The Instigator
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The Contender
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the rights of the infant of the womb, should sometimes trump the rights of the mother

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/4/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 884 times Debate No: 56058
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
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the rights of the infant of the womb, should sometimes trump the rights of the mother

at least later in the pregnancy... sometiems infant's rights should trump. a mother assumed the risk of pregnancy, and then, she assumed the risk of carrying the child for many months.

to be clear, i'm focusing on later in pregnancy. but there and earlier, an argument could be made that earlier in the pregnancy she forfeits her right to not be pregnant by assuming that risk. much like... if you cause an accident, and the victim's body is somehow temporarily attachedk to your body, hypothetically speaking... a reasonable person would say the tortfeasor must at least wait a few months until they can be separated.

that analogy could be extended to later in pregnancy, and then topped off with the fact that she didn't bother to terminate when it was more debatable whether it's a person or not. (if it's debatable, who should decide? the governmnet? why not the mother who is more proximite?) when it was morally grayer.

later in the pregnancy though, it's not debatable about personhood. if there's no significant health or life or very very significant emotional problems, aborting the infant in the womb is no different than aborting it when it is born. the only difference, that the mother is hindered, is trumped by the risks she assumed, and that leaves nothing to justify abortion later in the pregnancy if an exception doesn't apply.


I will be arguing that the rights of the fetus should never trump those of the mother. They should either be regarded as equal or lesser.

Instead of directly addressing Pro's points this round, I will save my rebuttals for Round 2 and instead focus on developing my own arguments.

Rights, as most understand, are fundamental properties and abilities that must be respected of all human beings. Where do they come from? Some say God, but this would be flawed reasoning. Since there is no direct proof of a god, there is no direct proof of rights existing. Others say government, but this denies the implications of negative rights and the government's stated purpose to protect rights. The government only recognizes them.
Instead, correct reasoning would lead us to conclude we derive our rights from nature (if we actually have rights- but this discussion is not necessary since they are an assumption in this debate), since they are called natural rights. But do all living things have rights, and if they do, are they equal to ours? I dare say that an amoeba should not be granted equal protection under the law like humans.
Therefore, I can assert that humans derive their rights from our sentience: our ability to think, reason, be conscious, and act autonomously. We can make decisions that are not based purely on instinct.

Now, as stated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, "all men are created equal." This means that the government cannot treat certain people more favorably than others; no one's rights are more important than someone else's. This logically leads to the conclusion that no fetus's rights (assuming it is human and protected by the government) should be held higher than its mother's.

I could end my argument here. This is simple egalitarian thought, and should suffice in convincing a pro-choice audience. However, I would like to further my claim by stating that the mother's rights are more important than the fetus's.

Where does the fetus obtain its life from? The mother. If it is removed from the mother's body, it cannot obtain necessary nutrients and will die. After birth, it is different since the baby can be completely taken away from its mom, be given up for adoption, and never bother the woman again.
However, until then, it is simply a parasite. Pro-lifers like to consider fetuses as separate humans, so I will run with that assumption. This 'person' has attached itself inside a woman and is a drain on her physical and emotional health. It causes lasting damage to her body [1] and has the potential to cause significant pain in childbirth, and can sometimes even kill the mother. It is clearly violating the mother's right to privacy, liberty, life, health and livelihood. It cannot do this without the consent of the mother. The mother is not stripping the child of its right to life by getting an abortion, she is affirming her own rights, since they were violated first by the person's intrusion in her body.

Debate Round No. 1


most of con's points about rights i'd argue are semantics. in a matter of speaking, sure, the baby's rights shouldn't 'trump' the mothers, but be equal to her's. and so on and so on. my only point was that sometimes the rights of the baby mean the woman will not get what she wants.

it's hard to tell if con thinks there should be no restrictions on abortion. is he arguing that the mother should be able to abort even a week before her due date? hardly no one argues this.

but yes there is some philsophical merit to some things he argues, i agree early on the mother should have more rights. it's too much debated whether the baby is a person and such. but later on, and con needs to address these points, the mother can't do so much cause she 1. assumed the risk of pregnancy and 2. didn't abort when it was morally grayer when she had ample opportunity.

how does pro respond to the analogy, if you got in a car accident, caused by you, and the person you hit was somehow attached to you, it woudn't be just in no sense of the word to allow you to kill that person. you caused the accident. she caused the pregnancy. or, she at least allowed the baby to mature into a person, or someone who most would recognize as having rights.
it's not fair to call the baby a parasie, for the same reasons it's not fair to kill someone you're responsible for their condition.


I didn't really feel that I was arguing semantics. I mean, the resolution is clearly about the fetus's rights 'trumping' the mother's. I do not think that a pregnancy is about the mother not getting "what she wants," it is about her rights being put aside to accommodate an unborn child's. No woman should be forced to sacrifice her rights for someone else's sake.
A good analogy is this: A healthy person cannot be forced to give a kidney to someone who needs one; it is part of their body and they must consent. Similarly, a woman cannot be forced to give up her entire body for nine months, either. You may argue that she consented by having sex. However, she consented to simply that: intercourse. Pregnancy cannot result without sexual relations, but a person can engage in intercourse without getting pregnant - chance, birth control, etc. She obviously did not consent in the formal understanding to pregnancy since she is willing to end it.

It doesn't really matter what the implications of my argument are. I am simply arguing that a fetus's rights are not more important than a mother's. But yes, I do think late-term abortions should be legal. It shouldn't matter to voters, though.

"she 1. assumed the risk of pregnancy and 2. didn't abort when it was morally grayer when she had ample opportunity."

1. Another way to tackle this is showing that a risk does not entail consequences in the way my opponent argues. Here is analogy: if you go skydiving, you assume the risk of your parachute not opening. That is inherent in the activity just as pregnancy is with sex. However, if one's parachute does fail, one can simply use the backup chute. Or, he/she can get assistance from a fellow participant. In this way, the skydiver can avoid the consequences (death) of the risk (parachute failure) by seeking an alternative solution (a backup or another person). Similarly, the mother can avoid the consequences (more months of pregnancy or the pain of childbirth) of the risk (sex) by seeking an alternative solution (abortion).

2. This has some merit, but in reality, the government should not legislate morality since morals are often personal and differ between everyone. This is clear in the fact that we are debating abortion. Therefore, moral 'gray' areas should not be subject to empirical laws and limits that take one group's standards and apply them to everyone. It's not fair. The government shouldn't restrict later abortions nor punish those who attempt to obtain them. Additionally, the same case applies where the woman's rights are being subjugated to the fetus's which is unequal treatment and cannot be reasonably sanctioned by law.

In response to the analogy: The difference here is that the person in the hypothetical accident had the same rights as you prior to the accident: life, liberty, health, and so on. The accident caused you to essentially take away his/her rights. Before the analogous accident (sex) the fetus had no rights at all since it didn't even exist. If the hypothetical accident suddenly spawned a person that attached itself to you, I would argue that it should be killed because its very existence is causing your rights to be violated. The other person existed beforehand and therefore was not inherently transgressing.

If there are any points here that my opponent wants to address or wants me to expand upon, I invite her to state so in the next round.
Debate Round No. 2


even in legal jargon, people are held accountable for things that are reasonably foreseeable. a pregnaany is reasonably foreseeable from having sex. the 'assuming the risk' argument in legal jargon encompasses things that are reasonably foreseeable. there's no reason it shouldn't apply here.

the problem with your analogy about the parachute is that using a back up parachute doesn't harm any one else. with abortion, harm to others begins to become an issue. perhaps earlier on, but definitely later on.

the problem with your argument that the government should stay out of debatable issues. i agree, sometimes, that that is the case. autonomy should be best kept at the localest persons most affected etc, but when others are affect it's not so clear. and everyone is different and can draw their own lines. most people, not just me, believe that later term abortions should not involve so much autonomy. this is in supreme court cases, and our laws, all over the country. it's no illogical for con to disagree, but the fact that so many people disagree that there are demarcation points, shows that his 'stay out of the debateable stuff' point shouldn't go as far as he's arguing.
i dont know why con makes the last point about the fetus subjecting the woman with abortion restrictions, as if that's an issue of unequal treatment etc. i assume he refers to equal protection? in any case, the infant has rights too. at least later in the pregnancy. it would be unequal unfair to the infant to not at least eventuially in the pregnancy give it rights.

con argues against my hypothetical about an accident causing another to be attached to you, the accident caused by you. i see no meaningful distinction, though, that the person wronged in the accident did or didn't exist prior to it. all that matters, is that you caused the accident, and now someone's life is dependent upon you for what you did. what does a prior existence matter, when there's an actual life on the line due to the accident you caused?
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Anonymous 7 years ago
I apologize to my opponent for having to forfeit the last round. I wasn't able to submit the last argument for some reason. I'm not sure if it was my computer or the site. Thanks for the debate, though!
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