The Instigator
StatsAndFacts
Pro (for)
Tied
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The Contender
stschiffman
Con (against)
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Resolved - Abortion Should Be Legal

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/2/2016 Category: Health
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 335 times Debate No: 89101
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
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StatsAndFacts

Pro

This debate will be a classic abortion debate: should abortion be legal? I will be arguing on the side of legal abortion. First round is acceptance only.

Abortion - The termination of a pregnancy in which the fetus dies.
stschiffman

Con

I accept. Good luck.
Debate Round No. 1
StatsAndFacts

Pro

Thank you for your acceptance. I look forward to a great debate.

My arguments are as follows:

A fetus should not have the same rights as a sentient human being.

Simply because the fetus is alive, does not make it equal to a parent. Science shows that the traits that make a human, human, namely self-awareness, advanced cognitive thinking, and a certain degree of consciousness, does not develop until the fetus is 25 weeks old - this is just about at the end of the second trimester. (Some may argue this excludes the legality of third trimester abortion - however, the majority of these abortions occur because of life-threatening issues to the mother, or to both the mother and fetus. But I digress). One could then argue that before this stage, a fetus could be considered merely a parasite, dependent on its 'host' for life. An argument commonly made by the Pro-Life community is that 'if we found a single-celled organism on Mars, the headlines would read "Life on Mars". A baby in the womb is not considered alive'. However, this claim is a false conception. My argument is this: do we give the same consideration for single-celled organisms as we do human beings? We clearly do not. When we are infected by parasites, or viruses, do we stop and consider the moral obligation we have to keep it alive? No. We kill it with antibiotics, or our body fights it off. To argue that these are double standards between a fetus and an organism is untrue.

Speaking of double standards...

The Pro-Life community argues that a fetus is a human, from the moment of conception. But if this is true, aren't they focusing their energies on something more worthwhile for the protection of this human?

Let's look at the math.

From the moment of conception, namely, when a sperm unites with an egg cell, the fetus (or, at this point, the zygote) has a slim chance of surviving. The chances of implanting onto the uterine wall are slim - only 30-40% of zygotes do. The rest are carried out by the menstrual cycle and thus, by the logic of considering them humans, die. After implantation, there is approximately a 25-50% chance that the zygote is miscarried. This leaves us with, at best, only 30% of the zygotes conceived - at worst, only 15%. These are appalling statistics, since we are considering the zygotes to be people. By these numbers, we lose to the natural cycle over 1.5 million babies a year. In contrast, only 125,000 babies are aborted a day - that's approximately 7.8% of those lost naturally.

Surely, given these appalling numbers, the Pro-Life community should be devoting, at a minimum, the same number of resources towards preventing miscarriages and other natural losses of life as they do towards preventing abortion. The fact that they do not suggests that either they truly don't consider the life of a zygote worth that much time and energy, showing they don't truly believe it is a human, or the attention towards abortion is actually aimed at a cause other than saving the zygote - perhaps to condemn pre-marital sex or slow the progress of women or something along those lines. But surely, if the life of the zygote is truly their #1 concern, this issue should take priority over abortion prevention.

Thank you for your time.
stschiffman

Con

"Science shows that the traits that make a human, human, namely self-awareness, advanced cognitive thinking, and a certain degree of consciousness, does not develop until the fetus is 25 weeks old."
Just because a being is not as intelligent as a fully grown human does not make it's life obsolete. Animals are not as intelligent as humans, should animal abuse be legal? Should abusing the mentally disabled be legal?

"One could then argue that before this stage, a fetus could be considered merely a parasite..."
The following is the definition of the word "parasite": "An organism of one species living in or on an organism of another species and deriving its nourishment from the host." Keyword "ANOTHER", not "the same species". So, by definition, a fetus cannot be considered a parasite.

"When we are infected by parasites, or viruses, do we stop and consider the moral obligation we have to keep it alive?"
So, in your eyes, the life of a human being is no more valuable than the life of a tape worm, or even bacteria. If I misunderstood this statement by all means let me know, but I think if you really meant this, than this statement says a lot about you and the pro-choice cause in general.

"Surely, given these appalling numbers, the Pro-Life community should be devoting, at a minimum, the same number of resources towards preventing miscarriages and other natural losses of life as they do towards preventing abortion."`
What's your next argument. "Given the appalling number of cancer deaths, those working to combat HIV should be devoting, at a minimum, the same number of resources towards preventing cancer deaths as those do towards preventing HIV/AIDS related deaths." Point is, merely stating that other deaths happen is completely irrelevant and does not change the fact that 3,700 babies a day lose their lives to abortion.

And if you really want to talk double standards...

Why are most pro-choice people against the constitutional right to bear arms? How come homicides committed with guns matter so much when homicides committed in abortion clinics do not.
Why are most pro-choice people so adamantly against the United States stepping up the fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups? How come the lives of terrorists matter so much to you when the lives of innocent babies do not?
Why are mot pro-choice people so adamantly against the death penalty? For the record, I myself am against the death penalty, but I think it's absurd to claim the life of a convicted criminal is important while you allow babies to be killed on a daily basis.

"...perhaps to condemn pre-marital sex or slow the progress of women or something along those lines. "
I'm sorry, but this honestly made me laugh. This attempt at insulting us is not only completely irrelevant, but 100% baseless. On a more serious note, my answer is no. No, I am not pro-life simply to condone pre-marital sex, and I am not pro-life simply to "slow the progress of women or something along those lines." I hope you know that the majority of pro-life people I know are women; do you think other women want to slow down their own progress? I can't believe I have to explain this, but I guess I do.

Thank you for your time.
Debate Round No. 2
StatsAndFacts

Pro

My opponent stated that merely because a fetus is not as 'intelligent' as a fully grown human, it's life is not less precious. However, this was not the basis of my argument. My argument was more about the subconscious - such as self-awareness. These are the traits that differentiate people from animals or plants. My opponent then asked that if fetuses are comparable to animals, 'should animal abuse be legal? Should abusing the mentally disabled be legal?' Absolutely not. There is a difference between torture/abuse and the humane killing of something. We do it with criminals, with dogs with rabies, even just for sport! If we are to consider a fetus to not be truly a human yet (if my opponent wishes to argue that point, I invite them to), then killing it humanely certainly does not fall into the same category as animal abuse (a fetus can't feel pain until the 28th week of pregnancy, and most states require doctors to take measures to minimize the pain a fetus would be feeling after this time).

My opponent then said we cannot make the argument that a fetus is comparable to a parasite, as the definition of a parasite is an organism that lives on an organism of another species. However, I looked into it, and I could not find where you found the part of the definition where a parasite has to attach to a different species. The definition I found was 'an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host's expense' (no mention of different species). An alternate definition is 'an organism that lives on or in a host and gets its food from or at the expense of the host'. Please tell me where you found this definition and I will certainly reconsider that argument if it seems inaccurate.

My opponent went on to say that, by comparing the life of a fetus to the life of a parasite, I was saying the life of a person and such a parasite are equal. That is not at all what I was saying; I had already explained my belief that a fetus is not necessarily a person. Again, if you wish to argue with me on this point, feel free.

Next, my opponent countered my claim that the Pro-Life community should devote at least the same number of resources towards preventing miscarriages and other natural causes of death in fetuses as abortions, as the natural cycle takes far more lives than abortions. They compared it to saying those working on cures for HIV should devote the same number of resources towards curing cancer, as it claims so many lives. However, this is not a fair comparison. For one thing, there ARE people working to cure cancer. Although there is some scientific work done to try to predict miscarriages, or to help get a woman pregnant (by which I mean artificial insemination and the like), there seems to be very little done to prevent the deaths of zygotes in early stages. Even if there is, it is certainly not receiving any of the publicity and public support as cancer is. But that's not what I wanted you to take away from this. My point was that if the Pro-Life community is truly focused on saving the life of EVERY fetus, they should focus on every cause rather than one specific, comparatively small part of the problem.

Then, my opponent stated that the Pro-Choice community tends to favor more government interference in other aspects of life. Although this is not really what this debate should be about (this reaches towards a broader scale of general liberal beliefs) I will do my best to counter all the claims:
Liberals are not against the right to bear arms. We merely think there should be more gun control because of high homicide rates. Because we don't consider fetuses to really be people, we don't consider abortions 'homicides'.
We are against fighting ISIS because we are concerned about the lives of our soldiers and people, not the lives of terrorists. (For the record, I'm for military intervention with ISIS - just not on a large scale).
We are against the death penalty because we believe a life in prison is more of a punishment - you're going to die anyways, might as well get a few decades of boredom and regret in beforehand. Again, as we do not consider fetuses to be people, we don't think that abortion is comparable to the death penalty.

My opponent then argued against my claim that the Pro-Life communities fixation on abortion implies a motive rather than the life of a fetus, given their neglect of other causes of fetus death. And it's true that most every-day Pro-Lifers simply want to preserve the life of a fetus because they believe it's a human being. It's the institution I don't trust. If you look at most Pro-Life politicians, you'll see that most of them are conservative. Many (but not all) are evangelical. These same people are the ones that opt for the defunding of organizations that support women who can't afford to take care of a child but don't want an abortion, the ones that provide safe birth control to poorer women (which, by the way, is the #1 way to prevent abortions - prevent unplanned pregnancies), and the ones that provide care and shelter and food to children. What's the point of making sure a child is born if you're going to take away its chance at a better life? If the institution isn't really concerned with the conservation of a life - not just survival, but a life - then it must have an ulterior motive - it may be subconscious, hidden even from the person it lives in, but it must be there.

Thank you for your time.

Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov...
http://discovermagazine.com...
stschiffman

Con

"My argument was more about the subconscious - such as self-awareness."
But it's only a couple months away from developing all of those things. You act as if it were an inanimate object, not a developing human.

"That is not at all what I was saying; I had already explained my belief that a fetus is not necessarily a person."
Merely claiming another human is not human does not make killing it okay. And don't say "But the law considers it okay" because human history has taught us over and over again that just because something is legal is it not inherently right.

"For one thing, there ARE people working to cure cancer. Although there is some scientific work done to try to predict miscarriages..."
You refuted your own point in the same line. In the same way there are people trying to cure both cancer and AIDS, there are also people fighting against abortion and miscarriages. Once again, your logic proves faulty. As I stated in the last round, merely pointing out that Cause B exists does not take any relevance away from Cause A, whether Cause A is abortion or cancer. Your point about miscarriages is clearly a logical fallacy called a red herring. A red herring is defined as "a fallacy of distraction, and is committed when a listener attempts to divert an arguer from his argument by introducing another topic." Whether you've realized it or not, you are trying to distract from my points by bringing up an irrelevant topic, but it's not working.

"Although this (pro-choice double standards) is not really what this debate should be about..."
Our debate is not about miscarriages or about your theory that the pro-life have a secret sexist agenda, you brought up both of those points. If you want to keep this debate exclusively about abortion, you should only bring up abortion.

"What's the point of making sure a child is born if you're going to take away its chance at a better life? If the institution isn't really concerned with the conservation of a life - not just survival, but a life - then it must have an ulterior motive - it may be subconscious, hidden even from the person it lives in, but it must be there."
We don't want to take away it's chance at a better life. That's not only a baseless myth. And no, we don't have a hidden agenda either. Those who are out to protect life are merely out there to protect life, not all this "slow the progress of women" stuff you talked about earlier. Do you believe Mohandas Gandhi has a secret agenda? What about Mother Teresa? Pope Francis? Because all three of them are pro-life. By the way, this is another example of a red herring. You're merely accusing me and my cause wildly and expecting a distraction from the debate at hand and be treated as a valid argument. It's not.

Thank you for your time.
Debate Round No. 3
StatsAndFacts

Pro

My opponent argued that although a fetus has not yet developed all the components necessary to be a person, it is just about to and therefore living. However, just because something has the potential to become a person doesn't automatically give it the same rights as a person. If this were the case, every time a woman had her period, we would have to arrest her for murder because her egg didn't develop into a zygote.

My opponent then stated that just calling another human a human doesn't make killing it okay. However, I have given my criteria for being defined as a person, and a fetus does not meet those requirements. Being a human simply requires the joining of a sperm and egg cell. However, being a person requires certain mental capabilities (please don't make the argument about disabled people - I've already explained the differences). As my opponent has not stated their reasoning for why a fetus should be considered a person, I believe my arguments on the matter stand firm. I also wish to point out that I would never make the argument that because something is legal, it is inherently right - clearly that is not true.

My opponent claimed that by stating that no work is being done on early stages of pregnancy (to prevent miscarriages and chemical pregnancies and such) but then stating that scientists are working to predict miscarriages, I was contradicting myself. This is not the case. Scientists are working to PREDICT miscarriages, not PREVENT them. Once again, my opponent missed by point - my logic is not that the Pro-Life community should focus only on miscarriages, my point is that by focusing exclusively on abortions and ignoring other causes of fetal deaths, the Pro-Life community is contradicting itself when it states that 'every life matters'. This is not a red herring - this argument is meant to prove inconsistencies in Pro-Life logic.

My opponent argued that by stating some of the arguments they brought up were irrelevant, I was being hypocritical. I did try to keep all of my arguments relevant but, looking back, I can see the logic behind that and I apologize if that is the case. However, I wish to point out that a) I still responded to the arguments presented (which, by the way, I do not see any rebuttals to) and b) this accusation doesn't have anything to do with the arguments I presented at all.

My opponent then stated that my claim that the institution is more concerned about the preservation of a life than its quality was a 'baseless myth'. They also cited prominent Pro-Life activists and stated my claim that there is a 'hidden agenda' is incorrect. Once again, I will say this: it isn't the people, but the institution I don't trust. As I already gave my arguments for this in the previous round, I don't feel the need to restate them.

Finally, I wish to point out that my opponent actually refuted few of my arguments this round, ignoring a good portion of them. Instead, they chose to fixate on smaller inconsistencies that don't really have any significant bearing on my arguments at all. Many of the arguments presented have little statistical or factual basis. When voting on this debate, I merely ask that you don't let personal opinions influence your choice, but vote for the person you truly think argued their point the best.

Thank you for your time.
stschiffman

Con

"However, just because something has the potential to become a person doesn't automatically give it the same rights as a person. If this were the case, every time a woman had her period, we would have to arrest her for murder because her egg didn't develop into a zygote."
An egg by itself has no potential to be a person. For that to happen, a sperm has to meet with it. Haven't you even taken biology or even a health class?

"Being a human simply requires the joining of a sperm and egg cell. However, being a person requires certain mental capabilities (please don't make the argument about disabled people - I've already explained the differences)."
I would like to add a great Ronald Reagan quote that perfectly refutes your argument about a fetus not being a person; "The real question today is not when life begins, but what is the value of human life?" It doesn't matter if you believe life begins at conception or not, what does matter is if we value human life or not?

"Scientists are working to PREDICT miscarriages, not PREVENT them."
In my sources, I will leave a link to one of my research centers working to both predict and prevent miscarriages. And yes, this actually is a red herring; whether or not miscarriages occur is irrelevant to a debate about abortion, it's meant only as a distraction.

"Once again, I will say this: it isn't the people, but the institution I don't trust."
An institution is inanimate. You cannot mistrust an institution, that's impossible. You can only mistrust the people in said institution.

I would also like to ask that anyone voting on this debate ignore personal bias and try to make an impartial decision.

By the way, I accept your apology for not responding to the last round of our gun control debate.

Sources
http://www.tommys.org...
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by StatsAndFacts 8 months ago
StatsAndFacts
I'm sorry, I made a typo. I said, 'But if this is true, aren't they focusing their energies on something more worthwhile for the protection of this human?' I meant 'But if this is true, aren't they focusing their energies on something LESS worthwhile for the protection of this human?'
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