The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

abortion should be illegal in first trimester, but not investigated nor punished*

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/27/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,003 times Debate No: 58236
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




*aside from rape and mother's health, abortion should be illegal in the first trimester, but not investigated nor punished.

given there are no legal consequences involved, these are more about arguments on principle.

abortion should be illegal, because we should recognize that we should be giving the benefit of the doubt to human life. it is clear enough that we should outlaw it, but not clear enough that we should be punishing them. for example, to establish the uncertainty, note that a snowball is not a snow man, and a lego is not lego man. same could be argued for the cell in early pregnancy. at what point does a lego or snowball become the corresponding man? it's unclear there, as it could be said to be with personhood. but, on the other hand, the earliest cell does meet the requirements for what would constitute an 'organism', albeit it would probably be viewed as more like a parasitic organism given it must live off of the mother. and it's not like every other cell, given not every other cell can grow into a person. the pro and con about human life here are enough to say in principle we should defer to human life, but not clear enough to make any meaningful punishments for it.
human life is such a strong factor to be weighed, that it is not unreasonable for a person to be against abortion, and want to punish so as to deter and for justice's sake. but, i would not go that far. i would take that same reasoning, though, and argue that it's such a strong consideration, that it should at least be illegal, albeit with no legal consequences.
and the last reason it should be illegal in principal, is because the mother assumed the risk of pregnancy. having sex is something that can result in pregnancy. it's not like it just happened, getting pregnant, out of no where.
another reason why we shouldn't punish is deferment. while we are deferring to human life, we are respecting the autonomy of the woman involved. given there is uncertainty, who should decide? should the government decide? why not give the autonomy to decide to the person most affected by it, the mother?
plus,there are uncertainties involved, but there are other considerations as well. while the mother assumed the risk of pregnancy, she may have tried her best not to get pregnant, and got pregnant anyways. things happen, plus she has a lot of other things to consider like making sure she can hold down a job, or continue in school. or maybe she's poor and doesn't want to bring another kid into the mix. the common arguments in favor of abortion should be used here, as holistic approach to why she should be able to decide given the various moral considerations involved. but again, this stuff is just sufficient so as to not make legal consequences for the abortion, but not enough to make it legal.


I feel like there wasn't any formalized argumentation from my opponent to start this debate, so I fee like this is a chance for me to present an opening statement of sorts that explains where my argumentation in this debate is going to go.

Abortion is a subject that people simply refuse to agree to disagree upon. Thus, I feel that this is an important debate. I look forward to seeing what argumentation my opponent plans to provide.

In negating this resolution I will argue specifically that the legality of an action comes form the idea that one's rights end where another's begin. This is a basic legal philosophy constructed by John Stuart Mills and is where we justify legal principles and laws. Using this conception of the law and justice, I will argue that abortion should not be illegal in the sense that abortion does not infringe upon a fetus' rights (if they indeed have any) in such a manner that it constitutes law to prevent it.

I will explain this more fully in my further argumentation. Good luck to my opponent. I look forward to debating such an important issue with you.
Debate Round No. 1


im not sure why con says i haven't provided argumentation. my first post was beginning to end argumentation.

con gives a decent standard for how we should create our laws. one's right ends where another's begins. but this is the point, that it could be applied to the abortion debate. personhood is hard to pinpoint, legally, and at least morally, which is the main point in defining our laws. so, as a matter of deference to not wanting to kill people, we should ban abortion. but we recognize the moral ambiguities, and other considerations i gave in my first post, and make the laws have no legal consequence.


I hope my opponent will not hold the fact that I did not post any fully expanded argumentation in the former post. Usually, the first round is saved for acceptance and some sort of opening statements. However, as my opponent would like to consider those his arguments, we can go from there.

Really, all in all, the argumentation that my opponent claims come from the first speech is unsubstantiated. The Pro here has provided a great number of claims that are not supported by an real evidence or theory that binds them together and makes them substantial in the debate. At this point, I feel it is rather clear that the Pro has not fulfilled his BOP and therefore, you should vote for the Con in this instance. Even when presented with the opportunity in the second round, he provides only rebuttal to points that I have yet to make.

So, with the preceding conclusion that you, the judge, are going to vote for the Con, let me further explain why abortion should not only be legal in the first trimester but is also morally permissible.

From both his Round 1 and Round 2, we can conclude that the main claim coming from the Pro is that there is no way to easily identify person-hood. How it thus follows that abortion should be illegal in the first trimester is beyond me, but let us continue.

I vehemently disagree with this claim that person-hood is difficult to determine. We must determine that personhood is achieved at viability. This is a point that is determined far past the first trimester (approximately 28 weeks). At the point where a fetus is viable, it is certain that it is a person and deserves all the rights and duties afforded to any other human. As John Stuart Mill explains in his work On Liberty [1] the Harm Principle justifies a restriciton on one's liberty only when the excerices of that liberty infringe upon another's liberty. In the case of abortion, it cis clear that if a fetus is not a person, because it lacks viability during he firt trimester, we must agree that the act of abortion does not infringe uon the rights of anotherhuman being. Thus, we can conclude that it iwould be unjust of a government to institute restrcictions on abortion given those definitions.

Further, when we look to Judith Jarvis Thomson's explanations in her marvelous essay A Defense of Abortion, regardless of the personhood of a fetus, there is no way that we can intuitively defend abortion restrictions as a matter of defending life. Simply put, there is always an answer to situations that would not justify abortion. What we have to recogniz is that a fetus does not have the irght to use a mother's body. Even if we assume that a fetus is the exact equal of a full grown human being, and has the rights thereof, we must realize that the fetus is--in a sense--a guest of the mother's womb and body. Thus, the fetus has no rights that trump the mother's right ot her own body. Thompson argues for this point by giving the example of a burglar. Even if a person engages in risky activity by livin in a dangerous neighborhood and leaves her door open (or has sexual intercourse without protection) if a burglar enters that person's house (or an egg is fertilized) the person is in no way obligated ot facillitate the needs of the burglar (or provide a comfotable home for a fetus for nine months). The issues here are one and the same. A person's sovereignty over their own body rtrumps any right to life an unfeeling clump of cells has, even if you afford that clump of cells the exact same rights as a human being--a point that my opponent has failed to argue.

Thus, at the point where a women does not give consent for an infant to use her body, the fetus has no right to the women's body. Thus a government regulation on the performing of abortion is an exact rejection of the principle that youmy opponent praises in his second speech. He likes the idea that we should not establish regulations other than those that are in defense of another's liberties and prevent the infringement on them by others. However, after praising that idea, my opponent does not reject the idea that a law shod be instituted that would make it illegal (though not pursuable) for a woman to have an abortion. Thus, they are, in essence, forcing a woman to endure an infringement upon her rights to her body rather than defending her against it.

My opponent is going to try, in his last attempt to defend his position, that the law is not enforcable and, therefore, the consequences of this law are not as I portray them. However, you as a judge must realize this: if there was a law (unenforcable and un-investigable, of course) that made being *[insert Race, Gender, Religion].* Would not it be our duty to rebel against that law? Would not it be unjust for a government to institute such a law, even if it were only ceremonial. An act of governmental condemnation, even if it is not punishable, is still a governmental condemnation. At one point in time, it may be enforcable. And at the point where we recognize that it would be unjust for a government to enforce a law of such kind we must reject the idea of a ceremonial law that states the same thing illegal.

Thus, we must reject the resolution. Abortion during the first trimester must neve4r be made illegal. Thank you. Please vote for the Con.
Debate Round No. 2


i don't know how con can so flagrantly act as if i haven't met my BOP. morals are something that are not like quantitivative analysis. it is more nebulous. it it inherent. value.
at best BOP in this argument ,ist just a matter of who is more convincing. i can understand if con thinks im less persuative, but my impression is that he is acting as if there's something more quantitative that i'm missing. for a moral argument, though, i'm hitting all the high points.

"claim coming from the Pro is that there is no way to easily identify person-hood. How it thus follows that abortion should be illegal in the first trimester is beyond me, but let us continue. "

i said that we should defer to human life. that's how it follows that i think it should illegal, even if not easily identifiable. again, con seems to be missing the points im arguing. he can disagree, but he seems to be acting as if there's more i'm not addressing, that i in fact am addressing.

con argues that viability is the magic point for pesonhood. i admit it removes an element of arbitariness given it has a firm standard for what constitutes a person. but there are no moral reasons why we couldn't push personhood further back earlier into the pregnancy. i admit first trimester is arbitrary, but my main point s that it should be earlier in pregnancy, more a frame of refenence.
let's examine con's magic line a little more. viability starts when con says. what about a week before viability? it's hard to argue it's not a person, just that it's not a person who can sustain their own life. perhaps this is sufficient for a secular mindset to not grant rights to that person, but there's no necessary moral reasons we coud'nt go further back. or, take the lego and snowball analogy. anyone would recognize that a snowball and lego are not their corresponding men, but anyone would also recognize that some snowballs and legos short of a man is still a man, just not a complete man. it's a fuzzy line in between. but, in the abortion issue, as i elaborated earlier, there are distuiguisments like it being an organism and being able to grow itself, unlike other cells. a snowball that grew itself into a snowman would indeed be a unque situation, and we couldnt apply our snowball snowman anaolgy so forthrightly. again, as stated, this then is an issue of deference to human life.

con argues the fetus has no rights to the mother's body. he didn't address my 'assumption of the risk' point, at least directly. the mother assumed the risk of getting pregnant. as the pregnancy continues, she assumes the issue more and more by not abortin when it's at least morally grayer. and for an analogy counter to con's, what if someone were to cause an accident, and the victim were attached to the wrong doers body? no sane person would argue that the wrong doer should be able to kill the victim.
to con's anaology... it's too imperfect. a burglar is an intruder. not a possibile risk that the woman accepts by being sloppy with her door open. with sex, the woman must understand that she is causing a sitaution where someone, at least a putative someone, will become dependant upon her for actions that she took. she did more than passive sloppy behavior. she took proactive steps to facilitate the consequnces.
i suppose we could take these standards being argued by myself and con as blurry. 'proactive steps to facilitate the consequence' and 'being sloppy'. but if this were a trial by jury, the jury would have to interpret what a prenancy should constiute.... something akin to what i'm arguing, or soemthing akin to what con is arguing. i dont see how con thinks the best interpretation is his guidelines, cause it is just contrary to good sensibilities of interptation and application. there's a matter of degree, how far the woman took the actions that led to the result, etc.
plus, if i were to want to get technical and play dirty, it's not like burglars are without rights. there's been times when a burglar was climbing onsomeone's roof, fell through the glass ceiling, landed on a knife, sued the homeowner, and won. not saying it was right, just aruing in a more dirty way that it's not always so black and white like con would like us to think.

unlike con suggests i will do, i'm not going to argue that we should overlook the law's principle, merely because the effects make it of no consequence. i wholeheartedly agree that the principle of hte matter should prevail in this matter. it's just a matter where he and i must disagree. and i would like to jab, with him doing a less than stellar job at it. (he argues very capably, i just dont think the ultimate conclusion he makes is the most sensible and just consideration of all the factors involved)


*Citations for last speech in comments, they didn't copy!*

First, I am going to ffer some brief argumentation to the points that my opponent brought up in his final speech. Then, I will break down this round, and show you, the judge, why this round is an easy vote for the Con.

To quickly address the BOP argmentation, there is nothing that the Pro has provided that really substantially answers the question of why we should accept this rather vague notion that it should be illegal to have an abortion during the first tri-mester but that this law should not be pursued. This seems like the kind of plan that one would submit for decriminalizing marijuana or drugs or some other practice that is already against the law. My point here is that, throughout the argumentation you have been presented with, there is really no substantiation as to why we should follow this sort of plan. Thus, given that you should automatically default to the Con.

My opponent begins his "arguments" with this idea that values and arguments about morals are not quantitative. The pro argues that there is inherent value.

This argument is at best confusing and at worst a deliberate attempt to completely obfuscate the field of philosophy. There are thousands of people who have spent their lives in pursuit of universal truths about value. The truth is that we have not found that, but that does not mean that value and morals are this vague notion that cannot be figured out.

Moving on: again, my opponent tries to obfuscate issues. The pro in their last speech attempts to liken the personhood argument by claiming that viability is like a snowball or a lego...which is just a modified version of the Heap problem. Essentially what my opponent is attempting to argue--not well, but is attempting--is to say that the point of viability is just a "fuzzy line."

This is nonesense. There is a certian biological point where a fetus coluld live outside the womb without assistance. Period. That is the point of viability. That may not be the same for all pregnancies, but that point of viability is an instance. It is not some vague notion like the heap. Thus, the idea that there is this arbitrariness to viability is obliterated.

Then, in this same argumentation, the Pro offers this idea that the trimester marik is arbitrary as well. Based on Pro's own logic, if there is an arbitrary natuyre to ths point of the first trimester, then you should bvote for the side that avoids being arbitrary--thus warranting a vote for the Con.

On this rather bizarre argument from the Pro that if there is an accident that attaches a victim to a wrong-doers body, no would would argue that the wrong doer should kill the innocent victim. First of all, this seems to be a bizzare twist of Judith Jarvis Thomson's violinist example. But this argument fails for a number of reasons. First, in the matter of a pregnancy, a woman contemplating abortion is not a wrong-doer. The act of having sex is not inherently wrong. Thus, this analogy breaks down.

As a last-ditch effort, the Pro attempts to characterize Thomson's burglar analogy as faulty by saying that leaving a door open in a dangerous neighborhood is not tantamount the act of having sex. My opponent says that this is a "passive" and "sloppy" behavior, but that it does not constitute the active action of having sex. However, if we further look at this point, the act of leavingt one's door open is active. The act of not instituting protections is active. Primarily, we must see that there really is no such thing as a passive action. Just like thte act of omitting action is an action, so too is passive action active action. However, even if you don't buy this distinction, the Pro does not argue how this negates the idea that a fetus does not posses rights to its mother's body. Thus, once this is concluded, we have one final nail in the Pro's coffin.

Breaking down the round quickly.

S/G: Pro does not use capitalization or any sort of spell check. Just copy/paste this debate into a word document and see the difference. I urge a vote for the Con for S/G out of sheer lack of trying from the pro.

Sourcing: The Con provides solid philosophical reasoning and sourcing for the arguments. Pro provides no sourcing.

Arguments: You have seen above that there really is no BOP upheld. The Pro provides no solid reasoning as to why we should accept this resolution. All reasoning seems to be that abortion is bad, but he does not fulfill BOP as far as arguing for the resolution. Please vote for Con here.

Conduct: No rounds are dropped, but I think it is clear from the quality of the debate, the argumentation, and the spelling and grammar that the Pro made a mockery of this debate. There is no formalized argumentation and the BOP is not upheld. I urge a vote for Con here simply because the Pro made little to no effort in attempting to prove this rather interesting resolution.

Once again, thank you for reading! Please vote con!
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Manastacious 7 years ago
I realize that, for some reason, some of my citations did not get included. They are cited here in the comments. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Posted by sengejuri 7 years ago
If there are no investigations or connsequences for breaking a law, then is it really a law?
Posted by dairygirl4u2c 7 years ago
i take pride in it, not because it is so great, but because it sucks so bad.....
Posted by socratits 7 years ago
I am really impressed with your debate ratio dairy.
Posted by DeletedUser 7 years ago
Maybe I'll accept the debate. I don't think abortion should be legal unless the women's life is in danger if she carries the baby to term. Even if the baby is a rape result it will is valuable and it's still a innocent baby.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TruthHurts 7 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Easy Con ballot. Con provided comprehensive argumentation regarding the rights claim of a fetus from several perspectives, demonstrating repeatedly that the fetus does not have a substantive rights claim to life that should be protected by law. Pro attempts to use philosophy and morality, but does so in a way that only adds to the confusion of the round, which Con rightly points out. Either way, Pro in no way comes remotely close to demonstrating that fetuses have rights that should be protected, so Con wins. As a side note, I am surprised that Con did not point out the difficulties that arise when a system of laws is enacted without any attempt of enforcement.

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