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The pro-life position is not actually pro-LIFE

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/28/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,317 times Debate No: 15003
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
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For clarification, the pro-life position is defined.
Advocating the legal protection of human embyos and fetuses, especially by favoring the outlawing of abortion on the ground that it is the taking of a human life.
Read more:

The pro-life agenda suggests that the way to save lives (at least the lives of the fetus) is to out-law abortion.

I disagree. To outlaw abortion would not only NOT decrease the numbers of abortions, it would put the mothers at risk AS WELL because women would be procuring illegal and largely unsafe abortions, resulting in the deaths of all of the fetuses AND some mothers as well.


There is an abortion ban in Nicaragua where doctors are put in a dilemma.
"Accurate statistics of the impact of the ban in terms of avoidable deaths are hard to come by. One doctor said that of 95 women who died last year as a result of medical complications with their pregnancies, 13 could have been saved if they had been able to have therapeutic abortions. "

"It is indeed clear that, despite the ban, there are still some abortions taking place. A 22-year-old woman told us what happened when she recently wanted an abortion."

"Amnesty argues in its report that the effects of the new law are most marked among women and girls living in poverty." And the report that the article is based off of done by Amnesty:

In the article entitled: "Bans 'do not cut abortion rate'" is says:
"Most safe abortions are carried out using vacuum aspiration
Restricting the availability of legal abortion does not appear to reduce the number of women trying to end unwanted pregnancies, a major report suggests.
The costs of unsafe abortions, which can include inserting pouches containing arsenic to back street surgery, can be high: the healthcare bill to deal with conditions from sepsis to organ failure can be four times what it costs to provide family planning services.
In the developed world, legal restrictions did not stop abortion but just meant it was "exported", with Irish women for instance simply travelling to other parts of Europe, according to Guttmacher's director, Dr Sharon Camp. In the developing world, it meant lives were put at risk.
"Too many women are maimed or killed each year because they lack legal abortion access," she said."

And another article:

"Dr Shah said rates of abortion did not differ according to whether access was good or highly restricted by law, and reducing the number of unsafe abortions was "imperative". In Bangladesh, a massive decrease in maternal deaths has occurred because women now have access to safe abortion services and emergency obstetric care, another study by Dr Carine Ronsmans from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine showed. "


After the recent vote by the Argentine Congress to legalise same-sex marriage, the legalisation of abortion does indeed seem set to be the next big debate in the country.
Calls in favour of legalisation have been fuelled in part by international criticism of the country's high maternal mortality rates.
A recent study by the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, found that over the past 15 years complications from abortion were the main cause of maternal deaths in Argentina.
For every 100,000 live births there are 44 deaths - more than twice as high as in neighbouring Chile and Uruguay.
Abortion is permitted only in cases of rape, if the mother's life is at risk or if the woman is deemed "of feeble mind".
There are an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 illegal abortions each year.

And Another:

"Unsafe abortions in the developing world kill 68,000 women a year, research suggests.
They also lead to at least five million other people going to hospital for infection and other complications, the Lancet study estimates.
A team from New York's Guttmacher Institute made their estimate after analysing data from 13 countries.
They suggested around 19 million unsafe abortions take place around the world each year.
Lead researcher Dr Susheela Singh said: "The evidence shows that the health burden of unsafe abortion is large.
"The most effective way of eliminating this highly preventable cause of maternal illness and death, would be to make safe and legal abortion services available and accessible.
"A second, more immediately achievable, goal is to prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place through improved contraception use." "

I could find MANY more. The burden of evidence is in my favor, you just have to look at the world reports of abortion stats. I personally use BBC because it is not biased towards American politics/policies like any American news station would be on this issue. It is generally considered to actually be a simple reporting of the facts, unlike our news stations here as well, but that is another issue.

In conclusion:

Women who are poor, single, or otherwise disadvantaged are not going to stop getting abortions whether or not they are legal. Pregnancy is clearly a traumatizing enough experience that women are desperate enough to risk their lives to terminate a pregnancy. Given this information, a policy to outlaw abortion would only make their plight more desperate and put their lives at risk resulting in a decrease in proper medical care and an increase in fetus and mother death overall.

I suggest that pro-lifers actually live up to their name of promoting life by easing the burden of our most desperate mothers before ever trying to institute a law that would not give "pro-lifers" the results they so desire anyway.

If pro-lifers REALLY want to promote life, they should all be advocates for family planning, free contraception, and programs that support especially poor women (especially minority) and women in general. THIS is the only real way to reduce abortions. They could be putting their money towards the cause rather than forcing women to abort illegally and unsafely.

My opponent would have to somehow prove that outlawing abortion would decrease the number of abortions with actual PROOF. Also, they would have to explain how the stance of the pro-life movement somehow enhances the life of all parties involved as opposed to other methods I suggest.

Pro-life is NOT promoting the overall life and well-being of both the fetuses and mothers in question by their stance that abortion must be outlawed. To suggest that outlawing abortion would preserve lies overal is a ludicrous idea that is not supported by credible evidence. Pro-lifers who believe that outlawing abortion will work are too blinded by their so called "morality" that they have forgotten the realities of this world and have forgotten to have any compassion on the mothers involved in abortion.


I thank my opponent for starting this debate and would first like to point out to all the readers and voters that this debate is not the morality of abortion nor a woman's rights, but whether or not being anti-abortion is consistant with be pro-LIFE.

My opponent defined "pro-life" as "Advocating the legal protection of human embyos and fetuses, especially by favoring the outlawing of abortion on the ground that it is the taking of a human life."

I wish, however to call that "anti-abortion" just for this debate and refer to "pro-life" as "Advocating for actions, including but not limited to the changing of laws, which promote protecting human life."

That way, the resolution would be "the anti-abortion position is not actually pro-life." Otherwise, we just point out that it is a tautology.

My opponent claims that outlawing abortions would not decrease the number of abortions, and only push them into dangerous situations to obtain those abortions.

While it is true that many people would look for danerous means of having an abortion, it is not true to assume that everyone that would get an abortion would be willing to subject themselves to that danger. In fact, the statistics show otherwise. Abortion became legal in the US in 1973 (Roe v Wade). In the first year that we have actual numbers (as oppossed to just estimates) the abortion rate was 16.3 per 1,000 women, and it rose 80% over the next 7 years, and to this day is still higher then that first year (although it has been slowly dropping and leveling off at around 20 per 1,000) [1].

The Johnstons Archive takes polling data to esitmate abortions prior to 1973 (1970 being really the only accurate years, as abortion before then was mostly unknown of and so not alot of polling was done about it). It finds that in 1970, the abortion rate was likely only 5 per 1,000, less then 1/3 of what it would be three years later when legalized. And estimates of before then, in the late 50's, put abortions (which would all be the back street dangerous kind) at less then 1 per 50,000. [2]

We can see from nearly every study in the US, that the legalization of abortions caused the rate to increase, and so re-illegalizing it, will cause the rate to decrease again. [3]

It also makes sense that there would be less abortions, as the more consequences there are to something, the less people will do it (even though it remains more dangerous for those that still do it). Basic principles of Pros and Cons in decision making.

Debate Round No. 1


"That way, the resolution would be "the anti-abortion position is not actually pro-life." Otherwise, we just point out that it is a tautology."

Fair enough.

"While it is true that many people would look for danerous means of having an abortion, it is not true to assume that everyone that would get an abortion would be willing to subject themselves to that danger."

I did not assume that everyone would be willing to subject themselves to that danger, the evidence of abortion in other countries shows that abortion rates do not drastically change regardless of the law. It's one of those issues that the people will continue to do, despite the law (kind of like how prohibition turned out).

" In fact, the statistics show otherwise. Abortion became legal in the US in 1973 (Roe v Wade). In the first year that we have actual numbers (as oppossed to just estimates) the abortion rate was 16.3 per 1,000 women, and it rose 80% over the next 7 years, and to this day is still higher then that first year (although it has been slowly dropping and leveling off at around 20 per 1,000) [1]."

Clearly, the number of abortions fluctuates, therefore we can not attribute the increase of abortion specifically to the law itself or the number of abortions would rise and then plateau. This means that other factors are involved that determine whether women abort or not, and not just the laws. For instance, the initial increase could be attributed to increased public acceptance of abortion, therefore the social stigma that would've prevented women from aborting no longer was operative. The decrease could be attributed to an increase in the access of contraception/education about sex.

"We can see from nearly every study in the US, that the legalization of abortions caused the rate to increase, and so re-illegalizing it, will cause the rate to decrease again"

You are making assumptions. First, there is no statement that indicates that the increase was due to the legalization of abortion. Other factors are involved, and may in fact be much more influential than the law itself. If the first is an assumption that may or may not be true, then the second must be mere assumption as well, which is shaky. Your links do not explain WHY there was an increase, you are making a guess.

You have yet to provide evidence that the legalization of abortion was the driving factor behind the increase and not another factor, and you have not addressed the issue that the decrease was clearly NOT attributable to the actual law, but due to other factors.

Let's take a look why women choose to abort. This study says this:

"Most women in every age, parity,
relationship, racial, income and education category cited
concern for or responsibility to other individuals as a factor
in their decision to have an abortion. In contrast to the
perception (voiced by politicians and laypeople across the
ideological spectrum) that women who choose abortion
for reasons other than rape, incest and life endangerment
do so for "convenience,"13 our data suggest that after carefully
assessing their individual situations, women base their
decisions largely on their ability to maintain economic stability
and to care for the children they already have."

If women are not aborting out of "convenience" then they are going to continue to have abortions, even when it is inconvenient. Women's reasons for aborting have little to do with the law, and everything to do with personal reasons. Outlawing abortion would simply make it more difficult for women to do what they felt best (if they decide they need to abort). If women truly feel that abortion is best for all parties involved (and clearly many, if not all do) then they will do what they have to get an abortion, legally or no.

To continue with the study:

"The concept of responsibility
is inseparable from the theme of limited resources;
given their present circumstances, respondents
considered their decision to have an abortion the most responsible
action. The fact that many women cited financial
limitations as a reason for ending a pregnancy suggests
that further restrictions on public assistance to families
could contribute to a continued increase in abortions among
the most disadvantaged women."

If women are aborting for financial reasons, then they will also continue to abort even if it is illegal, simply because even an illegal abortion is must less costly than a born child. Another reason why illegalizing abortions would not decrease abortion.

I have not yet seen an actual study that shows evidence for the idea that illegalizing abortion would result in less abortion. Instead there are credible studies that show that increased free contraception, etc, actually WOULD decrease abortion.

"Although the focus of this study was women's reasons for
having abortions, our findings have broader implications regarding
the burden of unwanted pregnancy and the need for
increased access to and use of contraceptive services. Better
access to emergency contraception, for example, could lead
to a reduction in unintended pregnancy, a decrease in the
national abortion rate and, on the individual level, a decline
in the number of women confronted with the difficult decision
of how to resolve an unwanted pregnancy. The fact that
an increasing proportion of women having abortions are
poor16 underscores the importance of public assistance for
family planning programs as an effective means of reducing
the incidence of both unintended pregnancy and abortion."

I used this study quite a bit because it is a study with legitimate sources and format that make it more credible than an article.

Lastly, WHO studies says that oulawing abortion does not decrease rates of abortion:
"comprehensive global study of abortion has concluded that abortion rates are similar in countries where it is legal and those where it is not, suggesting that outlawing the procedure does little to deter women seeking it."

My other sources that I show also suggest much the same thing. I have studies to support my claims, Con has yet to provide any.

In conclusion:

Con makes the assumption that the increase in abortion was due solely to making abortion illegal (which by no means is actually supported or refuted by the evidence he linked). Therefore, to make the assumption that outlawing abortion would decrease abortion is illogical.

Women's reasons for abortion do not relate to the laws nearly as much as pro-lifers claim. Women abort for a diverse number of reasons that would not change depending on the law, therefore making it illogical again that women would truly be deterred by outlawing abortion. If this logic is not good enough for Con, then I have several studies that indicate clearly that the legality of abortion has little to no effect on the actual number of abortions (even in worldwide studies).

Anti-abortion laws do not decrease the number of fetuses being aborted in the rest of the world, therefore anti-abortion laws would not decrease the number of fetuses aborted in the US. In my first post, I listed several studies that not only showed that abortions are not decreased by outlawing abortion, but actually cause more death because the deaths of mothers inveritably happen much more frequently when obtaining an illegal abortion.

The evidence stands: an anti-abortion position is not pro-LIFE.


My opponent starts by saying that we cannot compare 1973 USA to 1970 USA, or to 1976 USA and so attempts to dismiss the facts. My opponent then goes on to compare to other nations, however they are subject to being even further from accurate.

The truth is that the if we want to see how abortion laws effect abortion rates, the best and most accurate way is to compare two things which the fewest differences (if possible, having abortion laws be the only difference, unfortunately there are no two things which are that similar in the real world). So the voters need to ask themselves, which are closer, two different nations, which have different political climates, different social structures, different religious makeup, different cultural atmospheres, different economic situations, and different abortion laws? Or is USA 1974 closer to USA 1972? The USA, while different laws were passed, the economics, culture, religious, political, and social makeup are relatively similar, much much more so then comparing two entirely different nations.

This means that comparing USA 1972 to USA 1974 is going to be more accurate in finding the effects of any abortion laws on abortion rates. And the numbers still hold that making abortion legal has a MAJOR impact on the abortion rates (causing them to quadruple in only a 5 years).

This clear mathematical difference means that it is impossible for anti-abortion laws to account for more loss of life through pushing women to dangerous routes, even if every single woman who went to a back alley or doctor in a van were to die, it would not out number the number of abortion no longer done (since the rate difference is over 100%).

Please refer to my same sources from R1, as all the numbers are there.

Thank you,
Debate Round No. 2


Jillianl forfeited this round.


I am sorry that my opponent missed their final round as that leaves things a little awkward. So I will just summarize. The best way to find out what effect the legalization of abortion has had, is to compare two societies which are as similar as possible. I will leave it up to the voters if they believe that the same nation from two relatively close years or two different nations altogether are going to be more similar.

I also want to continue to stress that this debate is not about whether abortion is morally correct or a right or not, but merely, whether people that are "anti-abortion" are actually trying to save lives (it was already agreed that the life of the unborn baby/fetus/embryo counts as a life).

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Jillianl 5 years ago
My bad, I meant credible evidence, not "proof", still trying to figure out the most accurate debate terminology here. :P
Posted by Chrysippus 5 years ago
In this case, the call for "proof" is even more misguided; Pro is asking for someone to prove the efficacy of a potential future legislation. The most that could be asked for, fairly, is indications from similar laws in similar cultures which give some idea how our culture would react.
Posted by maninorange 5 years ago
I always cringe whenever I hear someone ask for "proof." Proof is a math term.... in the real world, 99% of the time the best we get is "evidence." The general idea appears to be that proof is just an overwhelming amount of evidence. It makes me uneasy somehow.
Posted by popculturepooka 5 years ago
Change the time to submit rounds from 24 hours to 3 days and I'll accept.
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