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The Contender
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Resolved: public health concerns justify compulsory vaccinations

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/16/2009 Category: Health
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,773 times Debate No: 10147
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




I would like to debate this debate in LD format. I thank my opponent in advance for accepting the round, and good luck :)


I would like to thank Pro as the instigator for starting this debate and wish her luck.
As we are debating LD style I will allow Pro to go first.
Debate Round No. 1


"The only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant." Because I agree with John Stuart Mill, I stand in firm affirmation that Resolved: Public health concerns justify compulsory immunization.

To clarify the round, the affirmative provides the following definitions from the resolution:
Public Health: an effort organized by society to protect, promote, and restore the people's health (John Hopkins University)
Justify: to prove superior to all other alternatives
Compulsory: mandatory under current law (Random House Dictionary, 2009)
Immunizations: to perform vaccinations or produce immunity in by inoculation (Princeton WordNet)

My core value for this debate will be the protection of life.
To uphold this a value criterion of the social contract will be used. The social contract says that individuals must surrender certain rights in return for the government providing protection.

Observation One: If the affirmative can prove that using compulsory immunization is justified in even one case, the affirmative must win this round.

Contention One: Compulsory immunizations are proven to be justified under the social contract
If one wishes to live in a society, they must be willing to give up certain rights in order to gain not only individual protection from harm, but also community protection. The social contract is implemented in every society and states that citizens are required to give up some individual rights for their own protection. When the citizens feel like there is a health concern, they have to be willing to get immunized. When one doesn't obey the laws of the social contract, they are no longer going to receive the benefits. It's the government's job to make sure that the masses are taken care of, which ultimately upholds life. If one person's choice no to get immunized harms another person's right to be protected from disease, then vaccinations ought to be compulsory to prevent that harm.

Contention Two: Compulsory vaccinations are more beneficial
Subpoint A) These vaccinations are more effective at saving lives
The 1967 smallpox breakout, which killed 2 million people, was almost entirely eradicated by the 1980's compulsory vaccination lead by the World Health Organization. If an entire disease can be almost completely wiped out by vaccinations, it's something that needs to be looked into. Salmon and Haber, of the American Medical Association, state, "United States measles surveillance data indicate that exemptors were at a statistically significant increased risk of contracting measles versus vaccinated individuals for each group and in every year. On average, from 1985 through 1992, …exemptors were 35 times more likely to contract measles than were vaccinated persons." Since these vaccinations are so extremely powerful in eradicating diseases, there's no reason as to why they shouldn't be mandatory. Without the vaccines, huge quantities of people would die, and the disease could never be treated or almost eradicated. The World Health Organization states that, "Immunization is a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases and is estimated to avert over 3 million deaths each year."
Subpoint B) Vaccinations are cost-effective
The cost effectiveness of vaccinations allow them to be administered on a large scale without running out of money. Commonly-used vaccines are a cost-effective and preventive way of promoting health, compared to the treatment of acute or chronic disease. In the U.S. during the year 2001, according to Santoli and Zhou, routine childhood immunizations against seven diseases were estimated to save over $40 billion per year. Since preventative care is much cheaper than care for treatment, compulsory vaccinations would benefit the societies. With the purchase of each vaccine, average costs go down. The companies lower their prices because they know that their vaccines will be sold in mass quantities, and for that, they must be available at cheaper prices. Overall, these vaccines are cost effective, which can allow countries to afford them, thus saving more lives.
Subpoint C) The use of compulsory vaccinations
Compulsory laws are out into place because the population has been proven to comply more. There has bee a higher rate of compliance for compulsory vaccinations, because people find it mandatory. With the current laws around the world, vaccinations are required, and exemptions are not publicized. For example, if you tell the people that they need to wear their seatbelts, except when sick, people that get caught will say they are sick. By not advertising that it is just to get exemptions under current law, exemptors for medical and religious restrictions can still be justifiably exempted.

Contention Three: The role of the government is to protect all citizens
Governments are responsible for their citizen's safety, which includes public health. The organization the power and means to enforce compulsory immunization is the government. In the Supreme Court case of Jacobson v. Massachusettes, "The US Supreme Court handed down a 7-2 decision… that upheld the right of states to enact compulsory vaccination laws. In asserting that there are ‘manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good.'" (Colgrove and Bayer, The Legacy of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 2005.) It's already just for states to put compulsory immunization programs into place, in order to preserve their citizens' lives. Isaacs and Kilham, in "Ethical Issues in Immunization", state, "Many jurisdictions currently compel parents to protect their children from risk of accident by using seat belts for travel in cars…" Many other compulsory laws are pout into place to protect citizens, which is ultimately, the crucial role of the government. Compulsory immunization laws are currently in place. The school systems require students to get immunized with various vaccines to protect the other children, as well as the child. The systems call these immunizations compulsory, yet there can be medical and religious exemptions. Therefore, compulsory can be omitted in certain, state approved cases. In the Jacobson v Massachusetts case, for example, states can omit compulsory vaccinations when the vaccination will cause harm. Therefore, I can see nothing but an affirmative ballot


My value is autonomy, which is self-directing freedom and self-governance. In society there are certain limits to this but there is a point to which it becomes morally wrong to violate a person's rights. One of those points is the right a person has over their own body. Two major ethicists for bio medics, Beauchamp and Childress clearly state respect for autonomy must be followed in the medical field. When you violate that right it opens the door for many immoral things to happen.

My criterion is through Kant's categorical imperative. Kant's second formulation says to never treat a moral agent as a means-to-an-end but always as ends-in-themselves. When we require immunizations it violates a member of societies' right to govern their own body. It is simply using them as a means-to-an-end, violating the categorical imperative and is thus immoral.

Contention 1) When members of society are not immunized it can only affect others who are not immunized. According to the Center for Disease Control vaccinations have a very high rate of immunity. For mumps it is 99.57% and for measles it is 99.95%. So when someone in society does not get immunized it will not affect those who are immunized. It only has the chance to affect those who do not get immunized. Therefore, this also makes it moral to refuse immunizations through John Mill's harm principle. Through John Mill's harm principle he makes the exception for children and for consenting adults. So even if those who do not get immunizations harm each other, because they have chosen to not get the immunization, it is moral.

Contention 2) Immunizations cause many harmful effects. "They [vaccinations] caused more suffering and more deaths than has any other human activity in the entire history of medical intervention." That is a quote from Dr. Viera Schneiber, with a PhD. Another quote from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons says, "Measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, and the whole panoply of childhood diseases are a far less serious threat than having a large fraction (say 10%) of a generation afflicted with learning disability and/or uncontrollable aggressive behavior because of an impassioned crusade for universal vaccination." Both of these quotes are saying that vaccinations have negative impacts on those who receive them. They can cause learning disabilities, mental disease and many other problems. Immunizations are a relatively new invention and while they cure disease they also cause a lot of harm. Because of all the harms immunizations cause it is immoral to mandate that a member of society put it in their body.


I agree with all of my opponents definitions except justify. Justify is defined in Random House Unabridged Dictionary as "to show (an act, claim, statement, etc.) to be just or right." Because my Pro offered no source for her definition we must look to mine.

My opponent values protection of life. It is the government's duty to protect its citizens from an outside harm. However, when a member of society chooses to not get an immunization that only affects others who choose not to get immunized. Basically you can apply my first contention here. But the point here is that while protecting life is good it is not the governments duty to protect its citizens from themselves.

Pros criterion is social contract. Social contract says we must give up some rights for the governments protection. As my opponent states in her intro the way we must determine what rights can justifiably taken away is through John Mill's harm principle. Which essentially says the only rights that can be taken away are rights that would cause harm to others. However, John Mill makes exceptions to this and one of those is consenting adults. For example when two boxers go into a ring they cause harm to each other but this is okay because they have agreed to this. It is the same with immunizations. Immunizations has been defined as to "produce immunity" so by getting an immunization one becomes immune. Therefore when a member of society chooses not to get immunized they have consented to accepting the risk of getting a disease.

My opponents observation is clearly abusive. The resolution in no way states that the affirmative only has to give one given case where compulsory immunizations are justifiable. It simply says "public health concerns justify compulsory immunizations."

Contention 1) My opponent says here that the social contract justifies compulsory immunizations. As I already stated when refuting the criterion of social contract the only rights that can be taken away are rights that cause harm to others. For example I do not have the right to shoot someone when I get angry. But, once again, John Mill makes the exception for consenting adults. So because a member of society chooses to take the risk of catching a disease by not being immunized it is moral to do so.

Contention 2)
Sub A: "These vaccinations are more effective at saving lives." Pro says here that smallpox was eradicated with compulsory immunizations but I would like to point out that polio was also eradicated without compulsory immunizations. The people themselves decided to go get immunized which eradicated the disease without the government violating any rights. She also says that those who didn't get immunized were much more likely to get smallpox. Once again it is their choice not to get immunized though so they accept the risk and the government does not have the right to violate their personal liberty to basically protect people from themselves.
Sub B: "Vaccinations are cost-effective". Essentially Pro is saying here that vaccinations save money. But no amount of money justifies a government violating a citizens rights. The definition of justify is to do what is right or just and it is not right to violate every member of societies rights for money.
Sub C: Here Pro says that more people get immunized when the laws require immunizations. But I think this is obvious, when something is mandatory of course more people will get it. She then states that on the Pro you can give exemptions to anyone who does not want to be immunized when she says "exemptions for medical and religious restrictions can still be justifiably exempted. This clearly is not compulsory immunizations because anyone can just say their religion does not allow for them to get immunized and they don't have to. As my opponent defined compulsory it is "mandatory under current law" so allowing for all of these exemptions means the immunizations are clearly not mandatory.

Contention 3) Again going back to my opponents intro where she talks about the harm principle the only rights that can be taken away are those that harm others. (Please simply apply the same analysis as I've already stated in my refuations and my first contention on the exception because I am running out of room.) So yes government is supposed to protect its citizens, as John Locke says, government must protect its citizens' individual rights these are clearly not protected and are completely trampled on by compulsory immunizations. Pro also says that the U.S. supreme court upheld compulsory immunizations however this is irrelelvant becuase the resolution is not U.S. specific and this is just one court at one point in time. In any other society the ruling could have been the exact opposite. Finally Pro says that there are other compulsory laws making this one ok and sites an example where an exception was made where an immunizations would cause harm. Just because compulsory laws exist doesn't make them just and most of those laws are to prevent unwilling harm. In reference to the court case of course if the immunizations causes harm then it should not be force upon someone. But an immunizations is not compulsory if religous exceptions are allowed because it is no longer mandatory and anyone can get out of it.
Debate Round No. 2


kellbell137 forfeited this round.


Extend my arguments. And wow this is really getting old when people keep starting debates and then just stealing cases and arguments.
Debate Round No. 3


kellbell137 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


kellbell137 forfeited this round.


Please vote con.
Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by studentathletechristian8 7 years ago
theLwerd, the Mod came and referred to that as debate squandering. You may face serious consequences ;)
Posted by oceanix 7 years ago
Given that this one doesn't expire until January..
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Agree with wjm. Phuck failed nations, and phuck immunizations. I think I'm going to accept every single one of them and just not post a first round argument. That way the challenge will expire, AND, hopefully the people debating these topics at tournaments in real life will have missed their opportunity to use us for arguments/practice so they won't bother to re-submit the challenge :D
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
You didn't shoot me with the topic though. *tear*
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
This and the failed nations topic need to go to hell.
Posted by wonderwoman 7 years ago
/shoots LWERD in the face
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FF.