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Resolved: Abortion ought not be illegal.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/10/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,092 times Debate No: 19783
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




This part of the round is for acceptance only. The next few rounds will be for the actual argumentation of the topic.


I accept the debate, obviously. Since you created it, I'll let you set forth your definitions and such in the next section. I'm looking forward to our discussion.
Debate Round No. 1


ScarletGhost4396 forfeited this round.


The title of the topic states that abortion should not be illegal. However, abortion is not illegal in many forms already over much of the world. I assume what's said is that abortion should be relatively unregulated, and abortions should be made legal later in the gestation period, and for any reasons, not just health or welfare reasons. The idea that abortion should be made legal for any reason beyond the extreme (i.e. saving a mother's life), is what I'll argue against. I think there may be times where abortion should be a legal option, but only in extreme cases.

I think most pro-choice advocates muddy the waters with all kinds of terms and humanitarian notions, which I will get to later. But really, there is one major question that has to be answered, which I believe is the killer of the pro-choice argument. What would you do If a young child came up to you and asked, "can I kill it?" You'd first have to ask what "it" is. If it's a spider, most would give a resounding "yes!" But if it's a little sibling, the answer would presumably be quite different. In cases of abortion, we know that the fetus is alive. That is inarguable. The question then becomes, "what is it?" If the answer is human, it seems like the issue is an open and shut case in my favor. If the answer is non-human, the pro-choice advocate has a significant burden of proof to bear in proving that assertion. It is here that I would now like to focus my argument for why I believe a "fetus" is a human being worthy of life and rights. This SLED argument is a very famous argument used by pro-life advocates, but I think there's a very good reason for that.

Size: Some argue that the fetus is not a human being who holds legitimate rights, like the mother, because it is smaller than humans that we interact with on a regular basis. But how does this make sense? I'm a relatively short adult male, so am I able to be put to death because I'm not really human? Infants and toddlers are smaller than adults, so why can't parents choose to dispose of them?

Level of development: This is a similar argument as size, but focuses more on mental and societal maturation, along with the physical. This runs into the same problems as size. Is one considered less human because their body or mind isn't as advanced another person's?

Environment: Some argue that because a fetus is inside of the mother, it is somehow not considered a human being with rights. Sure, it's connected to the mother and is located inside of her body, but how does this make one any less human? I am no less human sitting here in my house than I am when I am at work (my boss should read this!).

Dependency: The final way pro-choice advocates attempt to escape the inevitable is by saying that fetuses require direct nurture from their mother alone. But how does this disqualify someone as a human? Being dependent on one person alone makes someone non-human, but once they are born they have a society to rely on, which magically changes their essence?

I have yet to hear a pro-choicer explain away the humanity of a fetus, yet that's exactly what they try to do by insisting on using the term "fetus." The first step to condoning atrocities is to dehumanize the victims. But just as 3 month olds are newborns, yet persons, and 13 year olds are teenagers, but persons, so it is with the fetus. It is a person. With that idea firmly established, we can move on to what the notion of abortion truly advocates: the killing of a human person. In the next section, I will point out some common pro-choice arguments that sound emotionally appealing, but are logically vacuous in light of the fact that the fetus is a person.

Women's Rights: Making abortion illegal imposes on the rights of the mother. But "rights" can not be defined as doing whatever you want to do. If that were the case, murder, stealing, and the like would be my right. Abortion, as these other crimes, infringes on the rights of another human's life or property. It's amazing to me how women's rights stop after birth. I'm amazed to see women prosecuted for throwing their babies in trash cans. Why? If pro-choicers do argue against my SLED defense, they're asserting that those attributes make someone less human. If that's the case, a newborn or toddler in the trash can is killed legitimately by someone who is more human, and therefore has more rights.

Women's Health: Many point to the death of thousands of women who performed illegal abortions prior to the 1960's. Abortion should be illegal, as women will want to have abortions anyway. Is that really an argument for making things legal? Allow crime and immorality because people are going to do it anyway? Making abortion largely illegal would curb the crime of murder and infringement of fetus's human rights. Sure, it may cause some to go to jail and some women may die, but we accept these consequences by upholding the other aspects of the law. It seems even more acceptable to plan for these consequences when we're upholding the lives of human beings.

On a side note, most of the statistics on deaths as a result of illegal abortion are taken in the early 1900's. The procedures and medicines at this time were vastly inferior to what we have today. Most illegal abortions in the Western world would most likely be performed by doctors sympathetic to abortion, so this argument doesn't hold too much weight in my mind, although we can't be sure of the results without actually experiencing them in modernity.

Welfare: The last major argument put forth is that many women choose abortion to avoid a life of being unable to provide for their children, whether financially, emotionally, or otherwise. I also include in this argument the abortion of those who have unwanted qualities (my child will have green eyes but I want blue) to major disabilities (down syndrome). This argument, out of all of them, seems the most noxious to me. While I sympathize with the plight of the underprivileged, what does this message send to those living there right now? Anyone with a disability or undesirable trait should look at abortion as dehumanizing. If there is any argument that reeks of eugenics and Nazi Germany - which we all say on the surface is appalling - it is this one. We would be up in arms if a mother killed her five year old kid who had down syndrome or ADHD, yet this matter of preference is acceptable in abortion.

What is even more appalling is the idea that provision for children's welfare is primarily physical and financial. My parents and in-laws all came from very meager beginnings, but had a glorious life in the sense that their parents loved them and nurtured them. This wasn't just an easy thing for the parents, as they had to sacrifice of themselves to work long jobs, and they gave of their time to support their children. Fast forward to the Casey Anthony trial, and I can't tell you how many people were condemning her. I have a friend who would have tortured her himself if he could have, yet he is pro-choice. We condemn those who have priorities of living a party-life or focusing on themselves after birth, yet most don't see the hypocrisy of doing the exact same thing to a smaller, less developed, more dependent, localized human being.

At the end of this section, I have to ask how so much hypocrisy goes unchecked in the pro-choice community? Why is infant, toddler, and even teenage killing not legitimate? By pro-choice standards, they sure seem to be less human. On top of that, many pro-choicers seem to be all for taking away a mothers rights upon birth, or soon after. But a child sucks resources from the mother long after birth. Furthermore, how do pro-choicers claim to uphold human dignity and rights, while they deny the same of those who can't advocate for themselves? And at the same time, how do they uphold the humanity of those who are living with undesirable traits or in less than desirable circumstances, since these are grounds for fetal destruction?
Debate Round No. 2


Judges, I sincerely apologize to you and my opponent for not posting an argument when it was needed. With this being said, I will still provide my own side of the arguments and refute my opponent's case. We must understand that for one thing, my opponent has the entirety of the resolution mistaken. We are talking about abortions in general, and while some countries are supportive for abortion, my opponent must understand that there are others, including Chile and the Dominican Republic that do not allow for any sort of abortions whatsoever. At that point, this case should be examined in the general because at some level, some countries are still not supportive of the idea of any abortion, and at the point where my opponent is saying that at some level, abortion should be legal, the judges should already be thinking about voting for my sideof the debate.
The arguments that I will make are simple enough, and my opponent can refute these whenever possible:

[1] Abortions cannot be illegal because they will cause a rise in the amounts of illegal abortions, increasing the risk for women because they are generally unsafe. Abortion bans will not stop abortions in any way, shape, or form.
[2] It is the right of a woman to have an abortion because this is her body. A woman should have the right to do what she wishes with her body and protect for her own well-being. By banning abortions, we would be stripping this right for women.
[3] The personhood of the fetus is almost nonexistent in the point at where it is, making it less eligible for human rights.

Moving on to my opponent's case, however, we already notice that there is one large, inherent contradiction in his argument. He talks about the dehumanization of the fetus throughout the entirety of his argument and how this is wrong, but at the point where he still supports abortions in extreme cases, where regardless of the situation, we're still doing the same thing to the fetus (killing it), there's a contradiction because he's saying that killing fetuses is wrong, but it is necessary in scenarios X and Y, and totally unacceptable in scenarios A and B. Even when he is arguing for the humanity of the fetus, he still advocates abortion at some level even though the resolution asks for abortions in general. Therefore, the judges should already begin thinking about voting for the PRO.

Now, onto directly into my opponent's general points:

Size: I have never even heard of an argument advocating abortion for this reason, so I'm not sure how to even refute this.
Level of development, dependency, women's rights, and environment: I bundled these considering that these tie in together to the general personhood of the fetus. When it comes to level of development, we must keep this distinct from anomalies in the human brain after being born simply because the situations are different. Anomalies come from problems in the full development--damaged goods so to speak, whereas the fetus is less developed because it is not at its 100%. It has not undergone the full development required in order to become the status of being a person. And of course, even if levels of development are similar, there's the still the matter of individual autonomy, where the fetus is completely and utterly dependent on the mother body to the point where it cannot even live on its own in comparison to an autonomous being as dependent as can be. The fetus is so dependent on the mother that it is almost a part of the mother's body, and at that point, the mother body should have a voice in deciding what beings she wants to have inside her body. (This can also be a response to the woman's right argument)
Women's Health: There are good laws, and there are bad laws. A bad law is a bad law when it does absolutely nothing to actually stop abortions, cannot be enforced in any way, and ends up causing more harm than good. It's not only going to throw the women of society facing these problems with abortions into a hole as far as their health is concerned, but it is going to be a waste of money and time for law enforcement. It's a law that simply cannot be done as far as implementation goes.
Welfare: I'm not really understanding what kind of argument is being made here. If my opponent could explain, that would be great.



ScarletGhost, I am glad you were able to make it. I am very interested in this debate, and am glad we get to sharpen our ideas together. I am sorry for mistaking the resolution, but the title was relatively vague. Since abortion is technically not fully legal anywhere (abortion on demand at any stage), and since most of the community comes from the Western world, I thought this was advancing the liberalizing of abortion. In any case, my position still stands. While I may be persuaded that abortions are legitimate in extreme circumstances, I will explain why I don't think this constitutes the legalization of abortion as my opponent proposes.


1. My opponent seems to think that the avoidance of suffering is a legitimate means to allow abortion. If this involved legalizing the removal of warts, I would agree. But if a fetus is in fact a human person, my opponent may believe we can kill it on these grounds, but the implications of this belief are rather scary, and fail to be lived out by proponents of abortion. If ending one person's suffering by killing another who cannot advocate for themselves is legitimate, I must maintain my disagreement.

2. It seems to me that if the fetus is a person, the fetus's body is his/her own. Now, I realize this is a weird hypothetical, but I wonder what would happen if a conjoined twin killed their other half. Would we consider that immoral? It seems to me that my opponent is simply making a fallacy here by somehow implying the fetus is less human when joined to the mother. Would my opponent say this for a 9 month old fetus? An 8 month old? 7 months? Would he say a fetus/baby still attached to the mother by the umbilical cord is able to be killed? It seems like arbitrary lines are drawn here, all under the guise of "rights." But we don't allow the murdering of children who eat parents out of house and home, whine, and ruin love lives. Why do a mothers rights supersede another human being's rights at this stage?

My opponent also states that this is the mothers right to protect her own well being. While one of the circumstances I may concede the legitimacy of abortion is in protection of the mother's life, my opponent's definition of "well being" here is very shallow. It's really equivalent to comfort, lack of strife, stability, and self-image. While I don't think these are bad things or unimportant things in general, how could you use these as excuses for ending the life of a human?

3. The assertion here is that the fetus's person-hood is "almost nonexistent in the point at where it is." This is a rather bold claim. I would like to know how my opponent defines a person, as this would be conducive to our getting to the bottom of the whole issue, which I pointed out as relying on the answer to the foundational question of person-hood. My opponent obviously disagrees with my definition of person-hood, so I'll defend his rebuttals next.


1. My opponent argues that the LED of my SLED argument didn't stand because a fetus's cognitive abilities are different than the mentally handicapped who have fully developed. First, the only difference between a fetus and a mentally handicapped individual is SLED. Is my opponent arguing that because the fetus is less developed physically and mentally, then it is less of a person? But a mentally handicapped person is a valuable person because they have more atoms added to them (physical) and maybe more cognitive function (mental), depending on the age of the fetus we're talking about? I fail to see how my opponent can objectively and certainly deduce person-hood on such vague grounds, and I fail to see how he can maintain any assertions by others that the mentally handicapped should be euthanized, as they aren't people due to their mental, and sometimes physical shortcomings.

2. So in refuting the SLED argument, my opponent basically said that development is what changes the essence of a person, which seems circular to me, as he answered my question of development by saying a fetus isn't as developed. But my opponent also answers my location question/argument by saying that the fetus is attached to the mother. Of course it is, but I fail to see how dependency and location cause grounds for revoking a human's right to life. So far, all my opponent has said is that the fetus is a human, it' just not as important because of it's lack of mental/physical development, and it's dependency on others. This is a fatal flaw for most pro-choice advocates, as they detest the notion of allowing children to be murdered or mentally ill to be disposed of. That doesn't make the idea necessarily wrong, but my opponent would need to show how he can hold to this view consistently, as a whole, rather than just give lip-service to a portion of ethics he appreciates for whatever reason.

3. My opponent also states that anti-abortion laws would cause harm. This is a utilitarian argument, and does an end-around my major argument. If it's a human, how do you justify allowing murder on the grounds of comfort and security? And the belief that since we can't stop people from committing the crime, we shouldn't allow it, is utterly preposterous to me, and goes against any law we have in place at the moment. Laws aren't needed until they're broken. It's only then that they are put into effect. Sure, we won't stop all abortions, just like they won't stop all terrorists who bomb abortion clinics or slander abortion doctors. But if you believe laws should exist to punish those who will inevitably commit crimes against the rights of mothers, because you believe it's a fact that mothers have that right, why wouldn't the same hold true for protecting person-hood, if in fact fetus's are people?

4. Finally, my opponent says that I'm a hypocrite for agreeing that abortion is justified in a sense. But my opponent must then think people who value life, but agree in killing to defend their wife from rape or child from murder, are also hypocrites. The taking of a life is not a whimsical thing. It's something that is utterly valuable, and is only legitimate in a situation that is more morally weighty. If a woman's death was certain by carrying a fetus to a viable birthing age, there is a legitimate moral decision here. But removing the fetus at this point is not murder because the child dies, it's choosing between two equally valuable lives. In the Western world, this is a rare occurrence, but I do think it is legitimate, just as defending your family, donating organs which may reduce your life, etc.


My opponent has still not addressed how person-hood is missing from a fetus. I have seen no justification for killing a person that is equal to any other justification we'd deem legitimate for any other class of human persons. I have seen utilitarian arguments that assert a standard of what should be done, but this is one viewpoint of many, none of which are objectively correct or can compel one to action. My opponent's assertions are inconsistent with his own beliefs (uphold laws for women's rights, even though we can't always stop crime, but don't do it for human persons of the fetus class).

I look forward to hearing my opponent's responses.

[1] Basic SLED argument:
[2] Great paper highlighting internal inconsistencies in not viewing a fetus as a person:
Debate Round No. 3


ScarletGhost4396 forfeited this round.


It is unfortunate that my opponent did not respond in two rounds of this debate, as I was genuinely hoping to have my views challenged. However, after his limited arguments, I am only more affirmed in my beliefs. Since I have made my arguments in detail above, let me summarize with a few key points.

1. The crux of the argument is formed around the person-hood of the fetus. Any reason given for why a fetus is not a person, is a argument, that if logically followed out to its conclusions, would take away the status of "human" from portions of the human race currently valued today (infants, toddlers, mentally handicapped, physically deformed, etc).

2. While I was hoping my opponent's rebuttals would lead us into a discussion of utilitarianism, it only did so briefly. But basically, if my opponent would have argued for the person-hood of the fetus, yet denied their right to life based on utilitarian grounds (fetus's aren't as important due to their function, their contribution to society, etc), we would have entered another realm of the debate. Essentially, my opponent would run into the same dehumanizing problems found in point one.

Furthermore, while utilitarianism is objective in the sense that you can measure what works, the notion of utilitarianism is ungrounded and subjective. So one person can deem utility as survival, another pleasure, and another technological advancement and evolution. Since any materialistic system my opponent puts forward is subjective, there is no truth or obligatory value to it. It's a mere observation as to what the majority (or those in power) hold and follow. So while my opponent can say fetus's aren't worth endowing rights upon according to his utilitarianism, so what? He has no basis for any prescription. He can only observe and describe.

3. Since my opponent is unable to rescind the person-hood of a fetus, and since he can't himself give any prescriptive grounds as to why we should take away rights from the human class of fetus, or why we should uphold the rights of women, he utterly fails in his position. I, however, have been making observations based on objective claims and have been calling for consistency in viewpoints While my opponent believes humanity confers upon one rights, and defends those rights vehemently when it comes to women, he hypocritically demolishes the rights of other human beings.

In the end, you may disagree with my position. However, my opponent has only used circular reasoning in his attempted rebuttals. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed our debate. However, I would love to chat with anyone else who thinks they can poke holes in my assertions. I appreciate my opponent giving of his time, and wish him the best.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by bjrscj 6 years ago
I didn't realize you lived so close to me, ScarletGhost. I'm actually living in Grayson at the moment. I subbed at Snellville Middle once, before I got a full time job. Small world.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by InVinoVeritas 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: forfeit