The abortion limit should be set at 20 weeks
Debate Rounds (3)
Abortion: a medical procedure used to end a pregnancy and cause the death of the fetus. [reference- http://www.merriam-webster.com......]
First round is for acceptance only. I look forward to a thought-provoking debate.
Right, so a fetus at the moment of conception, we agree, is probably not worthy of having the same value as an adult human.
I expect we also agree that a newborn baby has the same value as an adult human.
So the question is, where is the line?
The line should be based on when the fetus goes from not having the same value as an adult human to having the same value. It is irrelevant the time needed to make the choice to abort, however hard the decision may be. If pregnancy lasted only 20 weeks (potentially not enough time to make the decision) then would it be right to kill the newborn? I expect you would agree that this would be immoral. Therefore, the line cannot be drawn on how long it takes to make this extremely hard decision. I could argue that 20 weeks is enough time to make a decision but I believe this is unnecessary unless you can prove otherwise.
It seems that the best place to draw the line is when the fetus goes from not having the same value as an adult human to having it. Why is it immoral to kill the adult human and not the newly conceived fetus? I believe it is wrong to kill an adult human because they are a being with interests. They can feel pleasure and pain. They have it in their interests to avoid pain and maximise pleasure. We don't kill another adult human because we know killing him will effect his interests. We appreciate that killing him will mean he will be deprived of all future pleasure, whilst also causing him pain. Fetuses (at a certain level of development) can feel pain however. I believe this capability means that they have equal value to an adult human.
One pro-abortion report from a strongly left wing newspaper reported on a scientific experiment into fetal pain and held that fetuses feel no pain before 24 weeks. This automatically suggests that 28 weeks is the wrong place to draw the limit (the limit in some countries). Now this is one of several experiments and some conclude that fetal pain can start as early as 20 weeks. Obviously this depends on the development of the baby, so its right to go with the lowest common denominator so as not to risk killing any human life of value. With this significant scientific disagreement I believe that until more substantial proof supports the 24 week limit we should (to be safe) make the limit at 20 weeks. Imagine if, in the future, the proof supports the view that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. Would it not be equivalent to a genocide to have killed all those lives which are as valuable as any adult human? Surely, to be safe we should go with the marginally smaller limit of 20 weeks. At least until we have proof beyond reasonable doubt that fetuses feel pain, we should set the abortion limit at 20 weeks. Just as it is wrong to have capital punishment whilst there is not conclusive evidence that it acts as a deterrent. Furthermore, even if we never had this proof then I believe it would not be catastrophic to keep the 20 week limit.
Now, as to where we draw the line. We do agree on the fact that a newborn baby has the same value as an adult. But where you say that the line should be drawn when the fetus attains the same amount of value as a fully developed being, I'd like to raise the argument that a newly conceived fetus has the same amount of value as an adult human being, (thus disagreeing with your first sentence). I don't agree that a fetus has to pass some sort of milestone marker in order to gain value in this world, because that would mean the fetus' value depends on its ability to feel, which isn't at all a very scientific, or ethical way to determine value. But with all of this, we'd be getting into what we define as value, and the total list of what value entails, but we'll stay on track. In my stance, I don't believe abortion is the answer. But we can talk about the whys later.
So what I've gleaned from your stance, is that you think abortions should be legal as long as the fetus isn't caused pain? I appreciate your view of not wanting to hurt another life form, but the fact that the fetus can't feel pain doesn't make for a strong argument. That's exactly like saying "as long as you aren't aware of pain or negative consequences, it doesn't effect you." It's another life that is being taken, and though it hasn't had a chance to see the world yet, it still is living though they are dependent on someone else. If you hinge the ability to determine the legal abortion limit based on pain, the same rules could apply for people killing fully newborns, even children, because they aren't fully developed, and as long as they don't feel pain when they are killed, it will be alright.
And I have yet to find a reasonable excuse for an abortion. In this case, many people bring up the issue of rape, incest, or carrying out the procedure for the sake of the mother's life. Reality is, that less than 1% of all abortions are enacted because of these reasons, the 99%+ is simply for the sake of convenience, or desire. And in these cases, I cannot in any way find any justifiable cause to end the developing life of a child.
It sounds like value and what that includes determines the weight on the scales of a mother's desires, vs. the life of the fetus for you.
"I don't agree that a fetus has to pass some sort of milestone marker in order to gain value in this world"
If something has value there has to be a reason for being valued. My hat is of value because (Add reason here- makes me look good/ useful). When would you value something without having any reason too AND would you be right to value it? This reason for value necessarily puts a milestone marker on when this value starts. If you agree with me that feeling is the morally relevant factor for value then 20 weeks should be the abortion limit. Another morally relevant factor may result in setting the abortion limit at conception or birth or anywhere in between. But there has to be a milestone marker somewhere and why is conception any different than any other time of pregnancy?
""because that would mean the fetus' value depends on its ability to feel, which isn't at all a very scientific, or ethical way to determine value."
It is scientific and moral. We can test scientifically our pleasure and pain and it is moral as the only reason for an act being immoral is if it causes pain. Stealing is not wrong unless it causes others pain.
"That's exactly like saying "as long as you aren't aware of pain or negative consequences, it doesn't effect you.""
An adult human life unaware of the pain or negative consequences would have value where the unfeeling fetus does not as the adult human, though not being aware, does have the capacity to feel pain. The unfeeling fetus does not. Without pain we are valueless in ourselves- what would be the difference between a being that has no feelings to an inanimate stone?
"It's another life that is being taken, and though it hasn't had a chance to see the world yet, it still is living though they are dependent on someone else."
I agree dependence on an "other" is not justification for the "other" killing the dependent. However, you say its life being taken. But you do not justify why the life is valuable. We take animal life and the only difference between animal and human must be down to some morally relevant factor. Can you give me this morally relevant factor AND explain why animals are not included and fetuses are?
"If you hinge the ability to determine the legal abortion limit based on pain, the same rules could apply for people killing fully newborns, even children, because they aren't fully developed, and as long as they don't feel pain when they are killed, it will be alright."
Yes, all valuable creatures feel pain. Name an example of a person who is valuable but does not feel pain. When does a newborn or a child not feel any degree of pain or pleasure and still lives? Both pain and pleasure are essential to survival. Without hunger (pain) there is no reason to go and find food to eat.
"And I have yet to find a reasonable excuse for an abortion. In this case, many people bring up the issue of rape, incest, or carrying out the procedure for the sake of the mother's life. Reality is, that less than 1% of all abortions are enacted because of these reasons, the 99%+ is simply for the sake of convenience, or desire."
Circumstances do not matter to me. The fetus is either valuable or not and I think abortion becomes wrong when the fetus becomes valuable.
"It sounds like value and what that includes determines the weight on the scales of a mother's desires, vs. the life of the fetus for you."
What else can? Morality only exists because there is a preferable/ valuable outcome of acting a certain way. It is not the value in itself that I care about, but the reason for the value.
Fetuses feel no pain before 24 weeks according to this study . Different studies range as low as 20 weeks to higher. I think 20 weeks is right just in case we get it wrong and fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks. Every study I've seen suggests 20-more weeks is when the fetus starts feeling.
I look forward to your responses.
If you were to value something material in this world, it would be because you think it enhances your life, or because it is an asset. A candy wrapper has no innate value once its purpose is served, and will not be missed once it is disposed of. But human life is something that cannot be and should not be measured on theories based on our own best guess of when a baby has value. A baby is alive, and will eventually be able of making its own choices. But because it's still in development, and it inconveniences the mom, you'll deprive the living being of its unalienable rights, and put them in the hands of another? Tell me, why does a newborn baby have the same value as an adult in your eyes? The baby certainly has nothing to offer the world, and is actually not deemed useful to the world. The only one that can give value to the baby, is the mother, there is no magical moral or scientific way to determine value, because if the mom does not see the developing human as valuable, then it will be killed regardless of what it can feel. The same argument goes for newborns, the baby is still completely dependent on the mother, and if the mother decides that the baby isn't valuable or an asset to her, she could kill it. She has the ability to, but the funny thing about humans and where they draw the line, is that as long as you can't see it die or hear it scream, it's almost like it never happens. But God forbid she kills the baby when it's actually born, because it magically has value of some sort now that it's born.
If you believe that pain and the awareness of that pain is required in order to hand value to a being, we might as well all be vegans, no, even more so than that, not eat at all. Because who are we to say that animals, and even plants, who feel on some sort of level, should not be killed for our consumption? They have emotions, and they feel pain as well. And if you define value based on an organisms ability to feel pain, we would all be dead.
"It is scientific and moral. We can test scientifically our pleasure and pain and it is moral as the only reason for an act being immoral is if it causes pain. Stealing is not wrong unless it causes others pain."
So referring to one of my points in the last round, if you killed a full grown adult in their sleep, but it doesn't cause the victim pain, or any sorrow to anyone who might have been close to them, it is moral? Because that would completely go against what you said before when you stated that you thought it would be wrong to kill an adult human because they are "beings with interests." With pain being so subjective, and so shallow, it cannot bear the tension of functioning as the fulcrum of leverage for value and worth. If our ability to feel defines who we are, does that mean a person without nerve endings is worthless? I doubt you'd agree with that statement, so if the same can't apply for adult human beings who don't have the ability to feel pain, how could it apply for a developing human being who can't feel pain either?
"Morality only exists because there is a preferable/ valuable outcome of acting a certain way. It is not the value in itself that I care about, but the reason for the value."
What if the reason for the value is for a human being to experience life? Life can be cruel, and usually is. I know. But if you use that as an excuse to end a child's life before it begins, you've already voided them the chance to have "interests", as you've said before. The reason for the value is plain and simple, but the desire to change morality comes from a place of selfish desire vs human life, which really isn't a new argument at all. This philosophy is carried out in war and politics all the time, and people cry injustice over those topics. But with abortion, you top it with the guise of caring about the mother's life and wanting to end the child's life in the most humane way as possible (does that not sound sick to you?), and suddenly selfish interests are pit against something that wasn't ever supposed to be in question: Human life.
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