The Instigator
sengejuri
Con (against)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
bjartur
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

There are good logical and scientific arguments for why a fetus is not a human person

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
sengejuri
Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 7/24/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 438 times Debate No: 78066
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (2)

 

sengejuri

Con

I am Con. The rules are simple - my opponent (Pro) will attempt to give logical or scientific evidence for why a fetus is not a human person (therefore proving abortion is an ethical procedure). I will attempt to refute such evidence. If Pro submits even a single piece of evidence that I cannot refute, they win. If not, I win.

Pro agrees to begin by presenting their evidence in Round 1, and will only type "End of Debate" in Round 4 to equal out the entries for each side.

== Definitions ==

"Human Person" - Go with whatever definition you want. It's on me to demonstrate why your definition is logically or scientifically inconsistent.

"Good logical/scientific argument" - An argument that stands up to scrutiny and avoids fallacies.

These should be all the definitions we need. Please no semantics.

Good luck!
bjartur

Pro

I would like to graciously accept your debate challenge. I appreciate this opportunity to debate and I'd like to wish you luck as well. I'm sure we'll have a respectful debate and I will do my utmost to remain grounded in logic and fact rather than personal bias or belief. I will use only credible sources accessible to my opponent so as to ensure total objectivity and validity of argument and I trust my opponent will do the same.

As my opponent has laid out in the challenge, Pro must demonstrate at least one 'logical [or] scientific argument for why a fetus is not a 'human person' and presumably not considered a 'human person'; ergo, Pro must have a non-fallacious argument explaining why law should not recognise all fetuses as 'human people', as the law defines personhood in any meaningful sense. I am, as was implied, defining 'human person' in the sense used by the law (namely in the US), as I consider the legal instance to be the least controversial secular definition.

It must be noted that my opponent's overall argument, which is by necessity a refutation of 'there are good logical and scientific arguments for why a fetus is not a human person', is logically speaking at odds with a parenthetical aside my opponent added in the first paragraph of Con's Round 1. Pro does not need to prove that 'abortion is an ethical procedure'; this is a logical trap laid out that presents an impossibly and irrelevantly high Burden of Proof for Pro, as many would contend that the consumption of meat is somewhat unethical, as higher vertebrates can by almost all standards feel pain [1], although very few would argue that it should be considered murder of a 'human person' and thereby illegal. Pro simply needs to have a solitary 'logical [or] scientific argument' for why a fetus is not considered a human person; once more, in the eyes of the law, as the law is the only appropriate arbiter.

I would also like to reiterate for the record that Pro's Burden of Proof requires 'logical or scientific evidence' but not necessarily both; therefore, as long as Pro's argument is well supported by logic, it cannot lose points for sources. However, Con's Burden of Proof requires an appropriately sourced rebuttal of each point made by Pro, which should be noted by the voters in the debat.

I define a 'human person' as a natural person, or a living human being with legal personality; hereupon in the debate, I will use natural person as a substitute for 'human person', as it has a more precise definition. In the United States, natural people have both legal rights and legal responsibilities assigned to them without their consent; except in extreme cases, they are typically able to benefit from these rights and serve these legal responsibilities [2]. Even should natural people be unable to fulfill their responsibilities due to extenuating circumstances, they are still able to meaningfully benefit from the rights granted to natural people under the Constitution, as long as they retain crucial brain function.

Notably, we do not, nor have we ever considered, all organisms of the species Homo sapiens natural people, as they are not uniformly considered living and suitable to be endowed with legal personality. Contrary to popular misconception among those within the so-called 'pro-life' movement, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, the most commonly cited piece of legislature by those seeking to show that fetuses are natural people in the eyes of American law, the UVVA is agreed by both its supporters and opponents to conclusively not endow fetuses with legal personality and thereby to not consider them natural people [3] [4] [5]. To endow fetuses with legal personality, of course, would also challenge the Supreme Court's reading of the Constitution, as Roe v. Wade explicitly establishes that fetuses are not natural people in the eyes of the United States; as is common knowledge, it is not within Congress' purview to overturn a ruling of the Supreme Court should the Supreme Court not do so themselves; to do so would require an Amendment to the Constitution.

To look at the issue of natural personhood and the legality of termination of what can be said to be life from a different perspective, we can simply consider the example presented by the idea of what it is to be 'brain dead'. The National Institute of Health has a relatively uniform definition of what it is to be brain dead; in essence, to be unresponsive to stimuli, incapable of substantial unassisted movement or breathing and to lack overall brain function throughout [6]. When someone should meet these criteria, they are considered legally dead in all 50 states. According again to the National Institute of Health, fetuses do not satisfy any of these criteria in a substantive sense until the 26th week of pregnancy [7], although at birth healthy babies comfortably meet all of these criteria. In other words, whether the fetus is 'viable' is already held to be irrelevant, as viability with assistance does not preclude termination in the case of those who are brain dead, and therefore lose their natural personhood. Furthermore, the argument that any cell or collection of cells should be considered human is simply preposterous, even if viability with assistance is held to be a prerequisite; sperm cells can be kept alive in the laboratory setting for several days and yet none would argue that they are human in any meaningful sense. The reason they are not considered human is not because they lack necessary organs, nor because they lack all copies of the chromosomes necessary, as fertilised eggs are not considered humans. The reason they are not considered human is because they lack the vital brain function necessary to be eligible for natural personhood, a set of criteria we hold even to those with all organs and chromosomes present and functioning.

In other words, the 24 week cutoff currently established nationwide in the United States is established because it corresponds relatively closely to the brain function we use as a prerequisite for natural personhood. Finally, I must bring out the well-used and well-established argument that banning abortion is not an effective method of curtailing abortion, leading to no substantial effect on the number of abortions performed [8] while causing 13% of maternal deaths [9]. Using the slippery slope fallacy, or claiming that we ban other things which are not totally eradicated by the ban but still continue to ban them, such as murder and rape, so we should therefore maintain the ban on abortion, is not only simply fallacious but even more unwarranted in this case, as the ban on murder does not somehow lead to 'unsafe murder', and the ban on rape does not lead to 'unsafe rape'. In these cases, the act can be made no more dangerous by the ban; in the case of abortion, the ban itself is directly responsible of the deaths of women; safe abortion under the supervision of medical professionals has caused somewhere in the vicinity of six deaths since the beginning of record-keeping, all of which can be said to be somewhat due to the error of the manufactuer of the drug used [10]. This counterargument will hopefully, however, be unnecessary, as my opponent committed to avoiding fallacies.

Sources:

[1] http://www.wellcome.ac.uk...
[2] https://www.law.cornell.edu...
[3] http://www.legalaffairs.org...
[4] https://www.aclu.org...
[5] http://www.gpo.gov...
[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
[7] http://www.nlm.nih.gov...;
[8] http://www.nytimes.com...;
[9] http://www.who.int...;
[10] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...;
Debate Round No. 1
sengejuri

Con

Thank to Pro for accepting, and for citing sources.

I appreciate Pro's lengthy preface and clarification of my "parenthetical aside" - no logical trap intended, and I certainly do not expect Pro to prove that abortion is an ethical procedure. It was simply a side comment, and should assign no burden either way.

That being said, I'm surprised that after making such efforts to clarify the prompt, Pro then immediately strays from it. My opponent offers a legal definition of personhood even though the prompt clearly asks for a logical and/or scientific one. To be sure, the law contains aspects of science and logic, but it qualifies as neither. This is because law, at its core, is merely a set of rules agreed upon by a majority of the populace or its representatives, making it a type of Appeal to Popularity fallacy. Even worse, Pro narrows their definition to only American Constitutional Law. We have no reason to accept that American Law can or should be authoritative in this debate - why not Russian Law, or Biblical Law, or Islamic Law? Nevertheless, Pro presents the law as evidence, and it is my job to refute it, so here goes:

My opponent begins by defining a "human/natural person" as someone who has both legal rights and responsibilities. I will admit that a fetus cannot possibly fulfill responsibilities while inside the womb, but Pro excuses this requirement if "natural people [are] unable to fulfill their responsibilities due to extenuating circumstances..." I submit that being in the womb is such a circumstance. I also submit that young children are still excused from this requirement after birth; a 2 week old newborn has no legal responsibilities and could not possibly fulfill them even if she did. Is a newborn baby therefore not a "natural person?" This aspect of Pro's definition does not seem to hold water.

This brings us to the question of legal rights. Pro brings up the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA), which is an excellent example. Pro's own source defines "natural person" simply as "a living human being." [1] So does UVVA define a fetus as a living human being? Yes. Section 1841, subparagraph C says, "If the person engaging in the conduct thereby intentionally kills or attempts to kill the unborn child, that person shall be punished for intentionally killing or attempting to kill a human being." Furthermore, UVVA says, "As used in this section, the term "child in utero" or "child, who is in utero" means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."". [2] So contrary to Pro's claim, we see that UVVA defines a fetus as alive (thereby making it possible to kill) and as a homo sapien, which means it is a living human.

Pro goes on to say that we cannot challenge the Supreme Court's reading of the Constitution or Roe v. Wade. Why? Supreme Court rulings and legal decisions get challenged all the time. For example, Jane Roe (Roe v. Wade plaintiff), whose real name is Norma McCorvey, is now an avid pro-life activist and openly petitions to overturn her own case! [3] Presenting the Supreme Court's opinions as evidence is an Appeal to Authority fallacy that simply claims "this is what some powerful American judges think, so it must be true." This is neither logic nor science.

Onto the issue of being brain dead. Pro attempts to make a connection between being brain dead and losing natural personhood. This is curious, because Pro already defined natural personhood as having both legal rights and responsibilities. A medically "brain dead" person still has legal rights, and they still accrue responsibilities (if you regain consciousness, you will still have to pay your hospital bill), so I fail to see how a brain dead person loses their natural personhood. Pro seems to suggest that a fetus meets the criteria for clinical "brain death" and is therefore not a living person. This is inaccurate. According to Pro's own source, brain death is defined as: "the irreversible loss of all functions of the brain, including the brainstem." [4] A fetus does not have irreversible loss of brain function - on the contrary, brain function and development improves almost daily inside the womb. Furthermore, according to Pro's source, "brain death" cannot be declared without a complete neurological examination, which is impossible to do in utero. Finally, the source goes on to declare "The brains of infants and young children have increased resistance to damage and may recover substantial functions even after exhibiting unresponsiveness on neurological examination." This seems to contradict everything my opponent claimed. At the very least, it introduces a fatal dose of reasonable doubt.

In terms of my opponent's claim that fetuses are unresponsive to stimuli and incapable of unassisted movement until week 26 of pregnancy, I cannot examine their source #7 because the web link appears broken. But it is a scientific fact that fetuses do respond to stimuli and move within the womb much earlier than 26 weeks [5].

As a final note, I agree that claiming sperm cells to be human is preposterous. No one here is claiming a sperm or an egg is human life, so I will not treat this as an argument. Furthermore, I am puzzled by Pro's tangent about why banning abortions will not stop abortions. This is not related to the debate, as it has no connection to proving why a fetus is not a human person. I view these claims as irrelevant and will refrain from responding to them.

That's all for now, looking forward to the next round!

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu...
[2] http://www.gpo.gov...
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
[5] http://www.beginbeforebirth.org...
bjartur

Pro

bjartur forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
sengejuri

Con

Well, that's unfortunate.
bjartur

Pro

bjartur forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
bjartur

Pro

bjartur forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Hawlucha 1 year ago
Hawlucha
A fetus is simply the developing body of a human being. In most cases that body will be completely normal and from birth will be developing a rational sense of logical thinking and self-awareness.

Abortion is basically ripping a hatching seed from the soil, and legalization of abortion will most likely lead to irresponsible sex which leads to unwanted pregnancy, thus desensitizing any remorse from having to take away the opportunity for a would-be person to live.

Abortion should be used in critical medical procedures such as the risk of still-borns and malformed fetuses. Outside of it I deem it an overlooked crime.
Posted by sengejuri 1 year ago
sengejuri
done
Posted by bjartur 1 year ago
bjartur
I'll accept if you change the title to include 'person', as suggested.
Posted by sengejuri 1 year ago
sengejuri
@AndyHood - I will agree to change the title if you wish to accept.
Posted by AndyHood 1 year ago
AndyHood
The debate title is completely off; a foetus is human but it's not a PERSON. Nobody in their right mind will attempt to argue that a foetus is not human, or not alive.
Posted by sengejuri 1 year ago
sengejuri
accept the debate then!
Posted by vi_spex 1 year ago
vi_spex
the good outweighs the bad..
Posted by vi_spex 1 year ago
vi_spex
it dosnt have awarness, so it dosnt matter
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by ZenoCitium 1 year ago
ZenoCitium
sengejuribjartur
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: FF by pro. Con's counter arguements struck down pros arguements. In addition, pro ignores that even Roe v. Wade considers a fetus a natural person at and after viability.
Vote Placed by bballcrook21 1 year ago
bballcrook21
sengejuribjartur
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture.