The Instigator
roman.legion
Pro (for)
Losing
18 Points
The Contender
iamapelican
Con (against)
Winning
21 Points

Scientifically speaking, abortion should not be legal.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/27/2007 Category: Science
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,062 times Debate No: 1053
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (3)
Votes (13)

 

roman.legion

Pro

Much of the debate surrounding abortion is whether or not a fetus is a person. If they are a person, I think most agree that they should have some fundamental rights.

So what does science have to say about all this? Well, genetically speaking, a fetus is genetically indistinguishable from a baby, a child, or an adult. If you define personhood genetically, a fetus is as much a person as you or I, and entitled to the same fundamental rights.

Now, this definition of personhood may not be the correct one, and I admit that. Many competing philosophies define personhood differently. However, I think this definition is superior to others because it involves as little philosophy and as much science as possible, which seems to be what we want these days.

Even if you disagree with this definition of personhood, you have to wonder about it. And once you wonder about it, you've lost. If you went hunting, and you had cause to think that there MAY be a person hiding in a bush, you would be morally and legally responsible if you fired into that bush and killed a person.
iamapelican

Con

I was reluctant to take this debate, because the only other one I've had on this site is also on abortion! I don't want people to think it's my only area of interest, but you made some points I'd like to contend.

Expectedly, my first contention is in your definition of life, or personhood, and when laws should be applied to a person. I do not believe whatsoever that genetics is the grounds for determining when life begins. If that was the case, a single human cell, or any bacteria spliced with human DNA would be identified as human life. I am of the opinion that when a growing fetus becomes eligible for the application of protection by law is when that fetus becomes neurologically developed.

This is from my last debate, but it essentially gets across everything I want to say, and I don't see the point in rewording it.

---

In what ways does a human being differ from other animals? Why is it, by most, considered exceptionally more unethical to kill a living human being as opposed to a living, say, cow? I would assume this bias exists on two levels. Firstly, a human being is of our own species. Every species that wants to rationally continue existing has a genetic predisposition towards saving their own kind, so as not to risk extinction and to properly propagate the genes of their species. While most, even all, humans may have an inherent feeling of this bias, I don't think it fully accounts for the human race's love of itself. I think the matter mostly has to do with distinct sentience. Very little other creatures have traces of the level of sentience that humans do, and those who come close are the epitome of the phrase "so close, yet so far." Raise a cow up to the level of intelligence and development of humans. Disregarding matters of hostility that may arise, if cows had intelligence and civilizations of the stature of humans, along with language and means of communication with each other and ourselves, I'd be willing to bet murdering that creature would merit a punishment analogous to the charge of murder of a human. Of course, no such creature exists, but you can see my point that our compassion is with those of sentience, and hardly anything otherwise, save for small clusters of animal rights activists who are dwarfed by the rest of the apathetic human race.

So, compassion and legalities are deduced to apply to the sentient. They do not apply to creatures such as cows, which are not as intelligent or developed as humans. So, then, should the rights of the fetus not lie within its stage of development, making it a more punishable offense the later stage in its life you abort it?

Here is where you may object, to say that the fetus, as a life that will develop into a human, has potential for sentience and humanity, and the application of laws to it. This is all so, but any actions taken against the fetus prior to that point, by any standards, do not make those actions immoral or unethical. I find embryology studies compelling, as they show that development of embryos in all species are relatively the same, and all have traces of past evolution in them.

http://upload.wikimedia.org......

There is an interesting diagram for you - the relative developments of animal fetuses. Note the exceptional prenatal similarities. It begs the question: where does the difference lay? And we have answered that question: in sentience, and in development. So it does become more unethical to abort the further on in the stage the child is, which is why procedures such as partial birth and late term abortions have been banned. What about prior to those, though? I see no ethical dilemma in abortion, as the development of the fetus is insufficient, and the function of the body systems is greatly impaired. The cerebrum, the part of the brain that makes the most difference in distinction from animals, and in life functioning, is the last part of a fetus to develop.

---

Specifically, I'd like to note that I believe the moment the fetus becomes a life is when the fetus' brain starts emitting EEGs - or brain waves - which usually occurs between the 24th and 27th weeks of pregnancy, that is, towards the end of the second trimester.

As for your final paragraph, I don't think I'm lost. I'm pretty assured that my line of thinking is the right one, but that's the reason we have these debates! So you, or whoever else, has the opportunity at changing that. As I stand, I don't believe there are any legal or ethical dilemmas in abortions in the first and second trimesters, and I'm content with simply shooting a bush.
Debate Round No. 1
roman.legion

Pro

I apologize for taking as long as I have to respond, but I haven't been feeling well lately.

First, I tip my hat to you. Your post is worthy of refutation. It is nice to see that the opposition can come up with good arguements as well. It might seem funny for me to say that, but due to the politically homogenous nature of my environment, I wasn't sure.

I). Now, for you arguements. Your first one is a good counter, and if you would allow it, I'd like to develop my arguement a little further.
A). I would point out that it is scientifically indisputable that a fetus is living, and is human. What is in question is whether or not that makes it a person.
B. Before I read your topic, I would have said absolutely, yes, a living human is a person. You quite reasonably point out that this might qualify single skin cells as people. I would counter that seperated skin cells are not living (which I believe is accurate, though I might be mistaken). A similar objection would be cancer cells. I don't believe they would qualify as human, but not having a degree in biology, I can't be sure.

II). You pose sentience as an alternative definition for personhood. Even if you find genetics a flawed arguement, I believe you will find sentience to have considerably more in the way of problems.
A). You talk about about animal rights activists with some disdain, but you would be giving them logical legitimacy. A dolphin has about the same level of intelligence as a child, which would mean we would either have to reduce the rights of children to the level of animals or raise the rights of animals. I think this is a far larger hole in the sentience arguement than any whole in the genetics arguement. There are no advocates for skin cell rights.
B). The same goes for the mentally impaired or comatose. The government can ban a breed of dog and put down animals against the will of the owners in some cases. Should they be able to do the same thing with a father in a coma. Again, it is not unprecedented that governments remove "burdens" on society by euthanasia.
iamapelican

Con

In response to...

IA) Oh, I agree. I think personhood is what we need to define, as that is when the application of laws becomes necessary. Sorry if my previous post made that ambiguous.

IB) Individual cells and bacteria are all living. Even if a cell is not separated from a person, we do not have laws to protect every individual cell composing a body. While they may not classify as human, they share the same genetic code, so you can see why applying laws based on genetics is flawed.

IIA) Dolphins and bonobos are among a few animal species I do believe should be protected by stricter laws, as they have exhibited a higher level of intelligence than other animals. However, there are easy distinctions between the intelligence of a dolphin and of a child. Regardless of whether or not the child is not more intelligent because he/she isn't developed enough to be, or simply just hasn't been exposed to or taught enough, the fact remains that: humans have a much higher capability for knowledge than dolphins. A dolphin will never reach a higher level of intelligence than a child, but a child is constantly taking in more information and becoming more neurologically developed at that rate. However, I do think strict laws should be enforced for the murder of either.

IIB) I support euthanasia, but it's a broad term. Generally, I believe if a person is in a vegetative state, it is perfectly acceptable and often humane to pull the plug on them. They are mentally vapid and only waiting for their body to die - that is no condition to live in. I'd like to point that I don't believe it is a condition to live in because of the mental capacity of the person. So if you believe, as I do, that it was perfectly acceptable to end Terri Schiavo's life, then we're generally on the same level for determine when it is acceptable to end a life.

IIB) I don't have any qualms with euthanasia, nor do I see how it presents any dilemma with my views on abortion. When a
Debate Round No. 2
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by rockstarman11 9 years ago
rockstarman11
God makes a NEW born baby New Creature before it comes out it has no soul
Posted by iamapelican 9 years ago
iamapelican
Disregard that little IIB part at the end, that was an accident.
Posted by iamapelican 9 years ago
iamapelican
Damn, that link doesn't work.

http://upload.wikimedia.org...

That one should.
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Vote Placed by Im_always_right 9 years ago
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