The Instigator
Billjunior
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
DanBe
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

Should abortion be legal, and if so, is it moral?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
DanBe
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/21/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 671 times Debate No: 94895
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)

 

Billjunior

Pro

In this debate, I, the instigator, will be arguing that abortion should be legal (in all counties), and that it is moral to have an abortion. For the purposes of the argument, let's define abortion as "the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy". Good luck to whomever may accept this challenge :)

Opening argument- Many people state that abortion is killing an inncoent person. While that is true, it does not entail that therefore abortion isn't moral. The fetus's right to live, does not entitle his to the use of your body, or in other words, the right to live, does not include the right to not be killed. I am more than willing to provide an analogy next round to support that statement if you have any trouble believing this claim.

Also, many people claim that it is okay to kill in self defence. But what if a foetus poses a threat to your mental and physical health. If your pregnacy will kill you and your baby, isn't it better have an abortion so at least the mother lives? May i remind you that if my opponent agrees with this, it may be a bit of a slippery slope.

A foetus also fits the definition of a parasite, which is "an organism which lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other's expense".
Now we all agree that if a leech attaches on to me an will die if i detach the leech, it is still perfectly moral to remove said leech. Parasites are detrimental to host, so if a person gets one, they should be allowed to relieve that threat.

I will try to avoid using the "my body, my rights" argument because we dont actually have the rights to our body- our soverign power does. If we did have our rights to our body, things like prositution and the selling of organs would be legal, but its not.

It is for these reasons (and more!) that i think abortion should be legal.
DanBe

Con

First off, I would like to wish my opponent good luck and thank them for instigating.

My Argument

When asking if abortion is morally acceptable there is often a distinction made between pregnancies from rape vs. consensual sex. I think it makes intuitive sense that an argument which can convince someone that termination of a pregnancy due to rape would translate to a non-rape pregnancy as well. Because of this, I aim all my arguments to be applied to rape and non-rape cases alike. Those who defend the mother's right to terminate generally bring that into question anyways. If PRO wishes to discuss the legal and moral aspects of a non-rape pregnancy abortion I will be willing to provide arguments for that as well.

I personally believe issues that are philosophically based lend themselves best through a format with a series of premises which leads to a conclusion. For those unaware of this argumentative style, here is a quick summary of what I am trying to do (http://www.bing.com...), but essentially I am trying to use non-controversial statements to lead to a controversial conclusion.

P1. If the human fetus possess "personhood", then it has inalienable natural rights
P2. If an entity has unalienable natural rights, then it has the right to life
P3. the violation of another person's right to life is only moral if it that person is threatening to violate someone else's right to life
P4. A fetus in a healthy pregnancy does not pose a threat to the mother's right to life
P5. A fetus has personhood.

Conclusion: it is immoral for a mother to terminate a healthy pregnancy

Support to the premises

P1. I will support the "personhood" portion of this later but here I wish to convey that human being have natural rights. This is in a nutshell what 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution is all about.

P2. In other words, one of the natural rights we posses is the right to life

P3. here I am trying to give a reason why some murder is morally justified. without this premise it makes all cop shootings a morally indecent act, any military campaign a sin, and acts of self defense morally ill-advised. This would all seem pretty absurd, so clearly we must agree upon some standard for ending another persons life. I think most will agree that the premise provides acceptable standard. I am open to other standards from my opponent to challenge this. May I add also that it is not enough for my opponent to simply produce an example which counters this. Surely there are cases which are not clear cut. This will hold true for any standard. instead, my opponent must put forward a better standard. Lets say for example there exists 100 different acts of murder which accounts for all permutations of moral considerations. If the standard I propose would be believed to cover 95% of cases accurately in the sense of morality, then my opponent would need to provide a standard that covers more than 95% of cases. Naturally this comes to a judgment call as there is no empirical method to which standards can be tested.

P4. self-explanatory, but to enforce my point, the average death rate associated with pregnancy in the U.S. is about 16 deaths every 100,000 pregnancies. In other words, 0.016% of pregnancies are fatal according to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov...).

P5. This premise is typically the one which is most contested, but interestingly my opponent seems to focus on attacking premise 3. In fact, my opponent and I seem to agree that the human fetus possess personhood. I will talk more about that later. So when discussing personhood it helps to have a place where all can agree. I think commonality can be found with agreeing that a typical healthy fully developed human has personhood. Now the question is, what is different between a human fetus and a fully developed adult for us to justify removing the personhood status of the fetus? I can find only four: size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency. a change in any of these variable does not seem appropriate to fully justify removing personhood status from a fetus.

Size - are children less of a person than adults?

Level of development - again I ask if children are less of a person then adults?

Environment - are those living homeless under a bridge less human than the Chinese millionaire in a mansion? Do humans gain or lose value based on location? Is the diver preparing on land less or more of a person when they enter the water?

Degree of dependency - again I can ask about children and adults but furthermore what about those suffering mental conditions such as dementia or aspergers. Are any of those people less of a person because of their increased dependency?

Here is more on this line of argument (http://www.str.org...).

Conclusion. Logical reasoning of the premises necessitates that the conclusion be true. My opponent can disprove this conclusion in two ways. First, identify a formal logical fallacy in the structure of the premises. second, disprove any one of the premises

To address the legal component of the debate, our laws should support our moral compass where possible.

Rebuttals

"Many people state that abortion is killing an innocent person. While that is true, it does not entail that therefore abortion isn't moral. The fetus's right to live, does not entitle his to the use of your body, or in other words, the right to live, does not include the right to not be killed"

First, the use of the word "person" implies personhood which grants the fetus inalienable natural rights such as the right to life. So it appears that my opponent and I agree that the fetus does have the right to life. I do not wish to unfairly represent my opponents arguments, I hope my opponent will clarify their position in the next round.

My opponent also needs to explain their position on how the right to life doesn't include the right to not be killed. This is actually not controversial, I think everyone can agree their are justified killings but the whole discussion we are having is about whether or not a mother is justified in killing her unborn child. Without an explanation of what is intended by this statement it is meaningless.

I can gather two ways which my opponent attempts to justify the killing of a fetus. First, an argument based on self defense. second, an argument based on comparing the fetus to a leech (or parasites in general).

Self defense argument - "Also, many people claim that it is okay to kill in self defence. But what if a foetus poses a threat to your mental and physical health. If your pregnancy will kill you and your baby, isn't it better have an abortion so at least the mother lives?"

I agree, self defense can justify the infringement of another person's right to life. however, I am hard pressed to think of other criteria which is acceptable to end another person's life, at least in terms of this discussion. So if a fetus is indeed jeopardizing the health of the mother, then the mother for the sake of protecting her right to life may abort the fetus, I agree to this statement from my opponent. The problem lies when abortion is used as a form of birth control and the abortion is due to reasons other than a threat to the mothers life. Because in a healthy pregnancy the child does not pose a threat to the mothers life, my opponent must show an alternative justification.

Parasite argument - "A foetus also fits the definition of a parasite, which is 'an organism which lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other's expense'"

I agree, the human fetus is akin to a leech in terms of both fitting the description of a parasite, but this does not morally justify abortions. A leech does not belong suckling on your skin which gives you every right to remove it. A fetus belongs in a mother's womb. Also lies is the issue of personhood.
Debate Round No. 1
Billjunior

Pro

Smart arguments, and well presented. I agreed with the majority of the premises your presented, however i find premise 3 somewhat problematic. For the sake of this argument, i'll accept that the fetus has personhood, and that it has the right to life (although i may dispute this later on). In this analogy, i will try to show you have the right to life, does not include the righ to kill.

Imagine this-
You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. The director of the hospital now tells you, "Look, we're sorry the Society of Music Lovers did this to you--we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the violinist is now plugged into you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it's only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you." Is it morally incumbent on you to accede to this situation? No doubt it would be very nice of you if you did, a great kindness. But do you have to accede to it? What if it were not nine months, but nine years? Or longer still? What if the director of the hospital says. "Tough luck. I agree. but now you've got to stay in bed, with the violinist plugged into you, for the rest of your life. Because remember this. All persons have a right to life, and violinists are persons. Granted you have a right to decide what happens in and to your body, but a person's right to life outweighs your right to decide what happens in and to your body. So you cannot ever be unplugged from him." I imagine you would regard this as outrageous. But is a human pregnacy any different?

I would imagine that if this is a good analogy for a human pregnacy, this should persude you that abortion should be moral (of course, you may argue that this analogy is flawed).

http://spot.colorado.edu...

counter-arguments: My opponent may argue that the victim in the scenrio didnt deliberately get kidnapped, but on the other hand, the pregnant mother did have sex deliberatly, with full knowledge that having sex makes you pregnant. But what if the mother used contrception. Now the mother did not deliberatly get pregnant- even though she knows the contrceptive may fail. Likewise, you still go outside in full knowlege that kidnappers exist, and may kidnap you and attach you to the violin player's circulatory system. Both cases tryed to prevent a risk, but the prevention failed. The analogy should'nt fail here.

Back to my analogy, you would force yourself to be attached to the violinist, because detaching yourself from him would kill him, and his right to life would be breached, and we should never breach an innocent persons right to live.
My my main point is that our right to live, does not include the right to be given the means necessary to live.

If i was about to die, and the only thing that could save me was the pope's hand on my forehead, it would be ridiculous if the pope was forced to travel here to save my life. If he did, that would be nice, but he is not obligated to. Now (hopefully), you may start to see how our right to life does not include the right to be given the means necessary to live.

In a real pregnancy, the fetuses supposed right to live, does not entitle the fetus to the right to your body. Killing the fetus would just be a side effect of not being pregnant, like the doctrine of double effect (DDE) would say- forseen harms are OK, while intended harms are not OK.

P1. If the human fetus possess "personhood", then it has inalienable natural rights
P2. If an entity has unalienable natural rights, then it has the right to life
P3. the violation of another person's right to life is only moral if it that person is threatening to violate someone else's right to life
P4. A fetus in a healthy pregnancy does not pose a threat to the mother's right to life
P5. A fetus has personhood.

Conclusion: it is immoral for a mother to terminate a healthy pregnancy

In this round I am arguing that aborting a fetus does not violate its supposed right to live, and therefore the conclusion must be false. I find the right to live extremely problematic, and can cause some really intersting moral conumdrums.
Also, i know google says the the right to live DOES include the right not to be killed, but I am attempting to refute that definition, so try not to beg the question.

Smart move to my opponent for including premise 4. I was hoping my opponent would commit some fallacy for something to make life easier, but looks like you did a good job. Good luck for the next round!
DanBe

Con

Now, there are many reasons why this violinist argument does not validate abortions, but first, I think it is worth mentioning some common ground between my opponent and me. I agree, it is morally acceptable to unplug even knowing that the violinist will die. I disagree that the argument is relatable to abortions.

Detached from reality

Thought experiments are a good tool to untangle moral conundrums, but only if there is a reasonable proportion which is rooted in reality. Without any root in reality its relevance is confounded. The violinist argument involves a corrupt bunch of musicians with knowledge about the population’s blood type, a fictional human dialysis treatment which lasts nine months, a fictional kidney disease with an oddly strict solution to be cured, and a hospital director which would allow this procedure to occur in his hospital. I think most would agree that all of these elements lean on the side of being fictitious.

Realize that I am not saying that a thought experiment cannot have fictitious elements, but as a thought experiment increases the proportion of the fictitious elements, it becomes less and less satisfying. To illustrate this, let’s take a look at the jumps which the arguments is asking its audience to take…

• Being kidnapped is like being raped and removes the choice element from getting pregnant
• Being connected (who knows how this really works by the way) to another person is like being pregnant
• The disease of the violinist mimics an unborn child’s dependency
• The relationship between the kidnapped person and the medical staff is like a pregnant mother’s relationship with her family doctor
• The violinist has the same innocence as a fetus
• Finally, the act of unplugging is akin to the medical procedure of abortion

To sympathize with the argument, one has to agree with all of the jumps the argument is asking. It only takes a rejection of one of these jumps to falsify the argument. To help demonstrate why this matters, let’s imagine an author writing a documentary. This author is very diligent and has a team even to help him check all of his facts. In all there are 1,000 objectively verifiable facts. A paradox arises where the author is sure each individual of the 1,000 facts are true while at the same time he believes there is a mistake in his book somewhere. This comes from probability. The author is not literally 100% sure his facts are correct as there many reasons an incorrect fact can occur. He is actually, for sake of argument, 99.9% sure of each fact’s correctness. While each fact is overwhelmingly more than likely correct, there is only a 36.8% (feel free to check my math on that one) that they are all true.

To bring this in terms of the violinist argument, consider how many opportunities there are to question the jump. This is like the facts made by the author. If we cannot be 100% certain about every single one of the “facts” or “jumps” then for every additional uncertain element added the argument as a whole becomes increasingly fragile.

Lack of equivalence – “unplugging” vs. abortion

The “jump” which I disagree with the most is the assumption that unplugging from the violinist is equivalent to getting an abortion. What needs to be considered is how death occurs in an abortion vs. an unplugging. As I said before, the violinist dies because of a fatal kidney disease. A fetus dies because a lethal amount of heart stopping pharmaceuticals combined with dismemberment (https://www.youtube.com...). The difference is that in one case, actions are being done to withhold lifesaving treatment leading to an end of life and in another, actions are being done to actively end a life.
To clarify this point, let’s make a slight change to the violinist argument. What if the person who wants to unplug were to first pull out a knife and stab the violinist 37 times in the chest... and then unplugs? Is this ok? I think most will agree that this seems wrong even while still agreeing that it is ok to simply unplug. Again, one act is a passive killing and another is active.

Alternative Thought Experiment

Here I would like to demonstrate a thought experiment which is both analogous to a pregnancy and makes it clear that abortion is morally bankrupt.

Imagine a woman carrying a baby is kidnapped by some delusional psychopath and placed in a snowed-in log cabin. The woman wakes up and immediately fears for the life of her child and scours the cabin for her child. She hears crying from the room beside her and finds not her child, but someone else’s child. She searches the cabin and finds no way to escape, a nine month supply of baby formula, and a note which reads “in nine months help will arrive to save you. However, if you wished to be saved sooner there are knives in the drawer you can use to kill the child. Do this and we will come save you immediately.”

If the mother chooses she wants to be rescued immediately and stabs the child to death, is she committing an immoral act? I think most people’s intuition will agree. I also argue that this situation is more analogous to abortion/pregnancy than the violinist argument due to a more accurate representation of how abortions are performed and uses a more morally equivalent entity to play the role of the fetus.

Rebuttals

“If i was about to die, and the only thing that could save me was the pope's hand on my forehead, it would be ridiculous if the pope was forced to travel here to save my life.”

Agreed, but this does not relate to P3 because the pope is not infringing on a right to life by withholding “treatment.”

“Killing the fetus would just be a side effect of not being pregnant, like the doctrine of double effect (DDE) would say- forseen harms are OK, while intended harms are not OK.”

This argument has several issues associated with it…
1.) DDE as a philosophical theory has problems. It consists of four premises, all of which are heavily contested. Primarily, how does one set a consistent measure for identifying intended consequences vs. foreseen consequences? [http://science.kennesaw.edu...]
2.) Let’s ignore point one and assume DDE is a valid theory. The theory requires that the good and bad consequences be equivalent. I argue that the death of an innocent life and an increase in happiness of the mother are non-equivalent outcomes.
3.) Again, Let’s assume DDE is valid. When someone claims that an abortion’s end goal is to simply stop a mother from being pregnant, fetal death is just an unfortunate side effect, we must consider the means to which this can be achieved. Using means-end reasoning, the only way to stop a mother from being pregnant is to abort the fetus. Since the success of ending pregnancy is measured by the whether or not the fetus is alive, it becomes one of the intentions. Something is only foreseen if we are not using the action to measure our success. [https://www.jstor.org...]

“I know google says the the right to live DOES include the right not to be killed, but I am attempting to refute that definition”

The definition of the right to life does not grant an absolute right to life. There are limitations. My opponent and I are in agreement that the universal right to life does have caveats. There are four restrictions: legitimate defense, Detaining and preventing the escape of a Detainee, Uprising and Quelling Rebellions, and War actions. There are also cases in which a court is allowed to issue the death penalty but that relates to punishing those who have committed crimes [http://sam.gov.tr...]. In order for my opponent’s argument to have any substantive quality they need to specify which restriction(s) there is disagreement upon or how one of the restrictions grants it morally/legally acceptable to perform an abortion.
Debate Round No. 2
Billjunior

Pro

As this is the final argument, i would like to start by saying that it has been a very good and entertaining debate so far, and i thank you for accepting. Now lets get onto my rebuttals/counter arguments.

Actually, i still think the analogy holds up. Let me explain why.

Innocent violinist represents the innocent fetus
The dependence of the violinist of your blood mimics the dependence of the fetus on the mother
The nice months you spend with the violinist compares with the 9 months of pregnancy.
The kidnapping represents the failed contraception (you didn't think the kidnapping would happen, but it did, likewise you didn't think the contraception would fail, but it did)

Also, if you agree that you can unplug yourself from the violinist, you have violated your premise three, which states that
"P3. the violation of another person's right to life is only moral if it that person is threatening to violate someone else's right to life"
So if my opponent thinks that unplugging yourself fom the violinist is moral, the your premise three cannot be true, because you would be violating the violinists right to live, EVEN THOUGH HE DOES NOT POSE A THREAT TO ANYONE ELSE'S LIFE! checkmate (maybe).

Unplugging yourself from the violinist means that a person's right to life DOESNT include the right not to be killed, and DOESNT include the right to the resources to secure your right to life. Similarly, the fetus doesnt have to right to secure it's right to life.

Con just agreed to kill a person by removing it's lifeline, even though that person was innocent.
I also agree to kill a person (or fetus) by removing it's lifeline (the mother), even though that person (or fetus) is innocent.
So i would appreciate it if my opponent could point out the supposed flaw in my above statement, as well as rewrite his premise three, which he contradicted.

On top of this, I agree with Con that my analogy is far, far away from reality. But it sole purpose was to prove to everyone that it is ok to kill people that are completely innocent and do not pose a threat to anyone.

Also, can Con provide his opinion to whether or not abortion should be allowed if contraception was used, but it failed. This crucial as the analogy only works with contraception being used.

In round two, you said that "The difference is that in one case, actions are being done to withhold lifesaving treatment leading to an end of life and in another, actions are being done to actively end a life. "
I would argue that the abortion's aim isn't done to end a life- if the baby could just be teleported to adoption centers instead of having an abortion, i think most mothers would prefers the teleportation option. This shows that abortions arent done to actively end the life, but instead to relieve the responsibility and stress that comes with pregnancy. In other words, we are withholding lifesaving treatment (or in this case, the nutrients from the mother), which leads to the end of a life. Sounds awfully similar you the time when you said "actions are being done to withhold lifesaving treatment leading to an end of life and in another"

And with that i will concludemy first debate on debate.org :)

Good luck with next round- I didn't come into this expecting my mind to be changed but i defiantly learnt something from your arguments- thx alot!
DanBe

Con

In interest of keeping things fair for my opponent, I wont be rebutting any arguments except for new ones. This way both parties will have had the same opportunities for rebuttals. Then, like I said, for my fairness, I think it is reasonable that I be given the chance to respond to new arguments.

Rebuttals

Abortion should not be allowed even when contraceptives are used. The use of some kind of deterrent does not remove an action from its consequences. Lets take a case where a drunk driver hits someone and kills them instantly. Did the driver mean to do it? no. But, what if I said he drove 5 miles per hour under the speed limit and took side streets to avoid this from happening? We do not say "well since you did not mean to do it..." no, he gets prosecuted for manslaughter.

I have a thought experiment for this one as well. Imagine a machine exists which has a two big buttons on it. When someone presses these button they experience intense euphoric pleasure for five minutes. On the machine it reads "if you press this button, there is a 1% chance a baby will come out of it." the other button has a sign above it as well, it reads "this button provides slightly less pleasure, but only a 0.1% chance a baby will come out of it." If someone presses the button which provides lower pressure (mimicking a condom) in trade for a lower chance to become pregnant and a baby comes out, is it morally ok for the person to just leave the baby there to die? Keep in mind, there is always the option to not press the button guaranteeing that no baby will be produced.

See, when someone does an action with multiple outcomes but only desires one of the outcomes, they have to except the chance outcomes which they do not intend and the consequences which pair with these consequences.

"I would argue that the abortion's aim isn't done to end a life- if the baby could just be teleported to adoption centers instead of having an abortion, i think most mothers would prefers the teleportation option."

I would be fine with abortion if that were actually an option. Since current technology only knows how to end a pregnancy by means of death to the fetus that argument is irrelevant. It is like If I killed my spouse to get life insurance money and told you that I did not want her to die I just wanted the money. Well, if the only way I could get the money was to set up her death then of course I had to have had intention in killing her.

Conclusion

Here are some points/arguments which my opponent has not responded to...
  • my analogy to pregnancy/abortion
  • no response to stabbing the violinist before unplugging
  • arguments against DDE
  • no explanation on which restriction in the right to life my opponent disagrees with
I think I have satisfactory demonstrated that there is no moral grounds to which an abortion can be performed.

Comments About my Opponent

There are several things my opponent and I can agree on namely our stance that it is morally acceptable to unplug from the violinist. Our primary disagreement seems to be the moral difference between "the right to not be saved" (for a lack of a better phrasing) and "the right to not be killed" and how these terms relate to justifying a violation in someone's right to life. There is also disagreement as to which category abortion belongs to.

I formally thank my opponent for the debate. It was a very enjoyable engagement. Abortion is a topic which holds fantastic consequences both for the rights of the mother and the rights of the child. The answer is not easy, but with sufficient discussion of the matter I believe the question is solvable.

Vote Con :)
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by canis 1 year ago
canis
MC D. is legal...Therefore killing is legal. Osama was not legal...Therefore killing was legal..
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TN05 1 year ago
TN05
BilljuniorDanBeTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD: http://www.debate.org/forums/entertainment/topic/92375/