The Instigator
kayla.henderson
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
CASmnl42
Con (against)
Winning
23 Points

Pro-choice

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
CASmnl42
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/9/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 467 times Debate No: 69684
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (5)

 

kayla.henderson

Pro

I am pro-choice, because I believe that every woman has the right to her own body, and that no government or person in Congress should be allowed to make that decision for her.
1) Life doesn't begin at conception. I would argue it begins around 25 weeks, which is when brain activity is detectable.
2) The possibility for life is not life. Meaning, a fetus is a possibility for a human, not life. Just like an egg is not a chicken.
3) If abortion is murder, miscarriage should be manslaughter.
CASmnl42

Con

Thank you for posting this debate topic. I hope we will both enjoy finding some new ground to discuss on this subject. Because you have begun by listing several arguments, I will respond to those arguments in this round.

I am playing devil's advocate in this debate - I am actually firmly committed to pro-choice politics. I have chosen to debate the "Con" position in order to argue in favor of a federalist, democratic approach to abortion rights in the United States. Con rejects the typical American pro-choice position that access to abortion is a properly recognized constitutional right. Con remains neutral as to the morality of abortion, and as to the desirability of enhancing or restricting access to abortion.

Con will advance the position that in a democratic society, the people, through their elected representatives, should be able to weigh the competing interests between women and unborn children and adopt appropriate legislation concerning abortion which reflects the will of the electorate in a jurisdiction. The legislative authority of society to make these judgments should not be constitutionally restricted.

I will now turn to the arguments you raised in your opening:

A) "[E]very woman has the right to her own body"

A common refutation to this argument is to note that there are many legal restrictions on what a person may do with her body. One cannot legally injest controlled substances or engage in consentual incest, even though these actions do no harm to others.

I'll use a conjectural example in order to illustrate my contribution to this common argument: extreme body modification. Although not specifically prohibited by law in any jurisdiction that I can locate, I would submit that a person who wishes to voluntarily amputate a healthy limb for the sake of a fashion statement would be morally condemned by large swaths of society. I have little doubt that if a prohibition of such behavior came to a vote, it would pass with large majorities of both parties.

This conjecture illustrates the principle that legislatures give legal force to the moral judgments of a society. Those moral judgments are not solely rooted in whether something is voluntary or causes harm to others - society may judge an action worthy of condemnation (and thus legal prohibition) based on other moral dimensions, such as the cultural value of bodily integrity (and revulsion at seeing such a norm violated).

B) "[N]o government or person in Congress should be allowed to make that decision for her."

Why not? Governments - particularly state governments - make many decisions for each of us. Governments are able to dictate what chemicals we may put in our bodies, how many hours we may work, what we must be paid, what we must pay in taxes, how we must be educated, etc. State governments have plenary police power - broad authority to regulate health, safety, welfare, and morals. This power is effectively limited by only two factors: 1) constitutional rights, like free speech, that cannot be infringed, and 2) democratic accountability, in that elected officials who govern beyond their mandate are accountable to the citizenry at the ballot box.

Since Roe v. Wade, abortion has been walled off in the constitutional fortress of rights that cannot be infringed, regardless of popular will. The theoretical justification for this right is found in the "substantive due process" clause of the 5th and 14th Amendments, which states that no one shall be "deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law." What "liberties" fall within this clause is a difficult question. In the modern era, the courts have often found that the fundamental rights protected by this clause include the rights to marry, to birth control, to refuse medical treatment, along with the right to abortion. What no court has done, however, is articulate a consistent theory of what makes a right "fundamental" and thus worthy of protection.

In an earlier era of American jurisprudence - the Lochner era - a more conservative Supreme Court favored economic rights as "fundamental" rights under the due process clause. The Court struck down minimum wage laws, child labor laws, and industry regulations on the grounds that they infringed on fundamental rights of free persons to make contracts. This era is universally scorned today by both liberals and conservatives as a bygone era in which the Court simply conjured new constitutional rights from thin air in an effort to thwart popular economic legislation that conflicted with the justices' conservative, laissez-faire capitalistic ideology.

The problem is that today's "fundamental" privacy rights have no more sound legal or logical basis than yesterday's "fundamental" economic ones. When the ideology of the Court changed, so did society's "fundamental" rights. When ideologies change again, what happens to the "fundamental" rights we enjoy today? Any sense that abortion rights are secure is illusory, once five justices decide to the contrary.

A far less disruptive, and more democratically responsive, solution would be to allow the difficult question of abortion to work itself out in the normal democratic process of compromise between competing interests as expressed via the legislature. While "rights" would still be subject to change - even dramatic change - they would change responsive to the citizenry and reflective of society's moral judgment. The legislative moral judgment concerning abortion would vary from state to state to reflect the unique character of each state's polity.

1) Life doesn't begin at conception. I would argue it begins around 25 weeks, which is when brain activity is detectable.

I would submit that we need clarity in our terms here. Those who oppose abortion have a legitimate argument that life begins at conception, as that is the moment that a new, distinct human being is formed. The pro-choice position is less about when life begins biologically, but when the status of "personhood" ought to be conferred on that new life. In other words, the crucial question is not scientific, but social: it is about who ought to be considered a person upon whom society confers rights.

I agree with you that detectable brain activity marks a reasonable point for conferring personhood status. But there are other rationally justifiable points out there that make just as much sense. In Roe v. Wade, the line was drawn at fetal viability. Jewish tradition puts the line at the "quickening," or the moment fetal movement is first felt by the mother. Fetal heartbeats, pain thresholds, the moment of birth -- all of these represent lines that can be rationally justified, and not one of them is obviously superior to the others.

When a society must select between multiple reasonable options on an issue of controversy, the best way to do so is through the judgment of a legislature. The line drawn may be arbitrary - as was the line drawn in Roe - but legislatures excel at drawing arbitrary lines. If the citizenry finds the lines drawn by the legislature to be inappropriate, they can obtain new legislators.

2) The possibility for life is not life. Meaning, a fetus is a possibility for a human, not life. Just like an egg is not a chicken.

I'll reiterate that the key distinction is not life, but personhood. A fetus is undeniably a human life biologically, in a way that sperm and unfertilized eggs are not.

3) If abortion is murder, miscarriage should be manslaughter.

I think you mean this point to be absurd, but it is not. In many states, a miscarriage induced by negligent or intentional harm to a fetus is criminally punished in a way analogous to manslaughter. As of Feb. 2013, at least 38 states had fetal homicide laws on the books. I personally find these laws abhorent, but they are logically consistent with the pro-life viewpoints of the citizens in many states that support these bills.

With that, I return the floor to you to await your response. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1
kayla.henderson

Pro

kayla.henderson forfeited this round.
CASmnl42

Con

My opponent has forfeited Round 2. I extend all my arguments. If my opponent forfeits Round 3, I will post a brief conclusion requesting your vote.
Debate Round No. 2
kayla.henderson

Pro

kayla.henderson forfeited this round.
CASmnl42

Con

My opponent has forfeited two rounds consecutively and has not addressed my case. I set forth a well-reasoned argument for why the people of each state, through their legislatures, are the more appropriate forum for resolving disputes about access to abortion than the traditional pro-choice position of enshrining access to abortion as a constitutionally-protected, though vaguely-sourced, right. Please vote for Con.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Andrea39 1 year ago
Andrea39
I am pro life and although my beliefs stay rock solid.... I was very captivated by the person taking the con position. This is a very emotionally charged subject and most people wouldn't have the the self discipline to do what your doing. Thank you for the education today:)
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 1 year ago
dsjpk5
kayla.hendersonCASmnl42Tied
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Vote Placed by lannan13 1 year ago
lannan13
kayla.hendersonCASmnl42Tied
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Vote Placed by Zarroette 1 year ago
Zarroette
kayla.hendersonCASmnl42Tied
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Vote Placed by TBR 1 year ago
TBR
kayla.hendersonCASmnl42Tied
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Vote Placed by RavenDebater 1 year ago
RavenDebater
kayla.hendersonCASmnl42Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF