The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

no punishment before fetal pain, moderate punishment then till viability, murder after viability

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/6/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 454 times Debate No: 60093
Debate Rounds (3)
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Votes (1)




aside from rape and mother's health, and perhaps fetal defect, abortion should be illegal before a fetus begins feeling pain, but not investigated nor punished before that point.

conservative estimates put fetal pain at about eighteen weeks. we should give benefit of the doubt to fetal pain. if we have to use pain killers to cause an abortion, that should tell us the immirality of what we are doing. this is also symbolic, because it is half way through the pregnancy. the first half the mother gets dibs on, the last half is society's concern.

i would say past fetal pain point, only mothers life and fetal defect should be permissible. the woman and doctor should be punished by nine months in jail and nine months community service for none exceptions.

at viability mothers life and fetal defect are the only two things that allow an abortion. otherwise, first degree murder charge should apply for mother and doctor.

EARLY ON to LATER in pregnancy
given there are no legal consequences involved early in pregnancy, these are more about arguments on principle.

abortion should be often illegal, because we should recognize that we should be giving the benefit of the doubt to human life. it is clear enough that we should outlaw it, but not clear enough that we should be punishing them. for example, to establish the uncertainty, note that a snowball is not a snow man, and a lego is not lego man. same could be argued for the cell in early pregnancy. at what point does a lego or snowball become the corresponding man? it's unclear there, as it could be said to be with personhood. but, on the other hand, the earliest cell does meet the requirements for what would constitute an 'organism', albeit it could probably be viewed as more like a parasitic organism given it must live off of the mother. and it's not like every other cell, given not every other cell can grow into a person. indeed, if we saw a snowball or lego growing into the corresponding person, we wouldn't and shouldnt treat it the same as a regular snowball, lego. the pro and con about human life here are enough to say in principle we should defer to human life, but not clear enough to make any meaningful punishments for it.
human life is such a strong factor to be weighed, that it is not unreasonable for a person to be against abortion, and want to punish so as to deter and for justice's sake. but, i would not go that far. i would take that same reasoning, though, and argue that it's such a strong consideration, that it should at least be illegal, albeit with no legal consequences.

and the last reason it should be illegal in principal, is because the mother assumed the risk of pregnancy. having sex is something that can result in pregnancy. it's not like it just happened, getting pregnant, out of no where. also, while this doesn't apply at first, as the pregnancy continues, the mother assumes the fact that the pregnancy continues to exist, and she is not aborting when it is morally grayer. also, if you were to look at it in terms of analogies, there are seveeral at the end of this post that it could be compared to.

another reason why we shouldn't punish is deferment. while we are deferring to human life, we are respecting the autonomy of the woman involved. given there is uncertainty, who should decide? should the government decide? why not give the autonomy to decide to the person most affected by it, the mother?
plus,there are uncertainties involved, but there are other considerations as well. while the mother assumed the risk of pregnancy, she may have tried her best not to get pregnant, and got pregnant anyways. things happen, plus she has a lot of other things to consider like making sure she can hold down a job, or continue in school. or maybe she's poor and doesn't want to bring another kid into the mix. the common arguments in favor of abortion should be used here, as holistic approach to why she should be able to decide given the various moral considerations involved. but again, this stuff is just sufficient so as to not make legal consequences for the abortion, but not enough to make it legal.


the responsibilties in getting pregnant are like causing an accident, and rupturing someone's kidneys and causing them to lose blood. couldn't it be said that the wrong doer should be forced to give that person blood, and maybe even a kidney, at least as long as the wrong doer would not die? many insist on absolute bodily autonomy, even in an accident situation, and so would reject that. but i would argue the moral obligation is there.

another analogy. someone causes an accident in while planes are in mid air. the planes crash on the island of the person who caused the crash. the person who caused the crash should not be able to evict the victim, by tossing them to sea, or killing them.
you could replace planes and islands, with cars and the wrong doers home.

it is also like. and this is bizarre but it is not much more bizarre that that 'well respected' (really a joke of a publication) violinist debate. you cause a car accident. the victim is caused to be attached to you kidneys. they are sustained by your kidneys and need them for awihle to live. hardly no one would say the person who caused the accident should be able to kill the victim.

and what makes birth the magic point that changes the parents responsibitlies? a person could argue... the child was a burglar in my house. i let the burglar stay until he was ready to leave. then i let him leave. why am i obligated to take care of them... they were burglars to begin with and i was going a nice thing for them letting them stay.
society might have laws that frown on this thinking, but if you take the burglar analogy to its consequence, it was still a burglar at birth too. you just happened to let him live awhile instead of legally killing him. why should mother's liberty continue to be hindered due to someone who came as a burglar to begin with?
this shouldn't be allowed, i'm just taking the 'burglar' analogy to its consequence.


Abortion should not be illegal assuming it is preformed before viability regardless of the circumstances. It is a person's constitutional right to be able to choose whether or not they wish to carry and bare a child, before the point of viability without the threat of facing punishment.
Given that there is currently no substantial evidence supporting the argument of fetal pain before the point of viability (Roe V Wade) , punishment would be premature and inappropriate. Of the existing evidence it is widely believed the earliest approximation at which a human fetus has the functional capacity to experience pain isn't until the 29th week of pregnancy. Although given that there is currently no clear consensus on the precise time that a fetus begins feeling pain or if it even does before the current cutoff for when an abortion can be preformed. Rather than giving the "benefit of the doubt to fetal pain" we should give benefit of the doubt to the person having to face probably one of the most difficult decisions in there live's, the woman. It is all to easy to blame the woman for becoming pregnant and argue that she assumed the risk by engaging in activities that lead to pregnancy. I would like to note that just because it is easy to make such blames doesn't make it any less wrong. The fact is that sex is not solely the act of women, it does take two to tango. It can not be the female's sole responsibility to prevent impregnation.
Although it may not be completely unreasonable for someone to be opposed to the idea of abortion when you think of the value of human life. However it is unreasonable to not put that same value towards the life of the woman that would be forced to carry a child. It is even more unreasonable to want to punish someone for causing fetal pain when there has yet to be any concrete evidence that supports it. Plain and simple. It is completely immoral to limit a person's constitutional right based off of fetal pain when there is no evidence that proves that it even exists prior to the point of viability. Finally, given that states already have set punishments for abortions that are preformed after viability there is no need to make it the governments responsibility to make the act have a minimum charge of first degree murder when in most cases it is much more complex and is not that black and white.
Debate Round No. 1


con argues constitutional rights, but clearly this debate is about how things 'ought' to be, so constitution means little.

this is info that fetus can feel pain at twenty weeks

this article puts pain at as early as sixteen weeks

this says much earlier even still
"she believes that the fetal neural structures needed to detect noxious stimuli are in place by 8 to 10 weeks of development. She further asserts: "There is universal agreement that pain is detected by the fetus in the first trimester. The debate concerns how pain is experienced, i.e., whether a fetus has the same pain experience as a newborn or an adult would have." As evidence that it is possible to feel pain without a cortex Condic cites the fact that children born without a cortex and animals whose cortices have been removed will withdraw from pinches, burns, and so forth. As further evidence for fetal pain, Condic cites studies showing that various medical treatments applied to fetuses in the womb boost their stress hormone levels."

perhaps one might contest when pain is felt, saying that reacting to pain is different than being aware of it? perhaps, but there is clearly a pain reaction an that's all that matters when we are trying to be humane and give the benefit of the doubt to human life.

there is a ton of evidence supporting when fetal pain begins. and it defies common sense to think pain doesn't exist until viability. a complete baby exists that can survive on its own but it doesn't feel pain?

i think that con is even debating this issue shows that it's relevant. con could have just said 'it's irrelevant when the fetus feels pain'/

"The fact is that sex is not solely the act of women, it does take two to tango. It can not be the female's sole responsibility to prevent impregnation."

con makes some points but doesn't really say how they play in in this debate. yes there are two responsible people. what's your point?

i could live with there being state by state punishment after viability, i'm not dead set on it being murder.


My opponent argues that "clearly this debate is about how things 'ought' to be, so [constitutional rights] mean little." I would argue that is exactly what this argument boils down to, whether or not we are going to be a society that gives all its people the same rights or are we going to pick and choose when and to whom rights are given .When you asked to know "what's [my] point?" when I stated that it cannot be the woman's sole responsibility to prevent impregnation. There you go....
My opponent makes the false claim that "there is a ton of evidence supporting when fetal pain begins." But what my opponent seems to overlook is that even with the sources they provided as 'evidence', there was no single consist on when fetal pain actually begins. Of the three sources you sited the time of fetal pain was placed "at twenty weeks", "as early as sixteen weeks", and the final source placed it "much earlier even still." Given that the evidence you are providing cant come to an agreement on when fetal pain exist, why then does "it [defy] common sense " to base a opinion on the best available scientific evidence currently available, which states that a human fetus simply doesn't have the functional capacity to feel pain until after viability? Just because you personally think something makes sense does not make it true. On that point I would like to address your statement questioning my reasoning when you said, "a complete baby exists that can survive on its own but it doesn't feel pain?" Let me be clear, I said that the evidence supports the notion that pain is not experienced before viability. I never said that after viability a baby couldn't experience pain. (
Also, I never argued that "it's irrelevant when the fetus feels pain," and it would be naive to infer any relevance based off a misinterpretation of my point.
But back to my point the fact is that one cannot simply choose what information is valid and ignore the parts you don"t like. Even in the article you provided Condic acknowledged that the "long-range connections within the cortex that some believe to be required for consciousness do not arise until much later, around 22-24 weeks." (
If we look to that article that my opponent provided we will find even more evidence supporting the theory that fetal pain does not occur before viability. For example A report by the RCOG, Fetal Awareness: A Review of Research and Recommendations for Practice. In the 2010 report it stated that "In reviewing the neuroanatomical and physiological evidence in the fetus," it found, "it was apparent that connections from the periphery [of the fetal body] to the cortex are not intact before 24 weeks of gestation and, as most neuroscientists believe that the cortex is necessary for pain perception, it can be concluded that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior to this gestation."" "In other words, while fetuses can react to pain, at the 24-week stage of brain development there is no subject present that is capable of experiencing pain."
Another example my opponent seemed to over look when researching is the 2005 JAMA review that came to a similar conclusion. It stated that "Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester. Little or no evidence addresses the effectiveness of direct fetal anesthetic or analgesic techniques.""
And if 2005 seems that it might be a little dated the article made sure to point out a 2013 statement by The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists citing the JAMA review's conclusion and added, "Although ultrasound monitoring can show intrauterine fetal movement, no studies since 2005 demonstrate fetal recognition of pain."
The idea that fetal pain occurs early on in pregnancy is still just that, an idea. Made even more apparent by unsure and speculative nature of the title of the article my opponent provide "What if Fetus do feel Pain?" Abortion has been a social issue for years and people have a fundamental disagreement on the morality of it but we can not let how we feel about abortion as a whole be a factor when we are presented with information. We can not just pick and choose which side we want to believe regardless of the evidence, simply because it supports how we feel about abortion as a whole. We 'ought' to be better than that.
Debate Round No. 2


at best con says it's uncertain when fetal pain develops. and must resort to con's point of deferring to giving choice to the mother. but why not defer to the issue of pain? con acts as if it's established that pain doesn't occur until or after viablity... but all my info casts real significant doubt on that. plus it's common sense that a baby doesn't just have no pain and be unable to live on its on, then suddently in one moment has pain and can live on its own. that is ridicularous.. con should at least admit that he's okay with causing pain in babies before viability or at least using pain killers.... he's willing to overlook the fact that it could be said to be inhumane to begin with if you have to use pain killers to kill a baby humanely.

con gives a lot of evidence for hwen pain might be felt. but that's just evidence contrary to mine. and it overlooks, as i quoted, that it's not so much about whether the fetus feels pan, it's about how that pain is perceived etc. if there's no conciousness there can still be pain, just like ameobas and lower lifeforms feel pain but are not conscious.

con seems to be tacitly admitting that when the fetus feels pain does change things given how much con doesn't just say 'it's irrelevant when it feels pain'. con just seems to be in lala land where that point magically coincides with viability or after.

given con is clearly the one engaging in magic and smoke and mirrors making it seem like there is no pain and all prior to viability and then suddently there is.... what con said is actually more applicable to con...

"We can not just pick and choose which side we want to believe regardless of the evidence, simply because it supports how we feel about abortion as a whole. We 'ought' to be better than that."


It seems that my opponent is under the impression that I am a cold, callous monster when it comes to this issue. Well, let me disabuse you of that illusion right now. I am not cynical. I am not unsympathetic, I am a caring, compassionate person just like I believe deep down you are. If you choose to dehumanize people just because they disagree with your opinion that is your choice but it does not make it true and to quote Napoleon Bonaparte, "Truth alone wounds."

Although my opponent thinks it is ridiculous that experts on the matter clearly explain why it make sense that a fetus doesn't experience pain until the point of viability. Let me assure you that, that is not the case. The simple fact is that the reason abortions cannot be preformed after viability is because that is the point at which a fetus begins forming the connections within the cortex that are necessary for consciousness. And despite what my opponent argues, even The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage". The definition further states that "pain is always subjective. Each individual learns the application of the word through experiences related to injury in early life." This means that in order to feel pain one must be conscious. The RCOG report also found that even after 24 weeks of development, fetuses abide "in a continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation. To another point, the only reason I didn't dignify the statement about the use of pain killers with a response is because if my opponent had done any research or even fully reviewed some of the articles she sourced she would have known that the only reason sedatives are used in an abortion is if it is necessary to immobilize the fetus. Even though my opponent seems to think that her common sense is smarter than every doctor and scientist on this issue, I would encourage you to simply read some of the many articles written by experts on this issue. I am sure they can better explain it to you than I can in the time I have. You can even find the same information in the article my opponent uses, so be my guest.

In summary, the fact is I am not picking and choosing which evidence to believe I am only choosing to believe the only evidence that has currently been provided. Simply put, there has been no new evidence that my opponent's side has ever provided. They use the same information gathered form the very institutes they are now fighting. They then make speculations about what that information means. The only thing my opponent has shown is hypotheses. By that I mean questions that can be tested and researched in any number of ways to prove there validity. Then if one is able to confirm that it's true then one can convert that into a theory. But if you decide to just skip the middle step completely and simply assume that you have a true statement of fact (a theory), then you have proved nothing. You simply cannot take a hypothesis and act as if it is true just because it make since to you, when in reality your just speculating. Then are surprised when the hypothesis that you have made up in your mind makes sense to you . As if a theoretical light bulb just went off, followed by a inner monologue of "aww that makes sense to me, so it must be true!"

You can try and make it seem like your argument has evidence to support it but it doesn't. Plain and Simple. Even though I know this might piss people off I still think it is worth saying, this is not a debate about punishing people who have an abortion that would cause fetal pain. Because the fact is fetal pain has yet to be proven. What this really comes down too is how you feel about abortion. Because it is an issue that has been debated for years, people have fundamentally different opinions towards it and people have come up with countless 'hypotheses' arguing for, but more often than not, against abortion and spout them off as fact when they are anything but. The truth is we cannot simply choose to 'defer' to the issue of pain when the issue of pain is still just speculation. We mustn't and 'ought' not become a society that allows personal opinions about a particular issue cause the rights of others to be denied and different opinions to be oppressed.
Thank you for your time!
Debate Round No. 3
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1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Long rather walls-o-textiness from both sides. But I found Con's point on fetal pain's speculative nature to be sufficient to rebut at least enough of Pro's case to warrant the argument points. As always, happy to clarify this RFD.