The Instigator
RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Paradigm
Con (against)
Winning
10 Points

The Pregnancy Criminalization Law is none of the government's business

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Paradigm
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/12/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,432 times Debate No: 58855
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (29)
Votes (2)

 

RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial

Pro

Rules:
Please be respectful and nice. Please do not be rude.
No personal attacks against other members or a member's opinions.
You must agree that this will be a fair debate, using unfair advantages is not allowed.
No use of profanities or swear words.
No use of racial, sexual or religious slurs.
No threats or implications thereof.
No cheating.

My name is Emily Molloy, chairman of the Royalist Tea Party.

"At the beginning of July, 26-year-old Mallory Loyola gave birth to a baby girl. Two days later, the state of Tennessee charged her with assault. Loyola is the first woman to be arrested under a new law in Tennessee that allows the state to criminally charge mothers for potentially causing harm to their fetuses by using drugs." - http://goo.gl...

The Royalist Tea Party believes this is yet another instance where, instead of putting policy towards making a situation better, we put policy towards criminalization. And wow, is this frustrating to read about. First round is acceptance for my opponent, after acceptance I will then provided my arguments that the government has no business arresting this person on such "assault" charges.

Paradigm

Con

I accept this challenge. I will argue that this law falls under the purview of the government's duty to protect its citizens and its interest in maintaining public health.
Debate Round No. 1
RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial

Pro

I would just like to thank my opponent for accepting our debate. Now let's begin with the arguments.

Our country chooses to waste our tax dollars by locking up these kind of people instead of getting them the care they need. In fact, there's no injury to the fetus as studies have found that exposing fetuses to these kind of drugs is about as harmful as exposing them to cigarettes.[1]

Stopping completely could cause a miscarriage - so putting her in jail may well accomplish the pregnancy termination.[2] This country is supposed to be a capitalist society with individualism.

"Capitalism is an economic system in which trade, industry, and the means of production are largely or entirely privately owned and operated for profit."[3] "Individualism is a social theory favoring freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control."[4]

Like other health issues, should be addressed through our public health system and not through our criminal system or our welfare system. That's just harsh and extremely uncalled for. Plus, the criminalization of pregnant women impacts women[6] who often end up losing custody of their children.[5]

Sources:
[1] http://goo.gl..., http://goo.gl...
[2] http://goo.gl...
[3] http://goo.gl...
[4] http://goo.gl...
[5] http://goo.gl...
[6] http://goo.gl...
Paradigm

Con

Commentary on the Resolution: In the interest of being fully clear, I'd like to begin by going over what the debate is about. Pro has not clearly stated a thesis, but my interpretation of her argument is, "The government should not arrest women on assault charges for using illegal drugs during pregnancy." I consider this to be the most fair and charitable interpretation, but Pro can offer further clarification if she disagrees.

Introduction: My argument is based on the assumption that governments have an obligation to protect their citizens from harm. This obligation includes the right to inflict punishments on people in order to deter such harm. I will defend this assumption if Pro chooses to make it the focus of the debate, but it is accepted by nearly all political ideologies. Since drug use during pregnancy causes harm to infants, the government is allowed, and indeed required, to punish individuals who partake in such acts.

Arguments:

(1)
Drug use during pregnancy causes harm to infants.

Pro's own sources concede this fact [1]. According to "The 'Drug Baby' Myth and Its Consequences on Children", "...there are obviously serious health risks with any drug use during pregnancy..." The paper by Lorenn Walker is primarily concerned with the social consequences of labelling children as "drug babies" - a separate topic from this debate. Because of this focus, it is concerned with the comparative effects of illegal drugs, especially crack cocaine, and legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco. However, for the purposes of this debate, we are concerned with whether illegal drug use during pregnancy is harmful to infants at all, not with how harmful it is relative to other risks.

The list of specific effects of illegal drug use during pregnancy is well documented and long [2] - a summary on Wikipedia mentions premature birth, birth defects, and attention deficit disorder as consequences of prenatal cocaine exposure. Prenatal methamphetamine exposure has similar effects. Prenatal exposure to marijuana is apparently worse - it is known to cause a litany of physical and mental defects.

(2) The government should punish people who willfully cause harm to others.

Assuming that the government is obligated to protect its citizens from harm, it must back up its active protection with threats of punishment. Studies have shown that the more people believe they are likely to be punished for criminal activities, the less likely they are to commit crimes [3]. In this specific case, the government can deter women from harming their children by using drugs during pregnancy with the threat of punishment that is intrinsic to an assault charge. By no means is this the only tool that the government should use to prevent this kind of behavior - but it must exist as an option of last resort.

(3) The government has an interest in preserving public health.

The government and all the citizens of a country suffer as public health declines. Less healthy people are less productive, resulting in fewer goods and services for the average person, and lowered tax revenue for the government. The increased healthcare costs and reduction of government income are a burden that must be borne collectively. Consequently, the government is justified in taking actions to improve public health. The extent of government intervention must be limited according to the individual liberties of citizens, the amount of funds available, and other competing considerations. The government is exercising this prerogative entirely legitimately by attempting to reduce the number of infants born with health problems caused by drugs through use of the criminal justice system.

Rebuttals:

(I) Protocol

Pro did not organize her arguments in any specific way, so I am going to offer rebuttals to them by summarizing their claims in a rough order. I will try to be as charitable in my interpretation as possible when I am paraphrasing. This form of organization to make my own responses easier for readers to follow - it is not intended to be binding on Pro in any way.

(1) Imprisoning these offenders is a waste of tax dollars; it would be better to spend the funds on treatment.

I urge readers to remember that we are discussing offenders who are charged with assault by virtue of the effects of their drug use upon their unborn children. Their drug use in itself is a secondary issue. Therefore, although I will agree that drug addicts should receive treatment, I will also maintain that those who intentionally cause harm to others to satisfy their drug habits are entirely deserving of incarceration. The cost of the punishment is justified by the deterrence that it creates.

(2) Prenatal exposure to illegal drugs does not significantly harm infants because it is no worse than exposure to cigarettes.

As I mentioned above, saying that illegal drugs are as harmful as legal drugs is not the same thing as saying that illegal drugs are not harmful. They have been shown to be very harmful. All this suggests to me is that smoking while pregnant should also be a criminal act, but that is outside the purview of this debate.

(3) Cessation of drug use during pregnancy can cause miscarriage.

This is not a good argument against the law for a number of reasons. Most importantly, the intention of the law is obviously to incentive women to cease drug use before becoming pregnant at all. A woman could not stop using drugs midway through her pregnancy to avoid charges - when she is pregnant and has used drugs, she has committed the crime. Secondly, miscarriage is still preferable to birth with physical and mental defects from a public health perspective. The former is a short-term injury suffered by a single person, the latter results in a person who may be a healthcare liability for decades. Finally, miscarriage results in the death of a fetus, and a fetus does not have a right to life in the United States. However, when a child is born with birth defects, the harm is suffered by a person entitled to the full protections of the law.

(4) This country is supposed to be a capitalist society with individualism.

There is no obvious conflict between having a capitalist economic policy and laws that restrict drug use during pregnancy. This issue is at best tangentially related to free trade. The individual liberties of the mother are no being illegitimately restricted anymore than they are when people are prohibited from causing direct physical harm to others in general. It would make more sense to say that the individual rights of the infant are being protected.

(5) This issue should be addressed through the public health system, not the criminal justice system.

There is no reason why an issue cannot be addressed through multiple channels. Drug addiction is a health issue, and should be addressed from a public health perspective. However, when drug addiction causes direct harm to innocent third parties, it becomes a criminal justice issue as well.

(6) This law is too harsh.

There is no reason to think that it is more or less harsh than laws that prohibit assault in general. Assault is a very serious crime which can have permanent and devastating consequences for its victims. It is entirely appropriate for it to be punished harshly.

(7) This law can cause women to lose their children.

If a woman is addicted to illegal drugs and uses them during pregnancy, that is an entirely legitimate reason for her to lose custody of her children.

Conclusion:

The Pro argument often conflates the public health concerns of drug addiction with the criminal justice concerns of causing harm to an infant. The criminal justice concern cannot be ignored. Additionally, the Pro argument is riddled with factual inaccuracies and red herrings that distract from the argument.

Commentary on Sources:

Pro inflates her list of sources with definitions of commonly used words and citations of facts that are not in dispute and do not help her argument. This creates the illusion of detailed research where none has occurred, and it introduces unnecessary tedium into the debate. I have limited my sources to those that were directly related to factual matters that might be in dispute. I remind voters to take this into account when awarding the sources point.

Sources:

[1] http://tinyurl.com...
[2] http://tinyurl.com...
[3] http://tinyurl.com...

Debate Round No. 2
RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial

Pro

(1). The research also states:..... "No studies have shown that prenatal cocaine exposure causes unique developmental dysfunction"...."Despite the lack of supportive research, the belief that drug babies suffer permanent damage".... "Richardson and Day, who have done extensive research on drug-exposed infants, published preliminary data about the use of cocaine, crack, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs during each trimester of pregnancy (Richardson and Day, 1994). Their data and analysis show that "the effects of cocaine use on infant outcome were an illusion."

(2). Where's the evidence? And I don't mean an article that you read that says it's bad, I mean the actual statistics. Actual reports that say cannabis causes these problems in children. You won't get any. The only thing people are going to say is to stop because it can harm your baby. What the government is doing is taking her freedom away just because they, and others, don't like what she does with her own child and own life. We cannot even prove it actually does harm, yet can talk and talk and talk about it. The bottom line is, we officially don't know, so why make it a crime if it's just a theory?

(3). We favour restoring and reviving a free market health care system. We recognise the freedom of individuals to determine the level of health insurance they want (if any), the level of health care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care, including end-of-life decisions. People should be free to purchase health insurance across state lines. Tere's nothing wrong with THC during pregnancy. It's not going to hurt the fetus. The only debatable issue is smoking it. I don't think any type of smoke that enters your lungs during pregnancy is good, but again, it's not going to hurt the baby. And another problem is that if you smoke the whole pregnancy, you and your baby will test positive if drug tested and then you could get in serious trouble from CPS if you do not have a medical marijuana card! But other than that, there's no evidence that THC is harmful to you or your baby. These are just theories people talk about, the government has no business to treat these people like criminals.
Paradigm

Con

Arguments:

(1)

Pro's rebuttal to this argument is based on the same two misconceptions that lead her to believe that the Walker paper was favorable to the Pro side in the first place. The first misconception is the argument that "No studies have shown that prenatal cocaine exposure causes unique developmental dysfunction..." [emphasis mine]. This statement is correct, but it actually supports the proposition that I am defending here. What Walker says is that cocaine causes no unique development dysfunction - that is, no developmental dysfunctions that are unique to cocaine. This statement is intended to be read as a refutation of the idea that "crack babies" are somehow more damaged than infants prenatally exposed to other dangerous drugs. In no way is Walker arguing that cocaine does not cause developmental dysfunction.

The second misconception is that uncertainty about the effects of one particular drug (cocaine) is sufficient to show that a law concerned with the effects of narcotics in general is fundamentally flawed. Even if it were somehow proven that cocaine exposure does not have any deleterious effects on fetuses, this would only suggest that a small modification of the law to make an exception for cocaine is in order. It would not mean that the law is on balance disadvantageous, because there are so many other drugs about which the dangers are well established. Additionally, the jury is far from out over the effects of prenatal exposure to cocaine. Although the effects were once greatly exaggerated, that does not warrant an extreme shift in the other direction. Many risk factors previously associated with cocaine have been found to result from other factors - but far from all. According to Wikipedia, prenatal cocaine exposure has been definitely linked to premature birth ("17-27% of cocaine using pregnant women deliver prematurely"), spontaneous abortion, low birth weight, fetal vitamin deficiencies, respiratory distress syndrome, and infarction of the bowels. "The increased risk of placental abruption with cocaine use has been well documented". [1]

Wikipedia has a number of internal citations backing up these statements - I cannot provide them myself because many are medical papers behind paywalls or print books.

What Pro's sources are telling us is that certain disabilities commonly associated with prenatal cocaine exposure have not mean scientifically validated. This my no means suggests that there are no developmental problems associated with cocaine use at all.

(2)

Pro asks for studies demonstrating that prenatal exposure to narcotics is dangerous. Ask, and ye shall receive:

[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

This is what I could find by searching for a few minutes with minimal effort and no with no experience looking up medical studies. All of these papers clearly state in their abstracts that the effects of the drugs they studied are both harmful and definitive. By no stretch of the imagination is this "just a theory".

Anyway, that question should properly have gone under the previous argument. My argument (2) is "The government should punish people who willfully cause harm to others." So far as I can tell, Pro does not actually have a response to that argument - her rebuttals just pertain to argument (1). She does have a few comments that seem vaguely related. For example:

"What the government is doing is taking her freedom away just because they, and others, don't like what she does with her own child and own life."

This seems very dubious as an argument against the idea that the government should punish people who harm others. Would it be a violation of a mother's freedom to punish her for beating her child so severely as to cause permanent mental and physical damage? Of course not. So why would it be a violation of her freedom to punish her for taking drugs that, as per argument (1), have the same effect? In both cases, she intentionally does something that she knows will cause harm to her child. Protecting that child's right to be free from harm should take priority over allowing the mother to do absolutely anything she wants.

(3)

A lot of Pro's comments under this rebuttal section seem random and only tangentially related to the debate. For example, I have no idea what Pro's belief that "[p]eople should be free to purchase health insurance across state lines" has to do with this debate. This strikes me as having been copy-pasted from a political platform of some kind. Regardless, I move that voters should take Pro's derailing of the debate into account when awarding the Arguments and Conduct points if more irrelevant content is posted in the next round.

Pro also offers more arguments that properly belong in the rebuttal of argument (1). Specifically, large portions of this rebuttal concern the effects of prenatal exposure to marijuana. Some of the studies I introduced under argument (2) cover this topic. I also introduced sources backing up my argument that marijuana has harmful effects on fetuses in Round 2. Pro has no introduced any competing sources on this question, and I have more than satisfied her request for reputable sources of my own, so I think it would be redundant for me to address this topic for a third time.

Nothing that Pro says in this rebuttal actually relates to the thesis of (3) - "The government has an interest in preserving public health." The closest thing to a contradiction of this statement that Pro offers is "[w]e favour restoring and reviving a free market health care system." Pro does not actually defend her belief that a free market healthcare system would be favorable in any way. However, there is no need to even debate the issue. The government still has an interest in promoting public health even if it may no do so through regulation of the healthcare sector of the economy. I have opted to justify the so-called "Pregnancy Criminalization Act" on the basis that it protects newborns from harm. This is a matter of criminal law, not off regulation of the health-care sector. Even in a country with a free market healthcare system, the government would be within its authority to take public health concerns into account when determining criminal law.

Rebuttals:

Pro has dropped all of my rebuttals. There are some statements in her rebuttals that might constitute defenses of some of her original arguments, and I have addressed them there. However, Pro has for the post part failed to offer any defense of her arguments in Round 2. Therefore, I simply extent these arguments. Pro has time to answer my rebuttals in the next round. Although it would normally be considered bad conduct to drop arguments and pick them up again, I will ask that voters not penalize Pro for doing so if she so chooses. However, if Pro never responses to these rebuttals at all, then voters must favor the Con side by default.

Sources:

[1] http://tinyurl.com...;
[2] http://tinyurl.com...;
[3] http://tinyurl.com...;
[4] http://tinyurl.com...;
[5] http://tinyurl.com...;
[6] http://tinyurl.com...;
[7] http://tinyurl.com...;
[8] http://tinyurl.com...;
Debate Round No. 3
RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial

Pro

"This is what I could find by searching for a few minutes with minimal effort and no with no experience looking up medical studies."

I am not going to answer any of your arguments. You have failed to prove the evidence. And I don't mean an article that you read that says it's bad, I mean the actual statistics. Actual reports that say cannabis causes these problems in children. You won't get any. The only thing people are going to say is to stop because it can harm your baby. This is clear vote for Pro as Con can only talk and talk and talk about how it does harm and how this and that and this. Con has failed to prove any actual
evidence. Thank you for this debate.
Paradigm

Con

Pro has dropped every argument except the one that prenatal exposure to marijuana is harmful. I extend every other argument, including all seven of my rebuttals. Because these arguments have gone unanswered, voters should take the Con side by default unless they find it to be completely without merit.

Pro's argument that I have failed to provide actual evidence is just not true. My sources [5][6][7] from Round 3 cover the effects of prenatal exposure to marijuana in great detail, backing up the examples of dysfunctions related to marijuana that I introduced in Round 2. The evidence is so well documented that anyone with basic computer skills can find it - you do not need to be a researcher to confirm everything for yourself. As was my job in the debate, I have collected ample evidence for voters to verify that my statements are correct.

I am very disappointed that Pro has chosen to essentially forfeit the last round of the debate.
Debate Round No. 4
29 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial 3 years ago
RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial
Personally, as a Christian, I would never have one. But do support them.
Posted by RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial 3 years ago
RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial
Defined by academic journals, no a fetus has the potential to become a human being. At least according to the state's constitution the definition of what is a fetus determines the legality of the being itself. There is no legal value to the "abortion" issue, it is nothing more than a social issue. The 14th amendment of the United States holds our privacy matters. Therefore childbearing is a private matter that does not concern others who aren't directly involved. This country was established by law not by religion it is the only way to keep peace among it's citizens. Abortion should not be a legal issue whatsoever.
Posted by RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial 3 years ago
RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial
Of course you are just comparing situations to this issue, that's all you pro-lifers do in this case. Unless you can give me evidence that a fetus is a human being, this conversation will not continue.
Posted by LogicalLunatic 3 years ago
LogicalLunatic
You imply that the Pro-Life people should perhaps take upon themselves the responsibility of raising all America's children. But that's not the case, because each parent is responsible for their own kids. Let's say that you killed somebody. You did a pretty good job of hiding the body. But then one day, your friend Bob discovers the body in your closet. He then turns you in to the police. Since he reported you, should he be the one to spend time in prison for your crime? Of course not! You killed the guy, so it's your responsibility to make amends, and he is not at fault for making you accept responsibility. Of course, I'm not implying that you killed anybody. My example was a fictional one.
Posted by LogicalLunatic 3 years ago
LogicalLunatic
And I am equally sick of Pro Choicers saying that a fetus is not alive. If dependence on another thing or being to survive makes you not alive, then babies who need their mother's milk are not alive. Neither are people on Life Support. If you need a blood transfusion to survive then you are not alive. If you need an Inhaler because you have asthma then you are not alive. Fetuses simply have a higher dependence than humans at other stages of development. I mean, even many Pro Choicers will admit that a fetus is a life form of some kind.
Posted by RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial 3 years ago
RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial
I am sick of pro-lifers saying that a fetus, or even a zygote is a baby. It is not. If you remove a fetus from the womb at 15 or so weeks then it would most likely die, even if you removed it in a manner that would not hurt it. If it can't live outside a woman's body then is it living? What would be your plan to help take care of these children? Where would you get the money? Or is all this irrelevant to you as you only seem to care of the child being born.
Posted by LogicalLunatic 3 years ago
LogicalLunatic
So...it will end 100,000 lives in order to save 12 lives. My, what a great doctor you would make.
Posted by RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial 3 years ago
RoyalistTeaPartyOfficial
Embryonic stem cell research uses a human embryo, and is thought to be able to cure up to 70 major diseases and has actually been proven to cure cancer. If for every baby aborted we cured a dying cancer patient, there would actually be a bit of an equilibrium; no lives added, no lives taken away. However, there's more. Modern abortion procedures are very safe; in fact, the woman only has a one in 100,000 chance of death. On the other hand, a woman has a 13.3 out of 100,000 chance of dying from birth. So, for every 100,000 babies aborted, we'd be saving roughly 12 women. If you combine this with stem cell research, more loves are already being saved. Finally, one of the main reasons women have abortions is because it can interfere with her education or career goals. Either way, the end result is poverty for both the woman and the child. Statistics show that those who live in poorer communities are more likely to commit crime than those in the middle and upper class. More specifically, this will also mean that the murder rate will be lower than it would have been without abortion. In that case, abortion will save more lives of innocent civilians. In conclusion, saying that we need to end abortion for the sake of saving lives is not valid, as it is very clear that more lives will be saved with abortion.
Posted by LogicalLunatic 3 years ago
LogicalLunatic
Anyhow, you say that abortion none of the Government's business, then you implied that it's a good thing the Government funds abortion.
Posted by LogicalLunatic 3 years ago
LogicalLunatic
Whether or not Planned Parenthood "helps" people (or society at large) is very much so disputable. It certainly may be convenient to a pregnant woman, I do admit, but if a fetus has a soul then a woman's convenience is not worth the cost.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Preston 3 years ago
Preston
RoyalistTeaPartyOfficialParadigmTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro dropped cons arguments and then voted with a puppet account.
Vote Placed by lannan13 3 years ago
lannan13
RoyalistTeaPartyOfficialParadigmTied
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro dropped all of Con's arguments. Conduct goes to Con due to the Pro attacking Con's sources for no apparent reason. He was just grasping for straws at the end seemingly.