The Instigator
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The Contender
Pro (for)
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Is Abortion Moral?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/1/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 529 times Debate No: 76075
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
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I would open up this debate by arguing that abortion is immoral. To kick it off, I would like to pose the inconsistencies in the law regarding a fetuses' status. If you kill a pregnant woman, and the baby dies as well, then it counts as a double homicide, or two |people| dead. Also there is the problem that I would consider life beginning at conception, even though I lack any kind of religious belief, and I would like to leave religious belief out of the conversation, using only secular arguments. It simply makes sense to think of fetuses as human in at least this context. I would like to clarify abortion as being legal in two situations before I continue, I would consider abortion in the case of rape, or the mother has to choose between her own life and the babies'. This would follow because rape cannot be prevented as far as pregnancy goes, and forcing a woman to have her rapist's baby is simply cruel, considering birth is one of the most painful experiences, besides things such as broken bones, migraine headaches, and kidney/gallstones according to my source here: I would also argue that the woman has had plenty of opportunity to choose before getting pregnant, such as using birth control pill before having unprotected sex, and using the day-after pill. Also, there is evidence to suggest a link between abortion and infertility according to the Mayo Clinic: All in all, I would argue that conception seems to be the smart place to place the beginning of a human life, at least as far as birth goes. I wish good luck to those who decide to take on my claims, and as an open-minded person I am more than open to persuasion,
- Minecraftiscewl


To begin, I would like to thank my opponent for posting this interesting topic. This is precisely the kind of subject that I joined DDO to debate (morality, that is. Not abortion specifically).

I will be taking the Pro side of this debate, arguing that the abortion of a human fetus is moral in a notable number of cases, for a variety of reasons. Indeed, my opponent has already noted two such instances for me:

"I would consider abortion in the case of rape, or the mother has to choose between her own life and the babies' [sic]."

Justifiably enough, these cases alone, as well as my opponent's concession are enough to set a precedent for particular cases and external or internal (in regards to the mother) criteria by which we can measure whether abortion is moral. By having conceded these two points, even without my prompting, my opponent has abandoned his own thesis statement, and demonstrated it to be wrong. Nonetheless, there are a few other points which may still be argued:

First, I would like to address Cons' assertion that the law regards killing a pregnant woman as double homicide, and is therefore "two people dead". I assume my opponent refers to the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (2004), to which I have posted a link below.
This Act does indeed assert that the killing of a pregnant woman in any stage of pregnancy as punishable for both the death of the mother and the unborn child separately, but the language of the Act has been carefully constructed. This Act does not allow the law to consider two "people" dead, but rather one person (the mother), and one Homo Sapiens - a subtle, but important difference. In the eyes of the law, an unborn child may have particular rites, but is not granted the full extent of the rights attributed to "person-hood", still permitting (with respect to other pertinent laws) the abortion of a fetus. As a small extension of this paragraph, I would also like to note that what is or is not legal does not necessarily have much weight in a debate about ethics. While the law does attempt to allow what is good, and punish what is bad, it is not by any means a good criteria for determining what is good or bad.

Unborn Victims of Violence Act (2004)

Second, my opponent states that (he/she) considers life to begin at conception, but fails to explain why they believe that, or what relevance it has regarding whether abortion is moral or immoral. Assuming we can classify the moment of conception as the start of life, that holds very little persuasion over this topic. Simply being "alive" without having noted any other distinguishing features (perhaps consciousness, nervous-system or person-hood as a few examples of such features) still puts you in the same class as plant-life, of which I imagine very few people would debate the morality of ending. Note that my argument is not being heartless or callous, just that you made a jump between "life beginning at conception" and seeing "fetuses as human in at least this context" with no reasoning in between. Con makes this point again at the end of their argument "All in all ... conception seems to be the smart place to place the beginning of human life...", with no explanation as to why that is a smart place, or what particular relevance that has to the morality of the situation.

Finally, I would like to being into question Cons' mention of a link between abortion and infertility. Not the truthfulness or validity of the claim, but it's implications to (his/her) argument. Lacking any elaboration on why this makes abortion immoral, I will assume that it is because it prevents the possibility of having any future children, since any other reason for including it does not seem relevant to any cases regarding morality. However, Con does not have any qualms with using contraception which also prevents pregnancy (albeit, in a less permanent manner). While becoming infertile would certainly be unfortunate for many people, it is an event which does not have any bearing on morality in a debate concerning abortion. Within the context of this debate as it has been presented so far, it is akin only to a much longer and more unfortunate type of contraception.

Having demonstrated how abortion is not immoral, it is time to start considering the ways in which abortion could be considered moral. As mentioned earlier, my opponent has given me a good start, already setting the precedent in the case of rape, and the choice between the lives of the baby and the mother. With these already permitted, the most difficult part of my argument has already been done for me - all that is left is to find why these cases are permissible, and if it can be applied to more cases.

So why is abortion is the case of rape permissible? Primarily, because of the incredible and unexpected burden it places on the mother physically, emotionally and financially. There is very little doubt that pregnancy is quite a commitment - a life long one, in fact. Although I mentioned three separate types of burden placed on the mother after any type of pregnancy, let alone an unwanted and unexpected one, it should not be supposes that they exist independently from each other; rather, they combine in complex ways such that if any one is lacking, it may have profound effects on the other.
Supposing the mother is incapable of supporting the now-fetus and future-child in any of these ways, the path of refusing abortion purely for the morality of the situation is causing the greatest possible unhappiness for no tangible reason.

But what if we suppose that the case was not rape, but unintentional pregnancy (perhaps through carelessness)? Or perhaps the mother was in a place to provide these necessities at the time of conception, but unforeseen circumstances in the early stages of pregnancy change her ability to provide one, or all of these things? The burdens placed on the mother are no different, and the consequences of not being able to satisfy those burdens are just as potentially severe for both parties. There is no discernible reason to assert that the morality of abortion has changed purely because of how conception was achieved. The future for the child and mother are potentially identical in this case as it is in the case of rape or misfortune, and the potential future of the unborn child is what the morality concerning abortion is all about.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for deciding to take up the opposition, I'm sure this will be an interesting few rounds yet, I'm sure. I was more than a bit tired when I wrote that argument, but hopefully I'll be able to recover ground here.

I would first like to clarify why I made those two concessions, the first, a lack of prevention or choice before pregnancy. This was thrust upon her quite literally with 0 safety measures against an unwanted pregnancy, it should not be hard to see why this position is tenable, I'm not arguing that it is ok to abort a baby that was merely by accident, in the context of consensual, unprotected sex, because they had a good opportunity to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, chose not to take it, and now they must suffer the consequences, rather than the fetus. Second of all, I maintain that it is ok to abort a baby if the mother's life is threatened, because there is no guarantee the baby will live, and lacks any sort of life to leave behind, whereas the mother very well could have a life already set up for herself.

I agree that the comment on the law was probably an unnecessary one as far as ethics goes, and probably not well-read enough and I should've researched further to secure that.

I would consider a human life to begin at conception because that's where you or anyone else say their life began. It's the first place the human is anything identifiably different than the sperm & egg of their parents. Therefore this seems like a good place to mark the beginning of a human being. I would argue that what makes a difference between a human and a plant typically would be sentience, the thing that makes us so different from all the animals. This sentience is what allows us to ponder things and cooperate. My point is, sentient beings are treated differently because they are aware of what's happening to them. Now, we have no idea when a creature gains consciousness, although there could be evidence for this being a product of the brain. So therefore, we should treat fetuses at the very least with the beginnings of a developed brain, because it could be conscious of what's happening to it.

The difference between abortion and contraception, is that abortion may cause permanent infertility, whereas contraception is planned out, and no human life is being directly killed.

Supposing that a mother does get pregnant, if it was by accident they really should've planned better. I mean, it might sound harsh, but unless a condom broke or something along those lines, only stupidity would be the reason why they ended up pregnant, because not preventing something preventable that you don't want to happen is just plain stupid. And also, the life of the child.

Every child deserves the right to live, as it would violate the pursuit of happiness, as well as it just should be a basic right that if you are conceived, you should be allowed to live. After all, we were all granted that right.

I conclude my argument, and I await your reply. Thanks!
- Minecraftiscewl


Before I begin my rebuttals for Round 2, I would like to make note again of the two concessions my opponent has already made regarding their own thesis. The first grounds on which abortion would be moral is in the case of rape, and the second is where the life of the mother is at risk - both acceptable and commonly agreed upon instances (however, being Pro in this debate, who am I to say otherwise?). However, this admission has a few other implications, both of which I mentioned in the first round.

The first is that Con has already set a foundation on which a solid argument for the morality of abortion can be argued. Clearly, the objective here is not to prove that abortion is moral in every conceivable case, since even the most moral of actions can be immoral in certain contexts, but instead to demonstrate that there are situations in which abortion can be the moral choice. This has already been achieved, if not by my persuasion, then by my opponents' own.
The second is that it set a precedent for other situations in which the same (or similar) consequences or causes can be applied to highlight the moral grounds for abortion. Those consequences or causes including unwanted, forced pregnancy, and potential for severe harm or death of the mother (Pro), as well as the physical, financial and/or emotional destruction of the mother from the enormous demands of raising a child.

Now, there's a hidden gem in my opponents' second paragraph in Round 2:

"...because they had good opportunity to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, chose not to take it, and now they must suffer the consequences, rather than the fetus."

An interesting notion of justice, if not rather short-sighted. Ignoring whether or not the mother-to-be actually deserves to "suffer the consequences", there are more parties who are liable to suffer as well. From an emotional standpoint, the father-to-be must provide considerable emotional support, and must be dedicated to the well-being and nurturing of this baby, then child, then teenager as well (assuming we don't have the case of an absent father). But perhaps my opponent would place him in the same boat as the mother, since he shares the same blame. But there is also the extended emotional burden on close or (to a lesser degree) family. If the mother or father can not provide, what they lack could be placed on the family, who surely took no part in this mistake.
The same argument can be applied financially, only we extend that one even further. Supposing that the family simply can not afford to keep the child once born, who does that cost pass on to? The hospital until further arrangements are made? The State or a private orphange? Certainly no argument can be made that they deserve to suffer the consequences.
Or finally, and perhaps most importantly, the repercussions on a child who is born without the possibility of financial support, or into a family who may not (or can not) provide emotional support, both of which lead to the inhibition of child growth and development and can lead to serious mental and emotional problems well into adult life.

I'll begin the next rebuttal by posting a definition:

"Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively." - Wikipedia. I use this definition because many alternatives use the extra term "conscious" which will just lead us into ambiguity and further subjectivity, so I believe this will serve our purpose. Considering that Con proposed consciousness is likely related to the formation of the brain, and that sentience certainly could not exist without some form of consciousess (considering it requires feeling, perception or subjective experience - or what it is like to "be" something, for you fans of Nagel), we could suppose beyond a reasonable degree of certainty that before at least 5 weeks into the Gestation Period (source below), there could be no sentience, and therefore no distincion between humans and plants by Cons own definition.
And I would certainly agree. While an Embryo marks the beginnings of the development of distinct human-like features such as organs and basic body shape, we could no say the same about earlier stages in development such as the Blastocyst or the even earlier Zygote. Perhaps life has began, but other than its potential (more about that in a moment) to become human, it is nothing more than life. It is not Homo-Sapiens, and it has not attained person-hood - indeed, it is nearly indistinguishable from a plant in that it has the potential for growth, and not much else.

To counter a possible rebuttal that potential to become human is enough to warrant an inalienable right to life, I would like to propose that mere potential (especially as abstract from actualising it as a Zygote is), is an extremely tenuous justification. And how far back need we go for this potential to dissipate? Any developed sperm or egg has some potential to become a fully actualised human, and not only of the generation immediately before the Zygote, but the sperm or egg in the human generation before has some tiny degree of potential to create a new human two generations down the line. But this is an extremely tenuous connection, and admittedly more so than the Blastocyst, but it brings to light where we choose our arbitrary point of where actual, human life begins.

I would go into the remaining passages, but I believe that these were either covered by what I have already written here, or by points made in Round One.
Debate Round No. 2


Minecraftiscewl forfeited this round.


As you can see in the comment section, my opponent has conceded defeat, which is commendable. You don't often see such an admission from somebody in a Philosophical debate, much less online.
I would like to thank my opponent for presenting me with my first proper debate on, as my literal first debate saw the opponent forfeit every round without present any arguments, whereas Minecraftiscewl presented me with the sort of challenge this site is all about.

And with that, let's begin the voting!
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Minecraftiscewl 3 years ago
I concede my side to the opponent, your arguments make sense, I was partially attempting to see if I could possibly justify my own opinions on abortion, and your counterarguments make sense, I'll see my way out now, thanks for the debate!
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