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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/7/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,380 times Debate No: 18221
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (3)




Hey look at that! I'm wanting to debate one of those awful topics that has been debated so often people have simply, and utterly lost interest.
Only here's the twist, I am legitimately wanting to debate this topic.

I won't place too many restrictions on this round, just that the first round is off the flow for the round. Anything said in the acceptance round will be taken into consideration for a general understanding of the round, but not as a voting issue. Actual debate starts in the next round. I'm open to any style, and any manner of arguments; seriously do whatever you wish.

I will personally be rather casual in this debate; you can expect me to be fairly straight-forward. I'll more likely than not only have time to debate in the spare seconds between my life, so my arguments won't be too profound.

Over-all I hope for a fun, and light hearted round. While I understand that this topic is a big one, I also understand that it can be debated without spreading the irrelevant minutia of the subject too thinly.
That said I expect to have a simple, yet relevant round.

That said, I'll open the floor to whomever accepts this debate; Here's to a great round!


Thanks for the topic Mr. Hello Orange.

I'm taking the Pro-Choice side. That is all, as far as my intro goes.

I look forward to a good debate.
Debate Round No. 1


First off, it's awesome to be able to debate Bluesteel! He has proven himself time and time again to be a sturdy, well rounded debater.

As of the start of this round, it should be mutually understood that this issue is on equal footing of both sides. If by the end of the round, you see no reason to vote for either side; don't vote for either side. I would also ask that any readers/voters would be as tabula rasa as possible, Please vote and make your decisions based on the content of the round; not based on personal opinion of the subject, or personal analysis of the round.

So then moving on, I will contend throughout the course of this debate that abortion is morally reprehensible, and the equivalent of murder. While many things cannot, and should not be taken as a given in a debate round; murder is near universally understood to be a bad thing. The warrant for this is inherent, so I won't waste time with it unless my opponent sees it necessary for me to do so. In which case I will prove the warrant in my next speech.

Therefore I contend that if I am able to show that abortion (which should be understood as the early termination of a pregnancy) is in fact murder, the vote should go to the Con.

= Argument: Abortion is Murder =
a. Murder (1)-
Again, murder is considered to be universally immoral without a just reason; and even then a majority of the world's civil societies would contend that there is no standard that warrants murder of another person.

b. Murder (2)-
Murder is the act of of one human being taking the life of another human being. Again, if it can be shown that abortion is murder, then the vote must go to the Con.

c. Unique DNA (1)-
When a Man's sperm joins with a woman's egg, the product is a completely new form of Human DNA unique to either that of the mother or the Father.
Furthermore, although a human fetus starts out as only one cell, that cell is a living human organism. I will further expand upon this argument in points (e.) and (f.)

d. Unique DNA (2)
Although the Fetus is dependent upon the mother for it's survival until it reaches a certain state of maturity, it is not a part of the Mother's body as it's DNA is not the same as the Mother's DNA. Accordingly a Woman does not have the right to do with the fetus what she wills, as the fetus is not a part of her body.

e. Human development (1)-
From the moment a woman's egg is fertilized, to the moment the fetus is born, to the moment the infant dies; the person's DNA remains the same. There is no point where their DNA changes, and there is not point where their DNA is developed after conception; instead this unique DNA is created at the point of conception. Knowing this we can safely infer that regardless of development, the child in a woman's womb is in fact a human being.

f. Human Development (2)-
For a person to attempt justify that abortion is alright so long as the fetus has not yet taken on human form, is the moral equivalent of one claiming that it is permissible to kill an eight year old because their body has not yet fully developed. Or that it is alright to Kill a mentally handicapped person because their brain is not as fully developed as an average person's brain.
Regardless of a person's physical or mentally maturity, they are considered a human being so long as they have Human DNA. Meaning that a 1 day old infant is just as much a human being as 100 year old man. And a newly fertilized egg is just as human as myself or my opponent.

g. Conclusion: Abortion is Murder-
We can thus only logically conclude that the early termination of a pregnancy is murder, as the mother is ending the life of fetus inside her body which has it's own DNA separate from that of the mother.
And as I've already established prior, murder is wrong.

For all of these reasons I can see no other vote in this debate than for the Con, and I concurrently ask for a Con vote.
I now open the floor for my opponent, here's to a fantastic round!


Thanks Hello Orange.

==Burden of proof==

My opponent says that he will show that abortion is morally wrong. Therefore, I can negate the resolution by proving that abortion is morally permissible. It is not my burden to show that all cases of abortion, including late term abortion (up until the day before birth), is morally permissible, but merely that *some* cases of abortion are permissible.


R1) Murder is wrong

My opponent begins his argument by claiming that murder is inherently (prima facie) wrong. He says, "murder is near universally understood to be a bad thing. The warrant for this is inherent." However, to prove that murder is wrong, a priori, my opponent must prove that an a priori ethics system, like the categorical imperative, should be adopted, as opposed to a consequentialist ethics system, that judges actions by their consequences rather than their intent. In this debate, I will be arguing in favor of utilitarianism, which is a consequentialist ethics system that seeks to maximize utility for as many people as possible.

---Utilitarianism is preferable to the categorical imperative---

Joseph Nye of Harvard University cites the following hypothetical to show the ridiculousness of the categorical imperative: you pass through a conflict area and a rebel captain has captured 30 innocent villagers. The captain is going to execute the innocent villagers for being from a rival tribe. You pass by and the captain, for his amusement, hands you a gun and says: shoot one villager and I will let the rest go free. If you refuse, the captain will order his men to shoot all of the villagers. Nye asks, "Will you shoot one person with the consequences of saving [the rest], or will you allow [all] to die but preserve your moral integrity by refusing to play his dirty game?" [1]

Judging the morality of an action a priori, without looking at consequences, leads to rigid ethical systems that prefer 30 people to die rather than one, merely because "murder is "on face" wrong and is never morally permissible."

In fact, States have the power to deem many forms of murder as "lawful," which many people equate with moral permissibility. State sanctioned killing is usually considered morally permissible – shooting enemy soldiers, dropping bombs on enemies from drones, capital punishment, physician assisted suicide (in some countries) – these are all deemed morally permissible by the State, usually because it serves the State's ends.

By drawing clear legal distinctions, the State avoids any potential downsides to these types of killings because people clearly understand the contexts in which killing a human is allowed and disallowed, and are thus deterred from performing what the State defines as murder.

Since murder is defined by the State, I ask my opponent to use the term "killing a human" rather than murder, to avoid confusion, since it's his burden to show why killing any human, regardless of circumstances, is morally wrong.

R2) Abortion is murder

Murder is just a word, not a ubiquitous moral concept. Its definition can be re-written by States whenever they desire. Random House defines murder as "unlawful killing of a person"; Princeton's Wordnet defines it as "unlawful killing"; Kernerman English Learner's Dictionary defines it as "the crime of killing," and Webster's defines it as "the offense of killing." [2] These definitions all have one thing in common – murder is defined by the State and its laws; it is a killing of a person not sanctioned by law.

Thus, my opponent can, in theory, argue that abortion is murder, but this is inherently incorrect, since the State defines murder and the United States currently allows abortion, so it is, by definition, not murder. Unless my opponent can prove some moral, as opposed to legal, implication of abortion being defined as murder, all of his arguments fall.

Under utilitarianism, because people understand that abortion is sanctioned by law, but killing someone outside the womb is not, this means that legalizing abortion does not sanction other types of killing, so there is really no downside to allowing abortion.

If you agree with my opponent that murder should be defined as "killing anything with human DNA," then we'd also have to treat suicides as murder (and attempted suicide as attempted murder, with attendant jail time), we'd have to treat killing al Qaeda members with drones as murder, and try the "pilots" in court, etc. We need a flexible definition. An a apriori moral system would judge each of these actions on face (as killing another human) and conclude they are morally impermissible, since we cannot judge these actions by their consequences (for example, saving Americans from another al Qaeda attack).

Refuting my opponent's specific subpoints.

(a) My opponent never shows why murder, as he defines it, is wrong.

(b) If my opponent used a dictionary, he would see that the word "unlawful" appears in every definition, reinforcing the fact that the definition of murder is defined by government.

(c) My opponent defines a person as any unique human DNA that forms. Under this definition, cancer (mutated DNA) is a new person and removing it is murder. I sincerely hope he adds to this definition in a later point, since DNA, by itself, is a pretty pathetic definition of what constitutes a human.

(d) I agree – a fetus is not a part of a woman's body; it is, however, attached to an umbilical cord that literally drains resources from her body and would likely kill her if she was not able to consume enough additional calories. Miscarriages are extremely common in nature, particularly when the mother's food resources are constrained, which led Samuel Harris to exclaim that "God is the most prolific abortionist." If nature can make the decision that a woman cannot afford to have a baby, why can the woman not make this decision for herself? Some women engage in livelihoods in countries where a pregnancy means a complete loss of income and potential starvation.

Judith Butler explains, "For me, the argument in favor of a sustainable life can be made just as easily for a woman or girl who requires an abortion in order to live her life and maintain her livelihood." [4] Butler continues, "We have to ask what kinds of choices are made possible by social configurations of life, and to locate our choices socially and politically. There is no way around the question, "What makes a life livable?" This is different from the question of what constitutes life." Because human young cannot provide for themselves without the help of their mother, if the mother cannot afford to raise a child, the life is not truly viable. Just as a fetus with a horrible genetic mutation is not viable, a fetus whose mother cannot afford to care for it is not a viable life either.

Lastly, Butler raises the important issue that we don't need to ask when life begins – we need to ask "at what point in any life process does the question of rights emerge?" Rights do not emerge until the umbilical cord has been severed and the fetus can survive on its own. We'll see why through Judith's Thompson's Violinist analogy:

"You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers have canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. The director of the hospital now tells you, 'Look, we're sorry the Society of Music Lovers did this to you-we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the violinist is now plugged into you. To unplug him would be to kill him. But never mind, it's only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you.' Is it morally incumbent on you to accede to this situation?" Judith Thompson goes on to argue that the fetus, like the violinist, has no right to use your body unless you give it to him." [5]

So even though the fetus is not a literal "part" of the woman's body, it is still not inherently a viable life, since viability is located in social conditions, AND its USE of a woman's body does not require her, morally, to accede to this situation.

So the argument comes from the USE of a woman's body, not the fetus being "part" of her body (although some pro-choicers falsely attribute the fetus to being "part" of her body).

(e) Killing something with unique human DNA is not murder, else killing a cancer tumor is murder. My opponent needs to reach further in his definition of murder beyond DNA. In fact, my opponent uses the terms "human being" and "person" interchangeably (i.e., "there is no standard that warrants murder of another person"). However, as Random House says, murder is the unlawful killing of a person and a person is "a human being . . . recognized by law as having rights." Webster's defines a person as being "self-conscious." Since fetuses are not recognized by law as having rights (again, personhood is defined by the State) AND they are not self-conscious, they inhabit a different moral and legal sphere from persons; as Butler would say, rights don't enter the equation until the fetus is separate and self-conscious. In fact, many definitions of murder and torture, such as Peter Singer's, hinge on the ability to feel pain, and at the stage where almost all abortions occur, the fetus cannot even feel pain. There is clearly a legal and moral distinction; it's not as simple as human DNA = person.

(f) Straw man – I won't do any of the things my opponent is arguing against.

(g) Already refuted above.

==My case==

1) Clear cases where abortion should be allowed

(a) Rape

The woman does not choose to become pregnant. This fits perfectly with the Violinist analogy, since you are forced to be attached to the Violinist and should not be held morally culpable for refusing to accede to this situation.

(b) Medical need

In cases, like ectopic pregnancy (where the fetus is growing in the fallopian tube), the mother has a substantial chance of dying if the fetus is not aborted, in which case abortion is a life-saving medical procedure. If abortion is defined as murder, then medical need would not matter; the mother would be forced to carry any life to term, regardless of danger.

2) Abortions don't stop when we ban them

The New York Times reports that "A 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. Moreover, the researchers found that abortion was safe in countries where it was legal, but dangerous in countries where it was outlawed and performed clandestinely. Globally, abortion accounts for 13 percent of women's deaths during pregnancy and childbirth." [6] So under utilitarianism, banning abortion has no benefits but DOES have detriments, so banning abortion is morally impermissible.

To give a US example: According to Associated Content, in 1932, 15,000 women died each year due to illegally and improperly performed abortions.

3) Unwanted children are bad for society

The CDC reports that 60% of women seeking an abortion already had one child, and often their method of birth control has failed. According to studies by the Guttmacher Institute. "a majority of women who report their reasons for seeking abortion say they can't afford a child or are unready to raise one. Women living below the federal poverty level are more than four times more likely to terminate a pregnancy than women earning above 300 percent of the poverty level."

A study by Steven Levitt found that the 40% decline in the homicide rate can be directly attributed to Roe v. Wade and the decline in unwanted children. [7] The 5 states that legalized abortion prior to Roe saw declines in crime earlier than other states and the crime declines lagged abortion's legalization by about 18 years in all states.

This means that banning abortion is bad, on utilitarian grounds, because it leads to more deaths from illegally performed abortions and leads to more crime (through more unwanted children).

My opponent may argue foster care, but that just churns out sexual abuse victims, who are likely to become abusers themselves. A study by Orlow (2009) found that "As many as 75 percent of all children in foster care, upon leaving the system, will have experienced sexual abuse." [8] Churning out sexual abusers is obviously bad for society.

4) Absurdity

If creating a nonviable fetus is murder, then fertility clinics routinely murder fetuses, since they typically implant three to five zygotes at a time, knowing that only one is likely to take, meaning they are murdering the rest, statistically speaking.

Vote Pro.


[1] "Nuclear Ethics" p. 18-9
[8] "Sexual Abuse: An Epidemic in Foster Care Settings"
Debate Round No. 2


= Opening Statements =
I am a bit frustrated at this debate, on several levels.
My opponent has directly gone against my wishes of keeping this debate simple, and avoiding irrelevant aspects associated with this topic.

The Categorical Imperative, Utilitarianism, Suicide, Al Qaeda, Warfare; None of them has anything to do with abortion.

Furthermore my opponent never refutes my arguments directly, but uses logical syllogisms to skew the ground of the debate. They assert that because a certain action is justified in a certain situation it is justified when speaking about abortion.
And when my opponent began to talk about definitions, I had to get up and walk away from my computer for a few moments.

Let's simplify this in so much as we can, I claim that abortion is wrong; as we are taking the life of an unborn human without a just cause.
My opponent claims that it's all in the name of utilitarianism, and killing a fetus somehow benefits all of society. (Rouge Captain scenario)

= Debate =

a. Because people value life, you will never find a society that says murder is alright; it's always just a means to an end. We may think the end is good, but never that murder is good.

b. This is the is/ought fallacy. Just because something is law, doesn't mean it's a moral action. Otherwise my opponent would have to affirm that it is moral for China to kill Christians just because that's the law.

c. The cancer is apart of the human, I won't refute that; however it is not all of the human as a whole. When treating cancer you may kill part of the human (the cancerous tissue and cells) however the original entity that is the human remains in tact. Abortion doesn't only partially kill the fetus, and it is not meant to help the fetus in the long run; it completely kills the child, and it's sole intent is to end the child's life.

d. The Fetus will die before the mother does if their lives are in conflict due to lack of nutrients[1]. The Fetus will almost always die before the mother when complications of pregnancy arise[1]. And while the baby does die during a miscarriage, it's not murder as the baby died without malicious intent. Miscarriage are a tragic part of nature, but it's not the same thing as another human deciding a fetus should not live.
Also on the issue of rights, according to the Declaration of Independence, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[2][3] a person's rights are given when they come into being.
As the Declaration
of Independence states "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" and from the UDHR "Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,"

Finally, even where they not guaranteed that right by their fellow man, or by law; if the right is value universally, then they have that right. The only difference is that their right is unjustly ignored by those around them.
Again, I'll extend across the is/ought fallacy; just because a fetus is not given these rights in the status quo, doesn't mean they shouldn't be given this right.
In the same way, just because people in China are denied their human rights doesn't mean they should be.

e. Extend across (c.) first of all, next extend across my semantics arguments; The point of this debate is not to argue what a dictionary says, but to argue the subject of this debate. Finally extend across my arguments from the is/ought fallacy; just because the fetus isn't guaranteed these rights by the state, doesn't mean they shouldn't be.

f. My opponent does this time and time again throughout the course of their case when they claim abortion is alright because the fetus isn't yet guaranteed the right to life.

e. Extend.

1. Clear cases where abortion should be allowed
a. Rape-
Rape is indeed a terrible thing, and in the same way the woman didn't choose to be raped, the baby didn't choose to be created.

b. Medical Need-
While in this case the end product of abortion would benefit the mother, the act itself would not (i.e. the means are not justified just because the end is.). Also I would like to extend across my opponent's scenario of the rouge captain; Utilitarianism.

2. Abortions don't stop when we ban them-
If you accept my prior logic that abortion is murder, despite it's necessity; then this argument is irrelevant.

First, nothing stops just because its banned; Murder, Drugs, Rape, Theft all of them continue to happen although they're illegal. That isn't grounds to legalize them.

Second, in the realm of Utilitarianism extend my arguments on my opponent's first argument.

Third, it's a terrible thing that these women died. But this isn't grounds to justify abortion/legalize abortion. It's simply an awful tragedy.

3. Unwanted children are bad for society-

First, my opponents opening statements outline why women wan to get abortions; he never actually legitimizes the action however.

Next on my opponent's card by Stephen Levitt, there is no reason to believe that the legalization of abortion should be linked to the drop in crime. These are two completely separate areas, and unless my opponent can cite directly in the article the link between the drop in crime and legalization of abortion this is not a benefit for them.
For instance, it's been proven that those who vote tend to commit less crime than those who do not vote. That does not mean we ought to conclude that voting lowers crime rates, it means that individuals who vote happen to commit less crime than those who do not.

On Foster Care, I would first contend that even if the are sexually abused; that is preferable to never getting the chance to exist at all. Do not get me wrong, I agree that the current system is not a good one; and it's a tragedy that so many children are abused. But so long as they are given the chance to survive, they can overcome.
Next, we see the obvious solution is to push fr changes in current adoption laws; So that less children are in foster homes, and more are adopted by a solid and steady family.

The reason so many people are discouraged from adopting children in the US in the first place is because it's an expensive and difficult process. [4] in fact in 1998 only 4,697 American Orphans where adopted, whereas 15, 774 where adopted from overseas by American parents.
There is a desire to adopt and get these children into safe, stable homes; the need for change lies in reforming the current system.

4. Absurdity-

Extend the prior stated argument on miscarriage.

= Conclusion =
Abortion is murder, and morally wrong; despite whether or not it is seen as necessary in a given situation.

= Sources =


Thanks for the quick reply Hello Orange.

==Responding to my opponent's Round 3==

R1) My opponent's "complaint"

My opponent complains that many of the things I talk about are not directly relevant to abortion. However, when ethics is debated by ethics professors, they often employ thought experiments and analogies to help the listener decide what is morally right vs. wrong. This is typical in an ethics debate.

In addition, my argument cannot be as simple as my opponent's. His argument is essentially that abortion is murder (from HIS definition of murder) and murder is wrong ("because it just is"). To contest his claims, OF COURSE I need to talk about whether something can be wrong merely because it is defined in a certain way and whether ethics actually ban killing in all cases, or whether some cases are morally permissible.

R2) Utilitarianism

I can't honestly tell what part of my opponent's Round 3 was intended to refute Utilitarianism. He kept saying he refuted it near the end of the Round, but never actually did. He also claims he's using the Rebel Captain (he spells it "rouge captain") example against me, but he never says why it suits his side.

I'll try to just . . . refute a few of the things he says regarding utilitarianism.

BangBang says: "My opponent claims that it's all in the name of utilitarianism, and killing a fetus somehow benefits all of society."

This is a mischaracterization of my argument. The POLICY of allowing abortion in society creates more benefits and fewer harms than the POLICY of banning abortion. Utilitarianism does not burden me to show that one aborted fetus helps all of society. And since utilitarianism is a system of ethics, if there are two possible policies, the policy that benefits society more is "moral" and the policy that does not benefit society more is "immoral," since the second option forces us to give up the first option and we would therefore be purposely harming society.

BangBang says: "a. Because people value life, you will never find a society that says murder is alright; it's always just a means to an end. We may think the end is good, but never that murder is good."

There are so many problems with this statement. First, my opponent is using the word "good" to imply "moral."The two terms are NOT equivalent. The entire point of ethics is to debate whether "bad" things are morally permissible. Second, my opponent continues to use the word "murder." In a society, words have power; the word murder is powerful only because it is used in our society (according to 4 dictionaries) to mean the unlawful killing of another person. By that definition, abortion is not murder, so my opponent needs to stop invoking the word murder; he should instead say "killing something with human DNA." If this is what he means, then you will find that MOST societies believe that killing something with human DNA is "alright," i.e. morally permissible. Most societies believe that it is alright when there are mitigating circumstances: you were at war, the other person wanted to kill you first, the other person was invading your property, the other person was a criminal sentenced to death. Ethics is always about whether mitigating circumstances make something permissible; the mitigating circumstances for abortion should seem obvious: the fetus is not viable as a separate entity, it is not self-aware (thus not a person) and it creates demands on another human being that that human being is not willing to fulfill.

Third, the entire point of bringing up utilitarianism was to argue that we should judge the morality of an action based on the ENDS rather than the MEANS. Utilitarianism doesn't care about the means, only the ends. If you must shoot one villager to save 29 others, that is okay, even though the MEANS is "murder." The categorical imperative argues what my opponent seems to be implying: that people should not be treated as a means to an end, only as ends in themselves. However, I've already shown the problem with this with the Rebel Captain example. Nye actually continues in that quote to say that when nuclear weapons enter the equation, the choice of ethical systems is even more dire. The categorical imperative would tell us that torture uses another human as a means to an end and thus never allowed; however, in the thought experiment where you can torture one terrorist to prevent a nuclear bomb from exploding in the heart of New York City, most people would agree that the categorical imperative is too rigid an ethical system, and we should instead default to utilitarianism.

R3) Definition of murder

My opponent claims that this is the "is-ought fallacy" (one of my favorite fallacies) to say that since abortion is currently allowed, it is moral to allow it. However, this is actually true under utilitarianism. There is only one potential downside to abortion, as far as I can tell from what my opponent has argued: that people will think it is "murder" and thus that "murder" is okay. However, since people currently understand the distinction between murder (as defined by law) and abortion, it will not cause people to suddenly think murder is okay.

In addition, the POINT of my argument here was to show that abortion isn't murder since the definition of murder is set by society. So my opponent cannot claim that all murder is wrong and thus abortion is wrong, since the definition of murder is not static. He must show specifically why killing a fetus is morally wrong. Although he currently fails to even show an ethical system proving that murder is wrong.

R4) Human DNA

My opponent's only real argument that abortion is wrong seems to be that the fetus has distinct human DNA. I pointed out that cancer, through mutation, has distinct human DNA from its host as well. My opponent refutes this by saying that you can excise cancer without killing the host, but this is true of an abortion as well.

My opponent next starts using the term fetus and child interchangeably. However, a fetus is not a child. A child is self-aware and autonomous. A fetus is not self-aware and cannot survive without its host. That is a clear moral distinction.

R5) Pregnancy complications

My opponent claims, "The Fetus will almost always die before the mother when complications of pregnancy arise." This doesn't appear anywhere in my opponent's source; he basically just links us to a random website about pregnancy and then makes this claim. It's also true in the sense that when the fetus grows in a fallopian tube and ruptures the tube, first the fetus dies and THEN the mother dies from internal bleeding (so the fetus dies "before" the mother). Waiting for the fetus to die a natural death in this case would completely doom the mother as well. My opponent has taken a very extreme position here that even most pro-life advocates wouldn't take ("no medical exceptions").

R6) The Declaration of Independence/UDHR

This is just an appeal to authority. I've provided actual reasons that rights don't start until birth, including the need to be autonomous and self-aware in order to have rights. My opponent never bothers to answer this. It's also the is-ought fallacy – even IF our country currently defined rights as starting at conception, that doesn't mean that a good moral system actually does have rights beginning at conception.

Also, these documents never say specifically that rights start at conception. They are both ambiguous on this point, since they talk about "men," which are autonomous and self-aware beings.

R7) Rape

My opponent says that just like the woman didn't choose to be raped, the fetus didn't choose to be created. This is true. But remember the Violinist analogy: the Violinist may not have chosen to be linked to your kidneys for 9 months and neither did you; but just because NEITHER of you chose this situation DOES NOT mean that you are morally required to agree to be linked to the Violinist for 9 months, even if severing the cord that connects you will result in his death. Since you have ownership over your own body, you have the right to deny another person the use of that body. The goal of abortion isn't so much to kill the fetus as to get it to stop using the woman's body; if it was possible to easily implant it in someone who wanted a child but couldn't conceive, I'm sure we would do that.

R8) Medical need

My opponent says that the means are not justified by the ends. So if the woman had a 100% chance of dying without an abortion, my opponent would still deny it to her. He never offers a moral system that justifies this decision. He extends utilitiarianism but utilitarianism clearly derives more benefits from allowing an abortion in this scenario.

R9) Abortions don't stop when you ban them

My opponent claims that murder doesn't stop when you ban it. However, deterrence is a function of the probability of getting caught times the magnitude of punishment. Banning murder does not stop murder, but it DOES decrease murder compared to a world where it is not banned. The study cited in the NY Times, however, proves that abortion does not decrease AT ALL when it is banned, using a cross-country analysis. There is no deterrent effect; women merely use more dangerous methods, like sticking coat hangers into their uterus, using chemical baths, throwing themselves down stairs, etc, when abortion is banned.

R10) Unwanted children

My opponent claims that correlation is not causation as far as the Levitt study is concerned. This is true; all Levitt can do is run an econometric model to show that Roe v. Wade heavily correlates with the murder rate drastically declining 18 years later. But he DOES provide an explanation for why it is causal: unwanted children are not raised well, are more likely to live in poverty, and are thus more likely to join gangs and commit crime. In states that legalized abortion earlier than the rest of the nation (prior to Roe v. Wade), crime rates declined earlier than in the rest of the nation. This last fact leads Levitt to believe strongly that his results are causal.

My opponent says it's better to be alive and raped repeatedly in foster care than not be alive. First, this is not proven. If you never become self-aware, you never know what you are missing. I'd rather never become self-aware than live a life in Rwanda during the genocides, for example, or in China, during the Rape of Nanking, or in Germany during WWII (I'm Jewish).

R11) Absurdity

My opponent just refers us to his miscarriage argument, but doing something that is substantially likely to lead to someone's death is still considered murder. If you inject someone with Ebola and they die, that is murder, even though there is only an 80% chance they succumb to the disease. When a fertility doctor implants multiple fetuses during fertility treatment, there is roughly an 80% chance that the fetus will die ("not take"), which is why they implant 3-5. So if we accept my opponent's definition of murder as killing a fetus, we must get rid of fertility clinics as well.


1. Judith Bulter says that a life is not "viable" if the mother's social conditions do not exist to facilitate its existence, since we are reliant on those social conditions to survive. So a fetus is not a potential person if its mother cannot afford to support it since it is not viable.

2. Judith Bulter argues that rights do not come into play at conception. A fetus is not self-aware and thus cannot have rights until it is self-aware.

3. Judith Thompson argues that a fetus is not autonomous, meaning capable of surviving on its own. The Famous Violinist thought experiment shows that just because someone is attached to our bodies and depends on that attachment for survival DOES NOT mean that we must agree to this situation, since we own our bodies and do not have to accede to another's use of our bodies.

4. Utilitarianism. My opponent never answers this and never offers a competing ethical system that would define abortion as wrong. Utilitarianism says banning abortion is morally wrong because women don't stop having abortions one iota, but instead resort to illegal and dangerous means, which killed 15,000 women per year in the U.S. prior to Roe V. Wade. In addition, flooding society with unwanted children leads to drastically higher crime rates; the Levitt study finds that crime rates would be 40% higher without Roe. V Wade. Lastly, there are 42 million abortions performed worldwide per year. [1] If we COULD stop these, that would quickly lead to overpopulation (approximately 1 billion additional people every 20 years).


Remember, I only need to prove that abortion is morally permissible (meaning there is one case where it should be allowed).

1. Medical necessity – clearly if the mother is guaranteed death without an abortion, there is no benefit to banning her from getting the procedure.

Vote Con.

Debate Round No. 3


I'm very sorry to my opponent, but I won't be able to debate this next round; as usual I'm painfully short on time and just am not able to set apart enough all at once to do justice to this debate any further.

I thank my opponent for their engaging, and well written arguments; and I hope to have "re-do" in a few months when my time isn't stretched so thin.
I ask that my opponent accept this as an agreement to have the round judged on prior made arguments, and not to count this as a forfeit.

Again, thanks for the wonderful debate!


Thanks for the debate BangBang-Coconut. I'm sorry you had to skip your last round. I'll agree that voters can choose to not count it as a forfeit if they like. I did, however, give a more technical rebuttal in Round 3 with the expectation that I could give a summary style closing argument in Round 4. So if voters aren't going to count this as a forfeit, I'd like to take some time to quickly sum up the debate and re-explain my position.

==My opponent's case==

My opponent's argument is essentially:

(P1) Murder is defined as killing another human being
(P2) A human being is anything with human DNA
(P3) Abortion is murder (from P1 and P2)
(P4) Murder is wrong
(P5) Abortion is wrong

This is the most simplistic pro-life argument possible, and I have refuted it on multiple levels.

The most problematic refutation for my opponent is the refutation of P4. He said in Round 1 that if asked, he would prove why murder is wrong. My opponent never explains under what ethical system murder is wrong. The only ethical system that concludes that murder is always wrong, on face, regardless of consequences, is the categorical imperative. However, the categorical imperative is a terrible ethical system because it does not allow you to kill one person to save the lives of thousands of other people, as Joseph Nye explains. For this reason, utilitarianism is the superior ethical system because it judges the morality of actions based on consequences rather than imposing a categorical restraint on action. Under utilitarianism, murder, as my opponent defines it, is morally permissible. For example, killing a criminal (capital punishment) can be morally permissible under utilitarianism. Killing an enemy soldier in a war could be morally permissible. However, the categorical imperative (my opponent's rigid morality) would require you to let the enemy soldier kill you, since it would force you to conclude that killing is always wrong, regardless of consequences or circumstances.

So if murder is morally permissible, my opponent's P4 fails and thus his whole argument fails.

P1 is also extremely problematic. The first reason it's problematic is because my opponent's only proof that murder is wrong is that society defines it as wrong. However, I proved that society does not define a fetus as a person, as far as rights are concerned (Judith Butler). 4 dictionaries prove that murder is defined as unlawful killing, which abortion is not. So when my opponent argues that this is circular and semantic, it's his own fault for saying that murder is wrong because society defines it as such.

I also prove that murder is defined as killing another PERSON, not another human being (using Webster's Dictionary). A person must be autonomous, meaning capable of surviving on its own. Judith Thompson explains why with the Famous Violinist – if someone requires the use of our body for their survival, we do not have to agree to that use, since we have ownership over our bodies. In addition, a person must have self-awareness or denying them life is not a loss because they are not aware of what they lost, since they were never aware in the first place. So morality sees a distinction between a person and non-autonomous, non-self-aware human DNA.

So if murder is killing a person and a fetus is not defined as a person (remember, this was never refuted), then P1 of his argument fails.

==My case==

Remember, utilitarianism is an ethical system that weighs two options and tells us to choose the option that creates fewer harms and more benefits. This preferable option is moral; choosing the other option is immoral.

1. Single case utilitarianism

When judging whether someone who needs an abortion for medical reasons should get an abortion, as a singular case, utilitarianism would obviously conclude that an abortion should be allowed if the mother has a 100% chance of dying without the procedure. If the mother dies, the fetus dies too. So there is NO benefit to denying the procedure, since any possible benefit derives from the fetus surviving, but there is a HUGE downside to denying the procedure, i.e. the mother dies. It's easy to vote for the medical exception by itself because I only need to prove that abortion is morally permissible (see the burden of proof I set up in Round 2).

2. Policy utilitarianism

This utilitarianism judges whether the entire policy of allowing abortion creates more societal benefits and fewer harms than the policy of banning it. Banning abortion creates huge downsides; the NY Times study proves, through a cross-country analysis, that banning abortion doesn't lead to more than the tiniest decrease in the abortion rate; women merely shift from legal, safe abortions into dangerous back ally and home remedies, like coat hangers (which can perforate the uterus), ingesting dangerous chemicals, physical blows to the stomach, etc. Prior to Roe v. Wade, 15,000 women died per year from botched abortions in the U.S.

The second benefit to abortion is that it decreases unwanted children. The Levitt study proves that crime rates would be 40% higher if Roe v. Wade had never happened. 5 states legalized abortion prior to Roe v. Wade and those states saw their decrease in crime rates start significantly before the rest of the country, and every state that legalized abortion saw crime rates begin to drop exactly 18 years after they legalized abortion. So without abortion, crime rates would be significantly higher. This makes sense since unwanted children are likely to live in poverty and have bad home lives, both huge risk factors for crime. Lots of unwanted children are bad for society.

The third benefit is to the world. 42 million abortions are performed per year. The world population would grow by an additional 1 billion people every 20 years, above and beyond the already astronomical population growth rate, if all abortions ceased. Stopping abortion would flood the world with far too many unwanted children and too many mouths to feed.

So clearly, weighing the benefits and harms, utilitarianism leads us to conclude that allowing abortion is the best and most moral policy.

3. Absurd definition

Lastly, my opponent definitions is absurd since it would mean that fertility clinics routinely murder fetuses by actually trying to create life since when implanting a fetus, the implantation has an 80% failure rate, so they implant 3-5 fetuses. If my opponent's definition of murder is correct, this would be the same as injecting someone with Ebola, which has an 80% mortality rate. This seems absurd that trying to create life is murder. This is an independent reason to reject my opponent's P1 definition of murder.

For all these reasons, I urge a Pro vote.

I leave you with this awesome PSA from Lisa Edelstein from House (see youtube video).
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by BangBang-Coconut 7 years ago
I'll try and post my response soon, but I didn't expect such a long arguments >->.
Posted by Winged 7 years ago
short and profound, my left butt cheek
Posted by debate250 7 years ago
Con's round two debate seems strong and interesting; I look forward to seeing Pro's rebuttals!
Posted by debate250 7 years ago
This sounds like a good debate, and I'm looking forward to reading and voting on it once the debate is finished.
Posted by BangBang-Coconut 7 years ago
Coolio, I've wanted to debate you for a good while Bluesteel :-D!
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by iamnotwhoiam 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's utilitarian ethics were not successfully rebutted by Con. Con never even got as far as arguing why "murder" (on his definition) was morally wrong. Personhood never really came up, surprisingly. Certainly, Con's "unique DNA" argument was not a good one and was rebutted. Con dropped several of Pro's arguments and forfeited a round. Conduct to Pro because of Con's unbecoming complaint at the scope of Pro's argument. Both used sources well.
Vote Placed by logicrules 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con failed to establish that unborn human was fully human. While I believe abortion is murder, I support the right for all to practice their religion free of government interference. Pro seemed to think unborn is also human since he chose to make a plethora of exceptions to legitimatize murder.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro used many relevant analogies such as the rebel captain and statistics on how abortion rates are the same in countries where it is legal and illegal. He refuted all of Con's arguments. Con wanted to make this simple but his arguments just weren't convincing enough. The issue of abortion is a complicated one, and Pro's use of examples to show why killing is not always wrong was directly relevant to the issue of abortion. I feel Con tried to oversimplify this.