Resolved: Abortion Laws violate Human Rights Law
Resolved: Countries which have ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and currently permit abortions, have contradicted their obligation to uphold the Human Rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (link: http://www.un.org...).
First round is acceptance. Second round for presenting opening arguments. Third round for rebuttals. Fourth round for brief rebuttals and closing summation of your respective position.
I look forward to an interesting debate!
I thank my opponent for accepting this debate, and look forward to a great discussion! Now for my opening arguments.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by the United Nations in 1948. In subsequent decades, these rights have come to encompass both negative and positive rights. We are primarily concerned with Article III of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." The Right to Life, therefore, is established as a Human Right, something everyone is entitled to as per Article II of the same Declaration.
But where do these Human Rights come from? Human Rights can come from three main places: 1) God, 2) The Government, or 3) the very fact that someone is Human, in and of itself.
If Rights come from God, which God do they come from? Are they exclusively reserved for those who believe in that God, or are they extended to all Humanity regardless? And if they are extended to all Humanity regardless, what is the difference between saying they come from God, and saying they come from the very fact someone is Human? We can, therefore, put aside the assertion Rights come from God, for there are many Gods and Religions in this world, and if we cannot determine which God they originate from, they must come from every God, or no God at all. If they come from every God, we cannot assume the same rights come from each God, and if the same rights don't come from each God, there is no Universality to Human Rights.
If Rights come from the Government, we can again say that there is no Universality. For if Rights are bestowed upon people by the Government, different Governments may choose differrent Human Rights, and neglect others, or choose to uphold no Human Rights at all.
We are, therefore left with the conclusion that Human Rights come from the very fact that someone is Human, in and of itself. Now we come to a crucial question: What does it mean to be human?
This is an age-old question, but for the purpose of this argument, we will consider the two main sides:
1)That to be human is to be able to reason, moralize, and rationalize; or
2)That to be human is to be biologically of the Human Species.
In Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN implicitly endorsed the first interpretation, by stating that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
To summarize, Human Rights are rights that we are entitled to because we are Human, that is, we are endowed with reason and conscience. The Right to Life is a Human Right.
There are inevitably problems with this. First, what of disabled or comatose people? They have niether the capacity to reason, nor a conscience in their state, yet we afford them certain Human Rights. Children also, especially infants, have niether the capacity to reason, nor a conscience. Yet, we afford them Human Rights as well.
Clearly, Human Rights are not awarded based on the capacity or ability to Reason or moralize alone, but also the potential to Reason, to develop a Conscience.
Now, we come to the crux of the argument. A Fetus, or an embryo for that matter, does not have the capacity to Reason, nor does it have a conscience. Yet, it arguably has more potential for these essential characteristics of Humanity than, say, a Comatose individual, or someone with severe Down Syndrome. Therefore, we should, by logic, afford the Fetus or embryo the basic Right to Life, a Human Right.
I eagerly await my opponent's response.
When reviewing the context of laws one must understand there is a multiple views on how laws either violates or empowers individuals. I agree completely that religion and the state are not the main source of Human Rights. But I also do no believe that humans right "comes from" simply from people being born. Human rights come from human's either natural occurring or learnt moral and ethical beliefs.
One may even call it the "soul" as its source. It is humanities ethical beliefs that makes us strive to implement rights for all man kind. It is your moral beliefs coming from the numerous social, independent, working,religious, love and family experiences that makes us humans strive to provide better standards for each other. If human rights were made 500 years ago, the right to and education (article 26 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights) would never have been added on as a human right. The right to practice your own religion in peace(article 18 in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights) would never have been acceptable in the majority of the world's zealous view. One must only read any history book about the religious persecution during the protestant reformation or the world history of public education to grasp that the above statements are true.
Human rights were not created by being born. They are created by the collective opinions of individuals at a time granting what they believed was good should be available to all people. It is the human SPIRIT, that allows the masses to write down these laws, accept these laws and abide by them every day. A child born with defects still has the rights because humans accepted him as a human. A person in comatose is accepted as human not because he was supposed to have "reason and conscience". He is accepted as a Human because he was born, alive and fighting. He was given the privilege all humans have, The one of Life.
An embryo or fetus is on the other hand not accepted as a fully functioning human. It has not been born yet and it is not considered human yet. To say that killing an embryo is violating human rights is to say that killing sperm every time someone has sex is a violation of human rights. An embryo simply a zygote(cell created from 2 parent's gametes) that has divided it self multiple times and has the good chance of becoming alive. It is just like the spermatozoa I mentioned, which also have a chance at becoming alive(though to be fair a far less chance if I say so myself).
Should humanity be forced to make each and every sperm a living human being. Of course not, that would cause humanity to over populate and then die off as a species. This is the same for an embryo. It is not a living human being, so why should it receive human rights. It has no memories, no experience, it has even never had its first breath. It is a clump of cells that has as much potential as a sperm cell. Abortion is not violating human rights, it is saving it from overpopulation.
I thank my opponent for his timely and swift response. I now move to my rebuttals.
"Human rights were not created by being born. They are created by the collective opinions of individuals at a time granting what they believed was good should be available to all people."
If human rights are not intrinsic, then they are not universal. If we allow the collective opinions of individuals at a time to determine Human Rights, that means that Human Rights themselves are subjective and relative. If we accept this view, we cannot indict such countries as Saudi Arabia for their suppression of Women's rights, nor can we indict countries like China for their suppression of free speech and free press. If all it takes to grant human rights is for society to accept someone as human, we can argue that countries that practice slavery are not open to criticism, for their society does not accept slaves as human, and thus does not need to extend human rights to them.
Likewise, following my opponent's logic, an embryo or fetus need only be accepted as human to experience human rights. Given that it is biologically human, will develop into a human capable of reason, speech, and morality, what good reason do we have to deny it Human Rights? The fact that it doesn't look like a Human? The fact that it doesn't reason as we expect it to? The fact that it doesn't have the same thought capability as an adult human? The fact that it cannot speak or make sounds similar to what we expect Humans to? All of these qualifications are subjective in and of themselves. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states unequivocally that ALL humans are to enjoy the rights listed in the document. It also describes the rights as "inalienable," and "fundamental." All of this runs counter to the assertion that Human Rights are subjective, dependent upon the society of the day. Furthermore, the document states in the Second article "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind..."
"To say that killing an embryo is violating human rights is to say that killing sperm every time someone has sex is a violation of human rights. An embryo simply a zygote(cell created from 2 parent's gametes) that has divided it self multiple times and has the good chance of becoming alive. It is just like the spermatozoa I mentioned, which also have a chance at becoming alive(though to be fair a far less chance if I say so myself)."
This analogy is fundamentally flawed. A zygote, left on its own in the right conditions, will become a human infant. This is what makes it a zygote. Put a spermatozoa in the same conditions, and it will not become a human infant. A spermatozoa requires the egg in order to make life. A zygote is the fertilized egg, it requires nothing more than the mother's womb to make life.
For the same reason, the argument so often put forth by proponents of the pro-choice movement that a fetus is similar to clump cells, or that an embryo is alike to menstrual bleeding, is also incorrect. The zygote WILL develop into a human infant. It may die in the womb, but it is fundamentally different from any other cell in the human body. It is not merely a clump of cells, it is life developing. A zygote consists of independent genetic material, and the building blocks to make life. Clumps of skin cells or spermatozoa lack complete building blocks to make life, and sperm only have half the puzzle.
1) My opponent would make Human Rights subjective, dependent upon the whims of society at the time, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states otherwise. Furthermore, along with that position comes multiple problems. If Human Rights are subjective, and dependent upon society at the time, then slavery was perfectly acceptable, and there was nothing justifying the Emancipation Proclamation or any other Abolitionist movements. Likewise, if a society were to suddenly accept a different species as human, we would extend all societal human rights to that species as well, regardless of the fact that they are not actually human.
2) My opponent's classification of a zygote as akin to spermatozoa ignores the fact that a zygote in a womb, alone, will generate life, while a spermatozoa in a womb alone will not. A spermatozoa requires an egg, and as such is fundamentally different from a zygote, an already fertilized egg. Becase a zygote is life, in the process of developing, and furthermore, because it is Human life, we must extend it Human Rights as laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to maintain Abortion Laws while being signatories to the Declaration is to fail in our obligation to uphold those rights.
I look forward to my opponent's response.
Before I start my rebuttals I would like to clarify some terms.
of, affecting, or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group; applicable to all cases.
Now to begin, I would like to start off by defending the statement my opponent either misunderstood or is trying to misrepresent in this round.
"Human rights were not created by being born. They are created by the collective opinions of individuals at a time granting what they believed was good should be available to all people."
This comment was simply clarifying that human rights were CREATED by humans, not that they are only for certain people. My opponent stated "If human rights are not intrinsic, then they are not universal." but this is unfortunately not only incorrect but also contradictory. If human rights were intrinsic (naturally occurring, essential) then it would be pointless to write down and enforce something that should be natural. In other words the Human Rights are the result of man kinds ingenuity and will to create a better world for one another, not nature's will. Now you may ask, well that means that they are not universal then. That also is not true, as if you look at the definition of universal you will see that what makes something universal is not that it is naturally occurring, but rather it effects and is applicable to all human beings. This is similar to sense that murder, though is naturally occurring in many species, is universally known as being wrong.
Also to be known is that the Human Rights of 1948 was drafted by representatives of people from many nations. My opponent stated that "If we allow the collective opinions of individuals at a time to determine Human Rights that means that Human Rights themselves are subjective and relative." He has completely ignored the fact that these “individuals” who draft these laws in a voting system of the UN are ones that were elected and represent the COLECTIVE OPPINION of the people they represent. To say that these individuals who make the Human Rights are completely subjective and relative is to say that any modern democratic government does not represent its people at all and that government is simply an organization that controls society at its whims with little or no regard to there fellow humans.
Now what I must admit has been a flaw in both my opponent’s and I’s arguments is that they are often situational. It is true that a sperm needs a female egg to become a zygote, but it is also true that a zygote needs to have a womb to become a human. And unlike a zygote, a human that is on life support or who has a handicapped does not rely on any circumstantial evidence that they are human. A zygote is reliant on the fact that it is still in the womb to be classified as a human, but as soon as a miscarriage or any other event happens to end in its death, it is not treated as nor, at a fundamental thought of a human. There is no funeral, no passing of rites, no burial or any sort of way to pay homage to the zygote. The only thing it had is potential to grow into human, something with modern sciences such as cloning is now possible (though maybe unethical) with almost all cells. Also it is possible to mix with human cells with other animal cells, to create a cross species cell, such as the HeLa cells (human) being mixed with a mouse’s cell in 1965. Should these abominations, which contain human DNA be considered HUMAN? Medicine and experimentation has changed the way the world is seen so much, that it is not possible anymore to consider something human because it’s DNA. A clump of cells is not human.
A zygote is not human. A functioning individual, with multiple characteristics, including DNA is what a human is. And the belief that a person on life support is not a functioning individual is a complete misrepresentation of what being human is. The person on life support is capable of breathing, digestion, and movement (like the heart) though it may die without support. An embryo and early stage fetuses are not. To clarify what I mean, there is a point in a pregnancy where it becomes illegal to abort a fetus because it is considered living, capable of thought, higher understanding and other such aspects that a regular cell such as muscle cells are not. It is before this point where abortion is ethical, simply because the cells that are killed off are considered the same as skin or muscle cells.
In summary, do not be tricked in believing that a clump of cells that can become human is human. Human DNA isn’t the only factor that makes someone human, and may other factors that are not purely fact driven, such as the human reasoning and soul should be considered.
First, I'd like to thank my opponent for a stimulating and thoroughly entertaining debate! It was wonderful to discuss this topic with you, and I hope we can debate more topics in the future! I now move to my final rebuttals and my summary of my position and closing arguments.
If human rights were intrinsic (naturally occurring, essential) then it would be pointless to write down and enforce something that should be natural[S1]
[S1]On the contrary, many things that are natural are at first not completely obvious or observable. Just because we can’t or don’t recognize them as natural does not change the fact that they are intrinsic. Implicit in my opponent’s statement is the notion that Human rights are bestowed upon others by humans themselves. If human rights are bestowed by humans, they can be taken away by humans. What use is there in having Human Rights then? Why refer to them as “fundamental” or “inalienable?” This is what makes Human Rights universal, the fact that they cannot be taken away completely, they can only be restricted. A government like China may have laws restricting freedom of speech, but that does not stop Chinese citizens from exercising their right to Freedom of Speech clandestinely.
[S1]Firstly, the representatives at the UN for each country are not elected at all. They are appointed. Secondly, a Democratic Election rarely has one candidate win 100% of the vote. Most democratic elections are won with far less percentage, especially national elections. Therefore, the elected officials do not represent the opinions and preferences of those who voted against them, only those who voted for them.
Now what I must admit has been a flaw in both my opponent’s and I’s arguments is that they are often situational. It is true that a sperm needs a female egg to become a zygote, but it is also true that a zygote needs to have a womb to become a human. And unlike a zygote, a human that is on life support or who has a handicapped does not rely on any circumstantial evidence that they are human...[S1] .
[S1]If we follow my oponent’s logic, that because a zygote needs to have a womb to become human it cannot be considered human, infants need food and shelter in order to grow into a fully developed human. They lack a complete bone structure, and are still developing. Are they not human then? We treat them as human, define them as human. Slaves had no funeral, no passing of rites, no burial in some cases. Did that make them any less human? My point is that we cannot arbitrarily decide “Bam, that’s a human!” What makes us human is not that someone else reconizes us as such, but our very nature as members of the Homo Sapien Sapien species.
A functioning individual, with multiple characteristics, including DNA is what a human is. And the belief that a person on life support is not a functioning individual is a complete misrepresentation of what being human is[S1]
[S1]My opponent has just contradicted himself. A person on life support cannot function on their own, otherwise they would not be on life support. They need artificial breathing, artificial supplication of nutrients. They can only breath and digest. My opponent has unwittingly lead me to my point, and my point is that when you start to arbitrarily define a human as something capable of certain actions and not capable of others, you immediately establish what it means to be human as subjective, and not universal. You immediately run into problems with comatose individuals, those who no longer think and reason, yet may do so in the near future. To say that an embryo is not human because it is not a “functioning individual, with multiple characteristics, including DNA,” is to say that a comatose individual is not human. If you believe as such, you cannot be against the killing of comatose people on principle. Nor can you be against infanticide, or the active killing of newborns, for they too are incapable of providing for their own nutrients or livelihood.
[S1]I have already established that zygotes are extremely different from skin or muscle cells. If a zygote is not human, what is it? Is it dog? Is it a cat? Is it a bacteria? Is it simply a cell? But if it is simply a cell, or a clump of cells, why is it capable of developing into a human? This is very different from skin cells. Skin cells cannot develop into a human. Nor can muscle cells. Clearly, a zygote is not simply a clump of cells. It is life. It is independent of the mother. Next, if the soul is to be considered, what evidence do you have that it is not bestowed upon the zygote immediately upon conception? What evidence do you have of a soul to beginwith?
I thank my opponent for all of his arguments, being one of the best debates I have participated in. It was without a doubt a challenge and I extend my gratitude for his time and effort to make this a great debate. Now on to my final attack!
“If human rights were intrinsic (naturally occurring, essential) then it would be pointless to write down and enforce something that should be natural”
It is all well and fair to believe that human rights are something that is intrinsic, but one easily forgets that men and women all over have their rights taken away from them. It is unfortunate but it is a fact of life, that the world is a cruel place filled with competition. If one can better his own situation at the expense of others he will easily do so unless he is a strong individual. An example of this is the killing of female babies in India, where females are considered a financial burden and are often killed at birth by their own parents alleviate their own financial burden. My opponent said “If human rights are bestowed by humans, they can be taken away by humans.” This is true around the world, they can be taken away by humans if no one enforces them. Many wars have been fought in the human effort to enforce it (Balkan Wars anyone?). What makes human rights universal is that humanity will strive to suppress those who try to break those fundamental rights, that those who believe in those rights will enforce them at all cost. It is the human effort to force dictators to provide these basic rights, even if it goes against the human nature to risk one’s own life for the good of others.
“The UN document leaves no room for a societal interpretation of Human Rights when it uses words like “Inalienable.” I unfortunately have to disagree on this statement my opponent posted due to the fact the majority of our debate was whether or not a zygote was considered a human. It gives the world of social interpretation, which improves as the world views and standards progress. Education is a basic human right, yet one can argue what level of education is mandatory by people. And it is true that this makes human rights subjective to some extent, it would be impossible for them not to” but that doesn’t mean that it cannot become universal. If you refer to the definition posted in an earlier part of the debate, all that requires something to become universal is that they are applicable to everyone. The current human rights of the UN is very broad in the sense of what level of standards must be set, but they lack subjections that most other human works do due to the different opposing viewpoints cancelling each other.
Now as for the DNA defining a person, what would you consider a deceased person? A deceased person such as one who has been incinerated has no trace of DNA. Should he be considered a pile ash and have no right of passing of rights. Of course not. It is not the potential to become something that makes someone human. The potential of a zygote to become human does not make it human, the potential for a comatose person to come back to consciousness does not make them human. What makes a human can be summarized in one definitive trait that no other species can replicate. A human contains basic functions, such as having human organ systems, most definitively a brain. No other species has the brain capacity or ability like ours. No human comatosed, infant or slave lacked a brain. Zygotes do not have a brain. It is the brain that establishes our ability for reasoning and logic that allows us to preform basic living functions. This goes deep into the debate whether and AI could be considered a living thing. If a human had a robotic brain implanted in its body, would it still be considered human? A dead human “had a brain” hence it was considered human. It is this simple organ that makes and defines what is special about a human.
A person on life support cannot function on their own, otherwise they would not be on life support.
This argument was one that was constantly used in our debate countless of times. It is clear that a person on life support cannot function on their own accord, but if one were to cut off life support and that person were to die off they would still be considered as a human A zygote on the other hand would not, for it has not brain.
As to cloning, if we perfect it, clones would be independent of the parent human. They would be capable of their own independent thought. If they originate in a lab or a womb, does that bestow human rights? I argue no, and origination is irrelevant.
The statement my opponent made completely and utterly contradicts himself. For starters the last line implies that the origin of where a human comes from is irrelevant. In this case the fact that a zygote from a womb is irrelevant implies that it is not necessarily human. This is where cloning makes his argument contradict himself more. Cloning does not use 2 gametes but rather it uses the stem cells to recreate itself. When would that clone cell be considered officially human? The moment it starts to replicate like a zygote? Should this unethical experiment not be stopped even though that stem cell is developing into a human? Of course it should, as long as the created human is incapable of thought and emotions. People on life support are often let go because they have no chance of regaining consciousness. As to cloning, if we perfect it, clones would be independent of the parent human. They would be capable of their own independent thought. This is fatal to my opponent’s argument because this proves that he is accepting independent thought as what makes someone human. He explicitly states that they would be “capable of their own independent thought” Thus massively contradicting himself.
So in conclusion my stance of the issue is:
1)The Human Rights are universal and fundamental to all living humans
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