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RFD - Abortion

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8/31/2015 11:55:18 PM
Posted: 2 years ago

Resolved: aborting a fetus/embryo before 24 weeks is okay. (Okay, I assume, means morally permissible)

It appears that Con is making the only actual arguments here, so I think it is fair to give the BoP to Con, since pretty much everything said here revolved around what he said. Con also started first and was the only one to make a case, while Pro rebutted it. Thus, Con can win if at least half of his arguments hold.

1. Actions and consequences

Con's first contention is that people should not pay for the actions of others, such as a father robbing a store and a child going to jail for it. While this make sense, it (1) was never tied to abortion. Con should have worded this such as "as a mother makes wrong decisions and gets pregnant, the fetus should not have to pay for it". I can tell that Con wanted to say this, but for some reason did not. (2), if I assume this applies to abortion, this is only an argument against women who accidentally got pregnant, not those who do it on purpose. (3) this contention lies on the assertion that a fetus is a human/person. This should have been made after it has been established that a fetus is a person - otherwise it lies on a shaky foundation. All around, I'm not given much to go off of here.

Pro responds by saying that such a punishment is for the good of the child, because perhaps it will grow up unwanted and unloved. Also, the world is being overpopulated, so it may be a good thing to get an abortion. Con just focused on overpopulation in the next round, which is fair because Pro's rebuttal wasn't that specific anyway. Con shows us that overpopulation isn't bad because the entire world's people can fit in the state of Texas if they were densely packed like the city of New York is, and gives us some other maps. I'm still hesitant to buy this because there's no proper sources to prove any of this, but Pro didn't offer much himself besides a couple links that suggests that a high density of people is problematic.

This whole argument goes from actions and consequences to population density, and the fault of that is mostly Pro's. While Con's first argument had flaws, Pro didn't really try to expose them (the ones I pointed out) when he had the chance. His rebuttal was also pretty brief, so...I'll give this to Con, even though it isn't particularly strong as a contention.

2. Planned Parenthood

I fail to how this argument is relevant to abortion. I can buy all of Con's statements that PP is doing illegal activity and that selling body parts is wrong yet not have this factor into the topic at hand. I tend to agree with Pro that illegal activity does not dictate how abortion as a whole should be judged. I can be pro-choice and oppose PP, or be pro-life and support it. It doesn't have anything to do with abortion as a whole, so this point is moot.

3. Personhood/Rights

Con does want to argue why abortion is wrong, and he attempts to affirm the immorality of it. This point will focus on the exchange made on the ethics of aborting a fetus that contains human rights.

This argument, probably the biggest one, was hinted at in Round 1 by Con by saying that abortion kills babies who can lead healthy lives. Pro says that Con hasn't actually shown why abortion is bad and that any arguments for it being bad wouldn't really work against him anyway. Con responds in Round 2 by saying that fetuses are human beings, and thus they deserve unalienable rights to live. Pro states "To determine whether or not something is bad based on what kind of DNA it has instead of it's physical and mental qualities and state, just doesn't really make sense." I find issue with this statement because (1) Pro hasn't shown fundamental differences between fetuses and full grown humans yet, and (2) the DNA argument wasn't ever advanced by Con, which kind of straw mans Con's argument. But Con is also straw manning Pro's stance that fetuses aren't humans (when Pro has admitted they are humans).

Pro finally stated in Round 4 the characteristics of a fetus that make it different from a grown human. He said that fetuses before 24 weeks don't feel pain, and they aren't conscious. He said the lack of consciousness "was a good reason to allow abortion". While I don't see a full link between consciousness and the morality of aborting, this argument is okay at face value. Con, in the last round, says that the conscious argument doesn't work because it would apply to born people who are unconscious. Pro couldn't respond by this point since it was the last round, so I'm unsure of what the reply to this would be. I don't think either debater really proved why abortion is moral/immoral - Pro said consciousness is the dividing line, but Con didn't give much an argument of his own besides saying that they are human and deserve human rights. I think Con, who holds the BoP here, didn't quite reach the point of negating the " okayness" of abortion in order to win this point.

4. Pain

This argument is made upon a bare premise, which is that pain makes abortion inhumane. The problem is that Con never advanced this premise - he didn't show us how pain affected the morality of abortion. Pro didn't either, which he could have taken advantage of with Con's lack of argumentation. But Con's failure to do so weakened the point quite a bit, and left me so wondering why pain was relevant at all. All Con needed to do was show that:

P1) Fetuses feel pain
P2) Abortion causes pain
P3) Causing pain is immoral
C1) Abortion is immoral (following from P2)

That's it Con. Just prove that, and your argument is set. Instead, it went something like:

P1) Fetuses feel pain
C1) Abortion is immoral

That doesn't work. P1 itself was up for debate, and I think Pro's sources won out anyway as he showed using scientific sources that fetuses experiences pain after 24 weeks, while Con's source just showed fetuses having reflexive actions beforehand. Ultimately, this contention goes to Pro, even though it didn't have big impact anyways.

5. 24 weeks

Con made this argument later on. If it's wrong to kill a fetus that's 24 weeks old, then what about a fetus who is a minute younger? The problem, as Pro pointed out, is that anything after 24 weeks is irrelevant to the debate. The debate is focused on the morality of abortion from 0-24 weeks, and Pro may or may not believe it to be moral afterwards. Ultimately, it's an irrelevant argument, although it could have been valid if the resolution had been a bit different.


Pro, to some extent, negated nearly every argument brought forward by Con. I definitely think there is a strong pro-life argument that exists, but Con could have found ways to argue it better. By the end of the debate I just wasn't fully convinced by Con's case, since Pro put up some good objections. Thus, I thought Pro won arguments.