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RFD for abortion debate
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8/31/2016 11:21:35 PM
Posted: 6 months ago
Debate is here (http://www.debate.org...). Vote is for bsh1's DDOlympics.
As no clear burden of proof is set, I will assume, per the resolution, that burden of proof is split. For Pro to win, he must establish abortion is both legal and moral; for Con to win, he must establish it as illegal and immoral.
R1 - Pro
For his opening argument, Pro concedes off the bat that abortion is killing of an innocent person. He argues this is not necessarily immoral, saying "the right to live does not include the right not to be killed". He says he'll elaborate next round if this is confusing, so I won't judge here.
He argues it is moral to have an abortion if the mother's life is at danger (on the justification that it is better to save one person than have both die), which is a reasonable argument. He also argues a fetus is a "parasite" and compares an abortion to killing a leech.
R1 - Con
To begin his round, Con notes he will argue for the immorality of both rape and non-rape pregnancies. Con gives a basic five-part argument aiming to establish that a fetus has personhood and thus has a right to life, and that right can only be violated when one person is violating another's right to life.
He elaborates on each one, with his first two points relying on the concept of natural rights and that one of those rights is a right to life. For such a fundamental point, it's a bit strange he doesn't establish natural rights and a right to life; this leaves him open for attack from Pro. He goes into more detail about P3 and P4; he notes if his opponent were to contest P3, it essentially renders all acts of self defense as being wrong, and also establishes in P4 that fatalities in pregnancy are extremely rare in the US. Con goes into less detail about P5, but only because Pro seems to accept that a fetus has personhood, and notes that Pro has to find a compelling difference between a fetus and a person to justify a difference in treatment. He argues that all of the variables between fetuses and persons (size, development, environment, and dependency) are not sufficient reasons to justify an abortion.
Con then goes into a rebuttal of Pro, noting that Pro seemingly accepts fetuses as persons with all the rights of other persons. He notes (correctly) his opponent needs to clarify his view on the right to life. He then goes into a rebuttal of the two arguments Pro makes in favor of abortion rights/morality: he agrees with Pro that self-defense is a valid reason to end a life, but argues there aren't really any other circumstances one can do it - and both apply to abortion. He agrees with Pro than a human fetus is akin to a leech, but argues that a fetus "belongs" in the womb whereas a leech does not belong on your skin.
R2 - Pro
Pro again reiterates he agrees a fetus has personhood and a right to life. Pro goes into a lengthy allegory, comparing pregnancy to being forcibly used as a kidney for a violinist with kidney failure. He argues both are morally the same - wrong - and you have the right to reject both. He seems to undermine his own argument by asking if abortion is any different rather than stating it outright.
He then goes into a counter-argument of Con, arguing that Pro might object to his analogy, stating sex is deliberate. This is a good preemptive response - I would have raised it myself. He argues that the woman might have had contraception fail, and thus abortion would be justifiable in that case. I don't think Pro rises to his own question here - he admits a broad concern as valid, and then only deals with a small subset of abortions (due to contraceptive failure). In effect, he has effectively admitted a reasonable concern that undermines his own analogy he made earlier.
He does clarify his statement about not having a right not to die, and it makes sense here - your right to life does not mean you can harm others to survive. This is a good argument. He then makes a confusing argument, though - that " Killing the fetus would just be a side effect of not being pregnant". What does this even mean? He concludes by restating his point that abortion does not violate a right to live, because it doesn doesn't really exist. He also congratulates his opponent on a good argument on P4 - this is a nice touch, very civil to make.
R2 - Con
Off the bat, Con argues that the violinist analogy is not a validation of abortion, but does agree that it would be morally acceptable to refuse to be plugged into the violinist.
Con argues that thought experiments, like the violinist, are good tools, but only work if they relate proportionally to reality; he argues Pro's example is not remotely realistic, and makes logical leaps; he argues, for instance, that it doesn't make sense to compare kidnapping (not consented) to pregnancy (consented), that being connected is like being pregnant, that the violinist is "innocent" like a fetus", and that unplugging is similar to abortion. He argues if even one of these comparisons is a leap, the entire argument falls apart - in particular, he rejects the unplugging in the analogy is equivalent to the abortion. He says the cause of death is not remotely the same; the unplugging causes death due to disease (a passive death), while in abortion the act is caused actively by medicine or dismemberment. He argues a more comparable example would be stabbing the violinist, and then unplugging. I have to agree with Con here - the analogy just doesn't work on that angle.
Con proposes an alternative thought experiment: a woman and a child are kidnapped, and she wakes up in a room with a different child. She is given the choice between caring for the baby for nine months - at which point she will be saved - or murdering the baby in exchange for being saved immediately. He argues this is closer to abortion (in both the victim being of equivalent guilt to the fetus, and the method of death being the same), and that in this experiment, it would be immoral to murder the baby.
Con then goes to rebuttals: he argues Pro's pope argument does not equate to P3 because it is not active infringement on a right to life. Con also contests Pro's use of DDE arguments: he argues that DDE itself is problematic and not consistent, and that even if DDE was valid, the two consequences (death of life and increase of happiness to mother) are not equivalent. He also argues abortion is, in fact, an intended harm. Con also responds to Pro's question about the right to life, arguing it is not absolute; he argues for four exceptions (Defense, detention or preventing escape of a detainee, stopping rebellions, and war), as well as the death penalty. Con doesn't prove a reason why these exceptions should exist, however.
R3 - Pro
Pro argues his analogy does hold up; he notes similarities between dependence on blood and the mother, the nine-month time period, and the kidnapping representing failed contraction. It is worth noting he doesn't respond to Con's analogy, or his points regarding how dissimilar the analogies are; I have to assume he cedes these points.
Pro does argue that Con has broken his own rule; he argues that by removing life support from the violinist, he has violated P3, because the life support does not violate a right to life; Pro says this would destroy Con's entire argument.
Pro is less successful at arguing that abortion is not actively done to end a life; he argues abortion is simply withholding treatment. However, this does not seem to match what Con said - that abortion is done through medicine and knife, not by removing life support. This is big stretch for Pro to make and it doesn't work.
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8/31/2016 11:33:20 PM
Posted: 6 months ago
R3 - Con
Con opens by noting he won't respond to any arguments except for new ones, to give both him and Pro an equal opportunity to rebut.
Con argues abortion should not be allowed, even if contraception fails; he says that failure of a deterrent does not divorce and action from consequences. He provides two analogies: one where a drunk driver is guilty of murder even if he drove under the speed limit and took side streets to try and prevent harm, and another where there is a machine where you can press a button get immense pleasure for five minutes, but there is a 1% chance a baby comes out, and another button where the chance offers lower pleasure and only a 0.1% chance a baby pops out. He says, in neither circumstance is it acceptable to leave the baby to die - especially when you have a choice not to push either button. He argues that if you take an action, you are liable for all results - even if you desire only one outcome.
He also rebuts Con's argument in relation to abortion not being actively designed to kill a baby, but to relieve the mother of stress; he says that doesn't make sense, arguing that if he were to kill his wife for insurance, he couldn't argue he didn't want to kill her, he just wanted money.
Con concludes by noting a few arguments that are not responded to, and then closes.
This is a close debate, and an impressive effort from Pro for his first debate. When judging this, I have to take into account that Pro effectively ceded half the debate when he agreed a fetus is a person; he never responded to Pro's arguments on why a fetus is different than an adult, and struggled to provide a reason for why abortion, in general, is moral and should be legal. Even his analogy only applied to abortions arising from failed contraception; it's certainly not sufficient to justify all abortion, even if we ignore Con's critique of it. On the other hand, Con provided a reasonable moral framework for why abortion is immoral; while he never specifically argued for legalization, his statement that laws should conform to our morality as best they can was never responded to by Pro.
Because of Con's rebuttal of Pro, and Pro's narrow focus, I have to provide a narrow win for Con.