly why this debate took place ;) Although the age is up for debate as well - most would say 4 is plenty old, but is 6 months? I'm not advocating any position, just saying that it is reasonable to debate "personhood" under many different criteria.

Dan
Posted by kiraservant 4 years ago
kiraservant
if a person is someone that can think and live alone and not depend on people then why cant we kill babies under the age of 4? that fits perfectly with that logic.
Posted by dankeyes11 4 years ago
dankeyes11
I'm sure that, according to your definition of a "person" or a human being, that the fetus would qualify. However, considering that your sole qualifying criteria for personhood is that it looks like a person, you might have difficulty convincing others who define the terms with criteria other than simply appearance. While it's great that you have your own definition of a person, how can you expect everyone else to share your definition? Some would argue that personhood requires the ability to survive on one's own, or to think rationally, or to use language. These requirements may seem ridiculous to you, but they are just as arbitrary as your criteria. Ultimately, there is no objective definition of a person, legally or philosophically, and arguments about abortion and infanticide will continue to exist until a consensus is reached.
Posted by kiraservant 4 years ago
kiraservant
a baby inside a mother is a human being. even if it just started. its still a child and hurting it or killing it is wrong. its a small human child. some people say its not a child till it takes its first breath out of the womb. thats just BS. you can clearly tell that its a child. ultrasounds and stuff you can see a child on the picture. its human and its a person
Posted by dankeyes11 4 years ago
dankeyes11
@kellwi: Fair enough. I was simply curious as to whether you would defend the value as objective or subjective, and furthermore on what philosophy you were basing the premise. I don't know if I'd go so far as to give life intrinsic value (as money certainly does not have intrinsic value either), but I do agree with the money metaphor in terms of value relative to the eyes of the beholder. In terms of the gravity example, it raises an interesting question about how much certainty is required before one must use faith to bridge the gap. I certainly don't know the answer to that. One might say that there is either sufficient evidence to suggest that gravity will operate properly or enough inductive probability. However, past events do not necessitate future events, so evidence and probability might not be enough to keep one from strapping in for the night. (Wish I was further along in philosophy to give this one its due explanation).

Anyway, thanks for the response!

Dan
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