The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Should abortion be allowed

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/13/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 785 times Debate No: 63186
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (2)




I argue that abortion should be allowed. My opponent argues against this. You may use the first round to make your argument.


I accept. As you are the instigator I will wait for you to post your arguments first.

Additionally, I specify that I mean abortion should not be allowed in general, i.e. that there are some few circumstances in which abortion would be morally permissible, but most of the time not.
Debate Round No. 1


The tricky part of the abortion debate is deciding where to draw the line. Should abortion be allowed if the woman was raped? What about if the baby is guaranteed to grow up in poverty?? What if the woman's life is on the line, should she risk killing both herself to avoid the unthinkable moral crime of abortion? Where should exceptions be made?

For the sake of simplicity, let's imagine that none of these questions apply. Even if this was the case, a pro choice argument can still be made.

1. The birth control argument:
Abortion is essentially preventing a human life. If this is considered morally and ethically wrong, then logically; condoms, birth control, and oral sex should also be outlawed. Condoms prevent what could potentially be a life. any form of birth control would.

The problem here is essentially, where does life begin? This brings me to my next point.

2. Can you murder what is not yet alive?
Fetus's develop the capacity to become conscious sometime between 24-28 weeks (1). This is the point where the part of the fetus's brain responsible for consciousness starts to develop. Consciousness develops sometime after this point. Before this, the fetus cannot feel pain, it does not know it's alive, it is essentially a growth.

So essentially, aborting the baby before this point, (during the first trimester) is as morally wrong as preventing a life, or using birth control. So what about after this point?

3. Human rights
In North America, if a person falls into a vegetative state , they forfeit their decision making rights to their next of kin. If this person is hooked up to a life support system, their next of kin can legally decide to "pull the plug". Similarly, the fetus is dependent on it's mothers "life support system", and has not obtained the mental capacity to make its own choices. So shouldn't the mother be allowed to "pull the plug" ?

4. Population control
This may seem cruel, but it is a valid point. The human race is grossly overpopulated. Science estimates that the earth is only fit to handle about 12-13 billion people. The human population has doubled in the last hundred years. This is what you call exponential growth. What happens when the population of any species exceeds its capacity? Well they die out. DRAMATICALLY. As the amount of people increase, so does world hunger and poverty. Abortion (and other types of birth control) provides a healthy means of controlling this. (2)(3)

The Pro-choice argument:
If it is assumed that a fetus is part of the mother, (not a separate person) then shouldn't the mother have the right to decide what to do with her body? And if a fetus is considered to be a separate person, then where do you draw the line?

So I ask my opponent, where do you draw the line? Should a mother who was raped be allowed to abort her child? What about if her life is at risk? What if she can't support the child? What if the fetus hasn't gained the capacity for consciousness?

I look forward to your response, and what I hope will be a lively debate.



Firstly, I would like to establish what standard of morality I will be using in this debate. My framework of morality will be Utilitarianism, as defined by John Stuart Mill:

"The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible, is that people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is audible, is that people hear it: and so the other sources of our experiment. In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people do actually desire it. If the end which the utilitarian doctrine proposes to itself were not, in theory and in practice, acknowledged to be an end, nothing could ever convince any person that it was so. No reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable, except that each person, so far as he believes it to be attainable, desires his own happiness. This, however, being a fact, we have not only all the proof which the case admits of, but all which it is possible to require that happiness is a good: that each person"s happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons."

Thusly is defined my standard for morality.

With that being said, I shall now outline the exceptions that I mentioned previously. The only incidences in which the action of abortion prevents more harm than it causes is when the child has a genetic disorder that would be debilitating or incapacitating and prevent it from living a normal life. However these disorders are incredibly rare and do not apply to the general rule I am arguing for in place of an absolute one.

Now onto my opponent's contentions.

Most of my opponent's points are defeated in light of the fact that a woman who has already lived part of her life has much less to lose than a fetus that has lived none or very little of it. This already tips the scales of Utilitarianism in favor of preserving the life of the fetus. Additionally, most points only consider the possibility of worsening a woman's life, which has far less weight in terms of suffering than of destroying an entire life with certainty. Bearing this rather heavy imbalance in mind, let us examine the applicable arguments.

This defeats the "What if the woman was raped", "What if the baby will grow up in poverty", and "What if the woman's life is on the line" arguments, as in each case an entire life is worth more than part of one, in addition to the other imbalances mentioned above.

The birth control argument fails most importantly for failing to recognize the difference between "failing to create potential", and "destroying already existing potential". A sperm and egg cell by themselves do not have the potential to create a child. It is only when a sperm cell fertilizes an egg cell that potential has been created and thus removing it is destroying potential. Birth control merely prevents the creation of this potential, which is a separate matter entirely.

This also similarly applies to the second contention, as my opponent again fails to make this important distinction.

The right to decide the fate of a vegetative loved one is fairly contested. For this point to be relevant my opponent would need to demonstrate that this right is grounded in morality.

My opponent seems to have a misunderstanding of ecology. When a species reaches the maximum size it can sustain, it does not simply "die out". Instead, it reaches what is called "carrying capacity" and stabilizes. (1)

In summation, my opponent's contentions fail to address the moral standards for the issue, and equivocate terms as well as misuse scientific and political ideas.

For further reading, I suggest Don Marquis' "Why Abortion is Wrong". (2)

Debate Round No. 2


It seems my opponent has used the previous round to attack my arguments, rather than building their own. The only argument they have given us so far is that a full life is worth more than a childs life. This is a valid point. However one must take into consideration the quality of that life. Is a child that grows up to be a miserable drug addict worth more than someone who has a happy life, even if it is already half over? One cannot simplify the value of a life to how long that life was lived. You must take into account factors like quality of life, and overall human happiness.

My opponent states that the only reason abortion should be allowed is in the case of severely disabled children. This implies that woman who are raped should be forced into having their child, and reliving the trauma that caused the child to exist every day. This also implies that mothers who will die if they are to have their child should be forced to have it. Those woman would be forced to die. It implies that crack addicted woman living on the streets should be forced to give birth to crack addicted babies. Why? Simply because the child would live a longer life than the mother. I disagree with this type of thinking completely. Morality cannot be boiled down to, whoever can live longer is more valuable. That stringent moral frame is dangerous to operate in.

On to defending my previous arguments:

Previously I had stated that using condoms was a way of preventing life, and can be compared to birth control or abortion. My opponent stated "The birth control argument fails most importantly for failing to recognize the difference between "failing to create potential", and "destroying already existing potential"" This is a flawed argument. Any fertile man and woman have the potential to create a child. Abortion, birth control and condoms are all designed for the same purpose - to prevent birth. Abortion is a means of enjoying the fun of sex without the consequences of a child. Condom's are designed for the exact same purpose, so is any type of birth control.

When I pointed out that someone who cannot make decisions for themselves, (like a child or someone in a vegetative state) the right to make their decisions is then given to their next of kin. My opponent states that the laws regarding the fate of someone in a vegetative state are widely contested. This is true. However, the laws were made that way because the majority of people believe it was the correct thing to do. However this misses the point of my original argument entirely. My original point was alluding to the fact that a mother should have the right to choose what she does with her own body, at least until the fetus has developed the capacity to feel pain or know it exists.

About the population control argument: My opponent has pointed out that when a population reaches the maximum size it can sustain it does not simply die out, it reaches it's "carrying capacity". This is correct, I should have worded this better. I was not implying that everyone would die. When any population reaches carrying capacity, it does so by first exceeding it's capacity, until natural forces such as disease, hunger, poverty, and general bad quality of life kill of the excess. In this case the excess being humans. Obviously this is something to be avoided. Tell me con, according to your moral framework what is better, 7 billion people living average lives, or 15 billion people suffering due to overpopulation?

The only point my opponent failed to address was my second one "can you murder what is not yet alive". I pointed out that a fetus doesn't know it exists at this point, it cannot feel pain, and it has no consciousness. At this point the fetus is essentially a growth. The inevitable argument against this point is that preventing human life is bad. This will always lead to the conclusion that birth control, oral sex, and any other type of method used to have sex and prevent life are equally as wrong


My opponent in this round has made a number of generalizations in order to facilitate false constructs. I will address these in a moment, but first I will support my claim about the balance of utility between a mother and her child.

My opponent's only argument against this is that the quality of life for the child will be worse. My opponent has no sources supporting this, so that alone is enough to demolish it. The concept that the child will undoubtedly "grow up to be a miserable drug addict" has no weight behind it, and it is a generalization about the lives of people who were conceived by accident. Although good statistics are difficult to find, it is safe to say that as nearly 40 percent of births are unintended (3), living conditions for those born by accident are not by necessity lower than those of their parents.

While rape and the possibility of death are certainly things we would rather avoid, it is selfish to value the possibility of worsening part of one's life over the certainty of completely losing all of it. Here's the math to prove it.

C x Q x D = V

Where C is the chance, Q is the quality decrease, and D is the duration. If we assume unplanned pregnancy to have a 90% of reducing the quality of life for the mother by 90%, then plug in the fifty-five remaining years of their life (assuming an age of 20), this is the result.

0.9 x 0.9 x 55 = 44.55

It should be noted that although good statistics are hard to find, the numbers I have used here are very generous to the Pro side. Most women are older than 20 when they are pregnant, and a 90% decrease in the quality of life is simply absurd. However, even using this ridiculously inflated value, it still fails to match the loss suffered by the aborted fetus.

1.0 x 1.0 x 75 = 75

This is the math of utilitarianism, and this is why the life of the fetus has a higher value than that of the mother almost every time.

My opponent has stated that "Any fertile man and woman have the potential to create a child". I would like my opponent to support the contention that a fertile man in Canada and a fertile woman in New Zealand can create a child. This may seem absurd, but it's important to remember that when you remove things from isolation you fundamentally change their properties. So if my opponent says that they should simply travel to each other, then that would not work because either the man would not be in Canada or the woman not in New Zealand. Either way, you're changing the problem definition. This is the same principle on which I discuss the isolate of the sperm cell from the egg cell. By themselves, there is no potential for a child.

Although it may seem that a mother should have the right to choose for those who cannot, this is what is called virtual representation and is recognized as illegitimate in most systems. Likewise, I do not think that anyone should have the right to be the judge, jury, and executioner for another person by themselves.

My opponent does not seem to understand that even when carrying capacity is reached the majority of the population is unaffected. If we assume species X has a carrying capacity of 5 million, then what happens when that number is exceeded? 5 million are supported, the rest are not or are minimally. The 5 million will be supported either way, regardless of whether some are not being supported. In fact, the only difference between allowing nature to take its course and artificial population control is that population control requires money and resources that could be spent feeding the poor.

Lastly, I would like to say that the fetus still is alive and can be killed. It may not be conscious yet, but plants are not conscious but are clearly recognized as alive. Now, I do not argue that killing plants is immoral because a plant cannot have a future like ours while a fetus can. These points are addressed by Marquis in his paper I linked.

Debate Round No. 3


Before I begin my final argument I would like to tally the Pro's vs Con's of this debate that have been made so far.

My arguments:
-If preventing a life due to abortion is bad, then any type of birth control is equally bad
-You cannot murder what is not yet alive. A fetus in the first trimester has no consciousness, and cannot feel pain, it isn't aware of its own existence
-Mother's should have a choice to what happens to their body
-Controlling birth is an efficient method of preventing human overpopulation
-It is cruel to force a pregnant woman to die just because the child will live longer than her
-It is irresponsible to force someone that cannot take care of a child to give birth

My opponents arguments:
-A full life (like a newborn baby) is worth more than a part life (like a mother) given by the equation C x Q x D = V Where C is the chance, Q is the quality decrease, and D is the duration.

So in retrospect con has given us only one argument.

Refuting of my opponents argument:
While I do not believe we need to bring math into an abortion argument, I would like to point out that my opponents equations are incorrect. Q should be quality of life, not decrease in quality of life. What we are trying to represent is that a higher number = more valuable life. The way my opponent has fraised it, a bigger decrease in quality of life would result in a higher value. This would mean that a woman with a worse life is more valuable than a woman with a good life.

I would also like to point out that you cannot accurately boil down the value of any single life to a mathematical equation. That is just absurd.

Defending my arguments:

Birth control argument:
I once again state that if preventing a life due to abortion is bad, than so is any type of birth control. Either you must hold birth control, condoms, and oral sex to the same standard of evil as abortion, or you must reconsider your argument. Any fertile man and woman have the potential to create a child. Anything which allows sex and prevents children is a form of birth control. My opponents argument against this is somewhat confusing:
- "I would like my opponent to support the contention that a fertile man in Canada and a fertile woman in New Zealand can create a child""
So your saying that two people that live far away from each do not have the potential to create a child? I'm not entirely sure what this has to do with my point...

Mothers right argument:
A mother should have the right to choose what happens with her own body. If the fetus is considered to be part of the mother, and we assume the first statement to be true, than logically she should be allowed to abort.
If someone is not in a position to make decisions for themselves, than their right to make decisions is forfeited to their next of kin. This law is held world wide. If we assume that this is morally correct, then a mother should have the right to choose what happens to the fetus.

Overpopulation is a debate in itself. I don't think my opponent realizes the dramatic effects over population would have on the human race. War, world wide poverty, economic collapse due to scarcity of resources, hunger, and disease would be rampant throughout the earth. Obviously this is something to avoid. Birth control gives us a means of controlling the population. It is considered a kindness to neuter and spayed pet's in order to stop them from overpopulating, and starving on the streets.

If you believe a mother should be forced to die so that she may give birth, simply because the child would live longer than she would, congratulations to my opponent, vote con. If you believe that there should be some middle ground, vote pro!

Lastly I would just like to say that although I feel my opponent and I were speaking different languages throughout this debate, it was nonetheless fun. Thank you Con, I enjoyed debating this with you.


My opponent seems to think that the quantity of arguments is important in a debate, not the quality. This is demonstrably false, as anyone can fabricate thousands of worthless arguments that do not prove a point, whereas even one that does is superior to them all.

Now to examine my opponent's response to the utilitarian math.

While my opponent may think that is easier to represent a higher number as a happier life, this is not what I was trying to demonstrate. What I was demonstrating was that the decrease in quality of life for a mother who does not have an abortion is less than the decrease in quality of life for the aborted fetus. Thus, the higher numbers do not represent lower values, as my opponent has insinuated. Rather, it is like this:

If G is the level of happiness in the rest of the world when the woman must make their decision for abortion, QA is the quality of life decrease for the aborted fetus, and QN is the decrease for the woman who does not get an abortion, these are the resulting happiness levels:

If she gets an abortion, the result will be GA.
If she does not, the result will be GN.

GA = G - QA
GN = G - QN

As I have proven in the last round, QN < QA, as even my opponent has conceded this.

Since G is constant, we have proven thusly that GN > GA, meaning that there is now mathematical proof that the overall happiness is greater when one does not have an abortion.

Lastly, my opponent has stated that it is absurd to represent the values of life to a mathematical equation. However my opponent has not objected to Utilitarian morality, which represents the moral value of something in terms of happiness. Happiness is a one-dimensional property, and thus it can be represented as a variable in an equation. John Stuart Mill himself developed means for comparing and weighing happiness.

What my argument about the man in Canada and the woman in New Zealand is that they cannot create a child, thus your absolute statement that any fertile man and any fertile woman can create a child is false. I even explained this in my contention previously in the last round.

The "Mother's Right" argument only holds so long as we assume a fetus to be part of a mother's body. I reject this statement, as a fetus is simply dependent upon its mother resources. You might say that being dependent upon its mother's resources means that it is part of its mother's body. This is incorrect, because children are also dependent upon their parents but we clearly do not consider them part of their mother's body and most certainly do not grant parents permission to murder their children.

The problem with the overpopulation argument is that it ignores two very important facets of human existence.

Firstly, increased automation vastly increases the amount of resources available to humans throughout history. With the advent of increased resources production and programmable labor bots, a future of plenty is fast approaching. There is not historical precedent for the kind of technology that is soon to become thousands of times more productive than our current laborers. That has problems of its own, namely unemployment, but the lack of resources is simply not a part of our future.

This leads into my second point, distribution of resources. Even without the future of plenty ahead, there is still enough resources available to humans today to cover the cost for all the humans alive. The problem lies in the resource distribution system, in which large amounts of resources are concentrated into a small percent of the population. Fixing this problem will take time, but needless to say, our current resources can support a large population of billions.

In summary, my opponent's arguments do not properly apply to the abortion issue and the math of Utilitarianism supports not aborting a fetus. Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Surrealism 3 years ago
8000 characters (the default limit) is hardly a novel.
Posted by TheTom 3 years ago
No one wants to read a novel for a debate. I set the character limit at 3500 so our points would be kept concise and easy to read. Secondly, you knew the character limit going into the debate, so don't complain about it after the fact.
Posted by Surrealism 3 years ago
I wish I could have posted longer arguments, but TheTom set the character limit at 3500.
Posted by alyfish126 3 years ago

check out the very last paragraph
Posted by Mike_10-4 3 years ago
Abortion is murder!

ThoTom [Pro] should thank Pro"s parents for not killing Pro, before Pro was born. Otherwise, the rest of humanity on today would not have the pleasure to debate such insanity.

On the other hand, for those who support abortion, will kill their child. For those who are against abortion, will save their child. Thank God for the Natural Selection process in evolution. The abortionist will eventually become extinct.
Posted by Dynasty2468 3 years ago
Dynasty2468 mean abortion with no restriction? Or abortion WITH restriction.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by NathanDuclos 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: The Instigator made a better argument as it was more clear. . . it was close but I could understand Pro better then the Contender
Vote Placed by Jingle_Bombs 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Not your typical abortion debate. Never imagined seeing a pro-choice argument that acknowledged "you cannot simplify (in this case mathematically) the value of human life." Or a pro-lifer claiming that you can. I'm voting for Con however because Pro did not adequately demonstrate that a Fetus is not alive. A fully functioning human being -like a fetus- may also lack consciousness and pain sensory during sleep and amnesia, but still be alive. A better argument therefore, must be made to me that a fetus is not alive because it is part of a mother's body. He fails to convince me of this when I consider a fetus also has a father.