Resolved: Abortion should remain legal in the US
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With 2 votes and 5 points ahead, the winner is ...
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Many thanks to semperfortis for agreeing to this debate. Since his opponent forfeited the other debate, I thought I could give him a nice challenge to his arguments.
Abortion - the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Should: used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone's actions.
Legal: permitted by law.
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8. The BOP is evenly shared
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10. Rebuttals of new points raised in an adversary's immediately preceding speech may be permissible at the judges' discretion even in the final round (debaters may debate their appropriateness)
11. Violation of any of these rules, or of any of the R1 set-up, merits a loss
I first would like to establish what this debate is and what this debate is not about. The resolution states that abortion should be legal in the United States. This debate centers around the legality of abortion and not necessarily the morality of abortion. With that said, let’s begin.
II. Pregnancy is risky and dangerous
P1: If there is significant risk, then there must be a choice
P2: Pregnancy is significantly risky
C1: Therefore, there must be a choice.
I’m sure my opponent would have no problem accepting P1. If there is a significant risk, then the government must allow a choice. As an example, organ donation is risky, therefore the government has no business forcing people to donate their organs, despite the fact that we could save countless lives by doing so.
Premise 2 states that pregnancy is risky. Not only that, but pregnancy is also extremely painful for the woman and expensive. Indeed, Elizabeth Raymond and David Grimes found that abortion is markedly safer than carrying a full pregnancy to term. They found that between 1998-2005 the pregnancy-associated mortality rate among women was 8.8 deaths per 100,000 births and the mortality rate to induced abortion was 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions. The United States has the highest pregnancy-related mortality rates in the developed world.Criminalizing abortion would make things a lot worse.
The conclusion thus is unavoidable. The government must allow women to have a choice to terminate their pregnancy.
III. Abortion is often needed
P1: The government ought not criminalize procedures that are sometimes necessary
P2: Abortions are sometimes necessary
C1: Therefore, abortions ought not be criminalized
Premise 1 is fairly obvious. To illustrate, heart surgeries are often needed, thus it would be wholly immoral of the government to criminalize this procedure.
Premise 2 states that abortion is necessary. Indeed, the sad reality is that abortion is a necessary evil. Let’s list a few examples.
A. Child pregnancy
There are many cases of 10-year-olds being raped and impregnated by older men. A whole list on Wikipedia shows that the youngest mother ever was a 5.5-year-old and there were many children as young as 9 and 10 who became pregnant.The risk factors in C1 are much more pronounced in young children. Children should not be forced to become young mothers because they are immature and should be allowed to enjoy their childhood.
B. Fetal anomalies
Fetal anomalies are far more common than one might think. For example, anencephaly is a birth defect where the baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. On average, anencephaly will occur 3 out of 10,000 pregnancies each yearThe condition is nearly always fatal with 75% of cases being stillborn and the rest surviving only days or weeks.Another, more common issue, is stillbirth. Stillbirth is the death of the fetus before or during delivery. The CDC lists the following classifications:
An early stillbirth is a fetal death occurring between 20 and 27 completed weeks of pregnancy.
A late stillbirth occurs between 28 and 36 completed pregnancy weeks.
A term stillbirth occurs between 37 or more completed pregnancy weeks.
The CDC further notes that each year, about 24,000 pregnancies end in stillbirth. In states such as Texas, women are often forced to carry such fetuses to term due to abortion bans after 20 weeks.
In summary, abortions are often necessary and thus should never be criminalized by the government.
To conclude, I believe I have given two solid reasons why abortion must remain legal in the United States. To deny women the right to choose will put women at risk and deny abortions that are medically necessary.
Thank you. The resolution is affirmed.
C1) Living humans ought to have rights and liberties enforced by judicial laws
P1: Living humans ought to have rights and liberties enforced by judicial laws
P2: If humans come into being at the moment of conception, they ought to have rights and liberties enforced by judicial laws
P3: Humans come into being at the moment of conception
C: Humans ought to have rights and liberties enforced by judicial laws at the moment of conception
The obvious flaw in this reasoning is no 2. Although it is scientifically sound to say that human “life” begins at conception, legal personhood does not start at the moment of fertilization and thus cannot be given any legal rights. Rights are never absolute. Indeed, we do not grant a 2-year-old the right or grant him the right to go into a store and purchase a gun. When it comes to the fetus, the legal personhood status with a right to life cannot be given for the following reasons: First, a zygote/fetus/embryo is dependent on the body of the mother to survive. Judith Thomas made the famous analogy of the famous violinist :
“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 has 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 you 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? No doubt it would be very nice of you if you did, a great kindness. But do you have to accede to it? What if it were not nine months, but nine years? Or longer still? What if the director of the hospital says, "Tough luck, I agree, but now you've got to stay in bed, with the violinist plugged into you, for the rest of your life? Because remember this. All persons have a right to life, and violinists are persons. Granted you have a right to decide what happens in and to your body, but a person's right to life outweighs your right to decide what happens in and to your body. So, you cannot ever be unplugged from him." I imagine you would regard this as outrageous, which suggests that something really is wrong with that plausible-sounding argument I mentioned a moment ago.”
Does the woman here have the right to unplug the famous violinist? I would argue that she does. Let’s draw another analogy. Let’s say the woman volunteers to hook herself up to the famous violinist, but later, for whatever reason, decides she does not want to go through the entire 9 months with the violinist. In this case, I argue that she still has the right to unplug this famous violinist. The reason for this is pretty obvious. An entity cannot be considered a full legal person unless they are at least: (1) conscious and (2) can survive independent of the woman’s body.
Consider the following: Over 1 MILLION IVF clinics create and destroy millions of embryos each year . Is it immoral to create millions of embryos with the hope of being able to give a couple a child knowing that millions of other embryos will need to be destroyed? The answer, to me, is obviously no. It is not immoral to create or destroy these embryos.
C1.1) Non-Aggressions Principle
P1: The NAP ought not to be violated
P2: Abortion violates the NAP
P3: If an agent violates NAP then it should be prohibited by the government
C: Abortion should be prohibited.
Con claims the NAP a political axiom, but never defines what “aggression” means. For this argument to hold weight, there needs to be an objective criterion as to what constitutes aggression. Indeed, the non-aggression principle is so deeply flawed that it ought to be rejected as a moral framework. Let’s look at a few examples:
Case 1: Allergy to smoke
I hate the smell of smoke and have allergic reactions to smelling the smoke of cigarettes. In the NAP world, should smoking be banned? If not, then clearly the NAP fails.
Case 2: Pollution
The NAP would suggest that all forms of pollution such as that emitted by cars and factories should be banned by the government. Because these pollutions are significantly harmful to the life and environment on Earth and the medical well-being of the population, the NAP would require us to ban these things. This is rightfully absurd.
However, even if I concede P1, it is arguable that forcing a woman to carry to term violates the NAP, thus undermining con’s own arguments! As I have shown in my opening statements, pregnancy is inherently risky and poses significant dangers to the mother’s well-being, thus forcing her to carry to term is, by definition, aggressive!
C2) It is prima facie morally wrong to kill an innocent human being
P1: It is prima facie morally wrong to kill an innocent human being
P2: If abortions end the life of an innocent human being it should be illegal
P3: Abortions kill innocent human beings
C: Abortions should be illegal
There are many issues with this argument. First, this argument is structurally invalid. The conclusion does not follow from the premises. P1 and P2 do not follow. When we say something is prima facie immoral, it means that there are one or more moral strikes against it “at first glance.” There are many such cases where being prima facie immoral does not equate it to being totally immoral and thus should be prohibited. Wars and the death penalty are such examples. Wars are sometimes necessary, but they are prima facie immoral. The death penalty is also prima facie immoral but is often times the only punishment that is just.
The second premise is flawed for the same reasons that I highlighted in my response to C1.
C3) The indifference between the unborn and the born
P1: Already born humans have rights and liberties enforced by law
P2: If there is no sound criteria to show that the unborn are less important/human than the already born, they should be seen equally in the eyes of the law
P3: There is no sound criteria to show that the unborn are less important/human than the already born.
C: The unborn should be seen as equals in the eyes of the law
Question for con: What is meant by “less important/less human” in this response? Having a definition for this would be a bit helpful!
I pretty much highlighted the flaw in P2/P3 in my responses above. However, I will go further than I did in my responses above. The human embryonic development is quite fascinating; however, it is clear that there is a clear criterion to show that the unborn are “less important” than the already born.
There was an ethical dilemma posted a few years back on this question. Suppose you are in an IVF clinic and there is a freezer with 1,000 embryos and 1 child. If you are forced to save one, everyone would agree that you save the 1 child and not the 1,000 embryos. It is clear that the life of 1 child outweighs 1,000 embryos because they are certainly far “less important” and “less human.”
3.1) Capacity for sentience
P1: If X has the capacity for sentience, it is prima facie morally wrong to kill it
P2: Both foetuses and coma patients (at least some) have the capacity for sentience
C: It is prima facie morally wrong to kill foetuses and coma patients (that have capacity for sentience)
I highlighted the issues associated with prima facie immorality in my response to his C2. But I think there’s a reductio ad absurdum that we could place here. Let’s say that we have a computer or a robot that has the potentiality for sentience. Would it be prima facie immoral to kill it or prevent it from becoming sentience? The obvious answer is no.
As I have shown, embryos do not have the criteria for what it takes to be considered a legal person and that not all rights are absolute (including the right to life). I have also shown that the NAP is a deeply flawed framework.
“Many hospitals offer perinatal hospice care. A perinatal hospice approach walks with these families on their journey through pregnancy, birth, and death, honoring the baby as well as the baby's family. Perinatal hospice is not a place; it is more a frame of mind. It is a way of caring for the pregnant mother, the baby, the father, and all involved with dignity and love.”