The Instigator
cello242
Con (against)
The Contender
ABoleman
Pro (for)

The Abortion Debate

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/2/2018 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 514 times Debate No: 118013
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (12)
Votes (0)

 

cello242

Con

I will be defending two main assertions.

(1) There are good arguments that a fetus is a person and therefore has the right to live.

(2) There are no comparably good arguments that a fetus is not a person and/or is able to be justifiably killed via abortion.

Rather than beat a dead horse, I will wait for my opponent to present his/her argument before defending my second main assertion.

For the first assertion I would first like to point out that person is a moral term. It refers to a member of our moral community (therefore deserving consideration).

I argue that a fetus is a person based on the following argument

1. All human beings living from conception to brain death are persons
2. A fetus is a human being that is living post-conception and before brain death
3. A fetus is a person

To defend the first premise of my first argument I offer these scientific facts:

Life begins at the point of conception, And science confirms this. The zygote differs on a molecular level from both its parents and every other organism on earth. It also differs in behavior from the individual gametes, Preventing additional sperm from entering the cell within the first thirty minutes after conception. Based on the difference of behavior and molecular structure the most reasonable conclusion is that the zygote in question is not a cell of the mother's body, Rather an individual human cell of its own.

It is also not merely another human cell, Rather an organism. Let me explain. A human cell can differ between heart cells, Skin cells, Stomach cells, Etc. But an organism exhibits different behavior. The zygote begins constructing its own body, Using the resources provided by its mother. This process is organized and purposeful, Rather than random and chaotic behavior exhibited by a common tumor. Therefore we can conclude from this that the zygote from conception onward is a human organism or human being.

Since the zygote is a human being it deserves person-hood, Due to its state of being alive. Any differences between the zygote and human beings after birth would not affect the state of its person-hood.

This defends the first premise of the previous argument. Since the second premise is fairly straightforward we can lead to the conclusion with minimal effort, Namely

A fetus is a person

This would lead to the structure of my second argument

1. The unjustified killing of a person is homicide
2. A fetus is a person
3. Abortion is the unjustified killing of a fetus
4. Abortion is homicide

Since I have already established my argument in supporting premise two, I will start with premise three.

Abortion: the termination of a pregnancy after, Accompanied by, Resulting in, Or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus

This definition (provided by Merriam-Webster) establishes that Abortion is a medical procedure designed to terminate a pregnancy by the intentional killing of the fetus.

Why is it unjustified?

The justification would come from woman's liberty. If she wants to terminate her pregnancy, Shouldn't that justify it? Unfortunately, It does not. However powerful the desire for abortion may be, The abortion process takes away a fetus's right to life, Which is required for the rights of liberty, And pursuit of happiness. Also, Killing another born human being is already a right no one has in the first place, It shouldn't make a difference of their size, Age, Structure, Development, Viability, Environment, Etc. In whether it can be killed or not.

Abortion takes all three unalienable rights away from the person in question (the fetus). On basis no one should be able to choose to take someone's life deliberately.

This is my starting defense of premise three, And, If standing, Proceeds to the conclusion.

Abortion is Homicide

Thanks to my opponent, Whoever they may be for participating in this debate. I am very excited to hear your best arguments for your position and to embark on this exciting dialogue.

If you want to see the article where I gathered my facts in supporting the first premise of my first argument, Here is the link

https://lozierinstitute. Org/a-scientific-view-of-when-life-begins/
ABoleman

Pro

Hello Con,

Thank you for creating this debate and I hope to have a respectful argument with you despite being on opposining sides.

I would like to state that a fetus is most certainly not a "person". Science defines life, And a zygote/fetus is life sure, But this life does not differ from plants and bacteria despite the fact that it could potentially become a human. Potentially being the key word here. Despite the zygote having distinctive characteristics, It is not at all equatable to a viable, Living sentient human being. In fact, Not only does it rely on someone"s body to continue on, But it also does not have the brain development or central nervous system to feel or think anything at all.

So while I agree that a zygote is not simply a cell, I disagree that it is a person or human-being by your terms Many things are alive, So? A fetus is NOT a person. There are many situations in which the person carrying the fetus deserves to make that choice and not be forced to carry. Therefore your second argument is irrelevant Abortion takes away no rights from a person, As a fetus/ zygote has no rights nor personhood. Abortion is not homicide. .
Debate Round No. 1
cello242

Con

Hello Pro,
Thank you for being my interlocutor in this debate and thank you for posting your objections to my opening statement. I deeply hope that this will be a great exercise for the both of us, And will have an exciting and respectful dialogue.

I would like to address the objections you posted in your previous argument

1. A zygote/fetus is life sure, But this life does not differ from plants and bacteria despite the fact that it could potentially become a human. Potentially being the key word here.

First you said that it doesn't differ from plants and bacteria. I am going to take this objection as that it doesn't differ in person-hood between plants and bacteria, Which are clearly not persons. If not please correct me, But I will answer this objection after answering the second part of your counter-argument.

You said that a zygote could potentially become a human. I would like to refer to my opening statement my distinctions between a human cell and a human organism. The zygote differs in behavior from any other human cell, Organizing and constructing its own body with purpose I said, Making it a human organism or human being. This is paraphrasing from the article I listed.

Link to article again: https://lozierinstitute. Org/a-scientific-view-of-when-life-begins/

This is consensus is for the proposition of a fetus being a human being, Not potentially human.

Now as for the similarities between plants and bacteria and a zygote, This is only due to the appearances (similar of a bacterium) of a zygote, And the development.

Appearances certainly don't determine person-hood, So I will move on to level of development.

If development determines person-hood, What level of development would you say determines person-hood? Is it at the point of sentience or sometime else? I would like to hear your thoughts, But I don't see why level of development would matter in terms of person-hood.

Now for the answer to your second objection

2. Despite the zygote having distinctive characteristics, It is not at all equatable to a viable, Living sentient human being.

We have already agreed that the zygote is alive, And I have already answered why it is a human being, So I will focus this counter-argument on the words viable and sentient.

Now, A human being's viability is not a determinant of person-hood. Let me explain.

If you want to view person-hood as static (a word I am going to use for arguments' sake) or strictly having person-hood or not, Then if some human being is not viable it is not a person. This has a big problem. On this view if someone falls into a coma and lose their viability they lose their person-hood and no longer deserve our moral consideration because having lost their person-hood they don't have membership in our moral community. Then if they wake up they gain their person-hood again, Which doesn"t make sense.

Regarding sentience

I am going to take this in the same terms that Peter Singer does: the ability to feel pleasure and pain, Which would rule out any fetus younger than at least 28 weeks.

In response to this I offer the following thought experiment: Sent-Anni

On the planet of Neo there are a people called the Sent-Anni

These are aliens that look quite similar to human beings but they have one major difference.

After reaching the age of sixty, Their ability to feel pleasure and pain completely diminishes. If you cut them they feel nothing and if you make a joke they can't laugh.

The government requires by law those of the age of sixty or over to be delivered into their custody.

They are either

1. Executed humanely in order to harvest their organs and save the lives of patients who need organ transplants.

Or

2. Brought to an arena where they fight to the death in an extremely popular gladiator event, Where all profits are used to fund the building of various homeless shelters, And the spread of reliable government well-fare programs.

Not trying to sound too negative in this experiment but the question remains.

Did the government do anything wrong?

This thought experiment is merely meant to illustrate that person-hood is not derived from sentience. It doesn't matter whether or not you can feel pleasure or pain in order to be deserving of moral consideration.

Thanks again for participating, Back to you.

Here is the works cited for the article I mention, Just in order to not plagiarize.

Condic, Maureen. "A Scientific View of When Life Begins. " Charlotte Lozier Institute, Lozier Institute, 11 June 2014, Lozierinstitute. Org/a-scientific-view-of-when-life-begins/.
ABoleman

Pro

Hello,

You are correct when assuming my comparing a fetus to plants and bacteria is in regards to personhood, Consciousness, Etc. I know they are not literally the same thing, I was just using that as a comparison. My argument is not that a fetus or zygote is not alive, We both agree here. I am saying there is a major difference in being biologically alive than having personhood, Which is what I meant by having the potential to become a human being, My apologies if my wording is confusing. For example, If you could only save one, Would you save a baby or would you save a fetus? Almost every person will answer baby because there is a clear distinction here. On the contrary, Most people would save a child before an adult if they could only save one, So this moral and philosophical question has nothing to do with level of development but instead a level of personhood and what constitutes being a "human-being" in this sense. Another example of this distinction is the fact that there are currently just as many miscarriages, If not more, Than abortions (usually first trimester miscarriages aka spontaneous abortions). While it is sad for a woman to lose a fetus that she intends on carrying, It is not equatable to a woman having a stillborn or losing a child post partnum.

Scientists still cannot even reach a definitive concensus on personhood, However many define it as the state of having consciousness, Feelings (physical or emotional), Being self-aware, Etc. It"s not so much about level of development but there is a threshold and a fetus does not have a functional central nervous system nor is capable of displaying brain activity until roughly the end of the second trimester.

A person in a coma while they are currently not displaying personhood, Has already had personhood. They legally and morally have rights at this point and these rights should be considered. For this same reason, We have rights even after we are deceased. If I am not an organ donor and I were to get into a tragic car accident and die tomorrow, Nobody can take my organs from me even though I am dead, Even if it will save someone"s life. Also, If someone is in a coma for an extended period of time, A family member or spouse has every right to pull the plug because unfortunately despite the person technically being alive by breathing tube, They no longer possess the ability to make that decision for themselves. Furthermore, Even this example falls short because I have never, Ever seen a case where someone in a coma had to live off of someone else"s body to survive and the sentient person was forced to have them live off of them. If fetuses could live outside of the mothers womb without her being forced to carry, We would not even be having this debate.

Regarding the aliens, I mean we are talking about aliens here but I will entertain it. I would say that the government was wrong because personhood (or alienhood? Lol) is a combination of a few factors not just sentience. The aliens are born individuals, Despite not feeling pain and pleasure, Are they self aware? Are they able to make decisions? Are they conscious? Are they viable and not reliant on another alien"s body for merely existing? If the answer to these is yes, Then they should not be executed unless they consent to it (I am also pro assisted suicide when quality of life has been deemed unbearable due to a severe disability or deadly diagnosis). As far as the second option is concerned, I would say it is also unjust because I don"t believe that death should be made into a public spectacle for entertainment, Even if the profits were to go to a greater good. Likewise, If abortion clinics were selling tickets to watch abortions be performed while people cheered in the background I would also be against it, Even if the profits went to good causes.

Ultimately a zygote or fetus before 28 weeks is not equal to a baby and does not have personhood despite being alive. While I would like to see abortion rates continue to decrease (as they have been in the last decade) I support a woman"s choice in the matter because what she does with her own body comes before a fetus for many reasons. Carrying a fetus is not just a simple feat. It changes her body, It"s hard on her mentally, It can be risky (the US for example has the highest maternal mortality rate in developed countries), It can be extremely expensive and there are some circumstances where it may be necessary. It"s not a black and white issue at all and I will never support taking away a woman"s right to choose and forcing her to carry to term despite the negative affects it may have on her or risk that she will look for other and more dangerous methods.
Debate Round No. 2
cello242

Con

Hello pro,
Let's start off with making a distinction. I am using the scientific facts to prove that the zygote is a human being, Not a person. I am arguing that it is a person via arguments and reasoning.

For your first argument

"I am saying there is a major difference in being biologically alive than having person-hood"

I agree, Even though plants and bacteria are biologically alive they are not persons. The question is, Are there any differences between a fetus and a baby that would determine one to be a person and the other to not? I argue no given my criteria for person-hood of humans.

For your second argument

"If you could only save one, Would you save a baby or a fetus? . . . . . . . . . So this moral and philosophical question has nothing to do with level of development but instead a level of personhood and what constitutes being a "human-being" in this sense. "

In response to the first part, The outcome of a moral impulse is not a determinant of truth. For example if you could save one, Would you save 100 adults or your own child? In a split second decision, Most parents would choose their own child without a second thought. This moral impulse would choose the child, But that does not make it the most ethical decision nor does it conclude that a child is worth more than 100 adults.

In response to the second part, I am glad that you agree with me that this question of person-hood has nothing to do with level of development. In referring to my previous rebuttal to your claim that zygotes are similar to bacteria and plants, If we both agree that neither appearances nor level of development determine person-hood (the two physical similarities between the two that I pointed out), Then we could conclude that zygotes cannot be compared to plants and bacteria in terms of person-hood even as examples and thus return under my criteria of person-hood for humans.

Also, I am sorry if my wording is confusing, But human-being is not the same term as person. I am arguing that all human beings are persons, But they are not the same term.

For your third argument

"It's not so much about level of development but there is a threshold and a fetus does not have a functional central nervous system nor is capable of displaying brain activity until roughly the end of the second trimester. "

So the argument being that since the fetus does not display brain activity or a central nervous system it is therefore not a person. This criterion of brain activity displays many problems.

One, It would include a lot of beings that we would not regard as persons. For example owls, Guinea pigs, Cockroaches, Rats, Etc. Are all persons under this criterion because they all display brain activity.

More importantly (I am going to apply fictional characters because they can be quite useful in philosophy) Wall-E, Vision from the Avengers, Groot from Guardians of a Galaxy, Bob from Monsters Vs. Aliens, Etc. Would all be counted out as persons even though they display all of the same characteristics of beings we would all regard as persons.

For your fourth

"A person in a coma while they are currently not displaying personhood, Has already had personhood. They legally and morally have rights at this point and these rights should be considered. For this same reason, We have rights even after we are deceased. If I am not an organ donor" Nobody can take my organs from me even though I am dead, Even if it will save someone"s life. "

As I understand this, You would agree that the person in a coma has lost his or her person-hood, But since they had person-hood in the past they should still be considered and have rights. However this contradicts your next statement.

"Also, If someone is in a coma for an extended period of time, A family member or spouse has every right to pull the plug because unfortunately despite the person technically being alive by breathing tube, They no longer possess the ability to make that decision for themselves. "

You would conclude that the person no longer possesses the right to live and can be killed according to the will of his or her family members due to the loss of his or her person-hood.

Furthermore, You would grant more rights to a corpse even though they display no brain activity or the potential in the future than a person in a coma or a fetus even though both have cognitive function (even if it is on a cellular level).

I argue that since the person in a coma is the same person before the coma and after if they come out of it, They are still persons. This is why I argue that viability is not a determinant of person-hood. Under this example, The criterion doesn"t hold up. There are other examples of humans who are clearly persons, But under the criterion of viability would not be considered persons such as.

People with insulin pumps

People with artificial hearts

People with supplemental oxygen

They are not viable; they are completely dependent on these different machines to survive. They cannot survive on their own, Yet are unarguably persons.

Onto your fifth

"personhood (or alienhood? Lol) is a combination of a few factors not just sentience. The aliens are born individuals, Despite not feeling pain and pleasure, Are they self aware? Are they able to make decisions? Are they conscious? Are they viable and not reliant on another alien"s body for merely existing? "

Under these criteria, Young children are not persons as well as fetuses. Children don't become self aware until at least 18 months and cannot make decisions and are still reliant on another person's body even if it is not for everything. I am glad that you agree with me that sentience is not a determinant of person-hood, But I argue that these factors also exclude beings that we would all regard as persons, Too.

And lastly your sixth

"I support a woman"s choice in the matter because what she does with her own body comes before a fetus for many reasons. Carrying a fetus is not just a simple feat. It changes her body, It"s hard on her mentally, It can be risky (the US for example has the highest maternal mortality rate in developed countries), It can be extremely expensive and there are some circumstances where it may be necessary. "

If a fetus is a person (a claim that is still standing at this point), Then none of these would justify killing the fetus. A life comes before physical and mental challenges. The risk of death of the fetus is much higher than the death of the woman. Raising a child is much more expensive but even so killing the child is unethical.

Lastly, Abortion is not necessary, Ever. Most life threatening pregnancies are solved by inducing labor usually in the third trimester. It takes almost 3 days to prepare the cervix for a surgical abortion, Any emergency involving pregnancy would result in the woman"s death before she could get an abortion.

These reasons do not justify the killing of a person. If a fetus is a person then abortion is not justified under these reasons. If a fetus is not a person then it doesn't matter and these reasons hold water. My arguments hold that a fetus is a person and therefore abortion is not justified.

I hope I have responded to the most important arguments, If not all of them. Back to you.
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
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Debate Round No. 5
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Bree2616 2 months ago
Bree2616
Very nicely and respectively captivating arguments on both sides.
Posted by mosc 2 months ago
mosc
Abortion has nothing what so ever to do with Xtian dogmatism.
Posted by cello242 2 months ago
cello242
To: ABoleman

I apologize if I was attacking you in my last speech. I intend only to attack your arguments and not yourself. I sincerely hope I have not been disrespectful in any of my speeches and I hope to finish this debate in respect as well.
Posted by canis 2 months ago
canis
If you can not have an abortion. . Well kill all males and you will be free. .
Posted by canis 2 months ago
canis
Abortion. . . = Free will. .
Posted by mosc 2 months ago
mosc
The declaration abortion = murder, No US Court has ever agreed with this declaration made by activists opposing abortion within the US.
Posted by John_C_1812 2 months ago
John_C_1812
Missmedic, Still none of that describes why all woman must take part in an admission of guilt made by the use of the word abortion. A woman is assuming law of nature by allowing and egg and sperm to continue on its usual course, Yet some woman are insisting a person be given immunity to an admission of guilt by law, An admission of guilt that simply does not have to be made.

Ask a witness a person can file grievance as they are being asked to be witness a declaration of homicide. A filed grievance can also be a verbally spoken objection to the self-incrimination. Just because there is an alibi does not make the self-incrimination of others a right.
Posted by missmedic 2 months ago
missmedic
A fetus is not biologically independent of it's mother because of it's parasitic needs. A pregnant woman cannot hand over her fetus to someone else to take care of, Like she could with a newborn. Further, Pregnancy has a major effect on a woman"s body and emotional state, And every pregnancy carries some risk of serious complication or death. The crucial decision to take on that risk"no matter how small"can only be decided by the pregnant woman herself.
Posted by asta 2 months ago
asta
@missmedic

Children are not fully independent. Does this mean that a woman should have the right to kill them?
Posted by John_C_1812 2 months ago
John_C_1812
The argument of debate stems around if a woman has a right to maintain a natural process of death that already has, And would take place if not for her intervention, And what limits should such liberty have.
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