Instigator / Pro

Abortion should be legal


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After 3 votes and with 3 points ahead, the winner is...

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Contender / Con

Dartballs and I will take on the abortion debate. Neither of us will be arguing an absolute position and understand there must be room for nuance. My opponent allows abortion when the mother's life is threatened by pregnancy. I accept Roe V Wade has laid out reasonable limits on abortion. I anticipate our main point of contention will be, not in the fringe, but, where abortion is most common. Ie. Most abortions occur at or before 13 weeks of pregnancy. I will argue this should be legal, and Darth will argue against it. Each debater will have their own burden to meet.
There will be no new arguments in the final round - only rebuttal and closing.

Round 1
I’d like to thank my opponent for his participation in this debate.  While we may not agree on abortion, I think we can agree being able to openly talk about controversial issues can raise awareness and allow individuals to make informed decisions. Thanks, Darth.  


An abortion is a medical procedure to end a pregnancy. It uses medicine or surgery to remove the embryo or fetus and placenta from the uterus. The procedure is done by a licensed health care professional. [1]  
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. [2]  
Women’s health 
When comparing countries with the most restrictive laws (banned or allowed only when a woman’s life is endangered) with those with the least restrictive abortion laws, we find that there is virtually no difference in abortion frequency - 37 and 34 per 1,000 women, respectively. [3]   So what effect does more restrictions on abortion yield? According to Guttmacher institute, “in 14 developing countries where unsafe abortion is prevalent, 40% of women who have an abortion develop complications that require medical attention”. [3] Additionally, Guttmacher finds that “Of all abortions, an estimated 55% are safe (i.e., done using a recommended method and by an appropriately trained provider); 31% are less safe (meet either method or provider criterion); and 14% are least safe (meet neither criterion). The more restrictive the legal setting, the higher the proportion of abortions that are least safe—ranging from less than 1% in the least-restrictive countries to 31% in the most-restrictive countries. [3] Furthermore, legal abortion encourages women to seek abortion earlier making the process safer. Before Roe V Wade (1970) 25% of abortions were done after 13 weeks, and afterwards (1980) 10% were done after 13 weeks.  Additionally, more than 50% of abortions (1980) were done at 8 weeks or earlier. [4] 

In summary, prohibition and restrictive laws do not appear to reduce the frequency of abortion overall, but they do decrease women’s health in a society by forcing women to reluctantly seek necessary medical treatment (at later stages when more complications can occur) without the oversight provided by government regulation. Undeniably, legal abortion avoids complications and deaths that would occur with heavy restriction and prohibition. In other words: Outlawing abortion endangers women while doing nothing to solve the perceived problem.   
Human rights 

“A pregnancy to a woman is perhaps one of the most determinative aspects of her life. It disrupts her body. It disrupts her education. It disrupts her employment. And it often disrupts her entire family life.” Sarah Weddington – Wade Attorney 
Freedom, justice, and peace rests on fundamental human rights such as ‘freedom from slavery, freedom from torture, equality, and the right to life. Disallowing abortion violates every single one of these. If a woman does not consent to pregnancy and has no choice but to give birth, then she has become a slave to pregnancy. A woman being forced to give birth against her will is being subjected to torture. A woman being denied the same reproductive freedom as a man is receiving unequal treatment.  This is a challenge to ‘right to life’ overall as liberty and bodily autonomy are being denied. Every person has the right to control their own body. When this is denied, human rights are being attacked. Abortion is necessary for women to reach their full potential, and severe restrictions stand in the way.

I will keep this round short and sweet and send the debate over to DB. I look forward to seeing his arguments.

Agreed, everyone should be more open to discussion, its what makes progress and prevents regressions. Also i apologize but i will probably not be posting as many articles.

I have no argument with the definitions posted.
On human rights however it clearly states "inherent to all human beings" and an unarguably i think it can be seen that a fetus is a human being, some claim not a person, but my opposition has not argued that so ill wait on. that note.

On the Guttmacher institutes citation my opposition uses, it only displays stats.  However it never actually makes any claims as to why abortion numbers are similar in abortion restrictive vs liberal countries.  In fact, one it statements claims: "By far, the steepest decline in abortion rates occurred in Eastern Europe, where use of effective contraceptives increased dramatically; the abortion rate also declined significantly in the developing subregion of Central Asia. Both subregions are made up of former Soviet Bloc states where the availability of modern contraceptives."  This seems to show that there are more factors in play.  It could be that restricting abortion does in fact help decrease the amount of abortions, but those laws often occur in developing countries (also cited in guttmacher) where modern contraception would be much more scarce.  Culture, religion, ect also play factors, which is why i believe they only state the numbers and leave out a conclusive reasoning.
As far as logic goes, if abortion was made illegal in the U.S. it would make sense that numbers would decrease as though attempting it would be breaking the law, as well as risking their safety due to elimination of abortion clinics.

If human life begins at conception the stats on when an abortion occurs during the pregnancy dont matter.  Humans are developing until their 20s.  It is just as wrong to kill a baby as a fully developed adult.

As far as decreasing safety, how much pity am i supposed to give to women who most likely did not use proper conception, and will now go through such great lengths to do something knowingly illegal, unsafe, and what i would consider infringement on anothers rights as well as extremely immoral just to kill their own baby.  If they did use it they still accepted the risk, they can tell men to get vasectomies.

A pregnancy to a woman is perhaps one of the most determinative aspects of her life. It disrupts her body. It disrupts her education. It disrupts her employment. And it often disrupts her entire family life.
Women know this and they still take the risk, most of the time not using contraception [1]. They say pregnancy isnt consented to but let me present this scenario:

There is a button and it says: "Press me and you will recieve great pleasure, but you risk placing someone else in a scenario where they will be dependent on you for 9 months.  Use applicable methods to lower the risk by, 85-98%, 99%, and another very nearly 100%." 
If you click that button, often multiple times and without using the three forms, much less 1 in many cases, you most certainly consented and are responsible for that dependent.  Therefore you are not enslaved by it, you accepted it.

You have the freedom to control own life, if you make risky and bad decisions, it is you that got in your own way.
Reproductive freedom just cant be the same between men and women as men cant have babies, and im not willing to end human lives in the name of equality.  Men are also born innately stronger than women, do we have to limit their strength, or give them shots to make them weaker...equality of outcome is a stupid ambition.
Men get no say in whether their offspring lives or dies and often get the short end of the stick when it comes to custody.  Like dave Chappelle stated "If women can kill the kid why cant men leave them, if im wrong maybe we're wrong." Sorry if thats slightly off topic.

Round 2

Thanks you so much, Con!

People seeds 

Again, suppose it were like this: people-seeds drift about in the air like pollen, and if you open your windows, one may drift in and take root in your carpets or upholstery. You don't want children, so you fix up your windows with fine mesh screens, the very best you can buy. As can happen, however, and on very, very rare occasions does happen, one of the screens is defective; and a seed drifts in and takes root. [6] 
In this, ‘people-seeds’ flying through the window represent conception and mesh screens represent contraception.  While attempting to protect oneself from unwanted consequences, a person still finds they have people sprouting in their home.   JJT asks would it be impermissible to rid a home of unwanted consequences (and the burdens they represent) when reasonable precautions were taken to avoid this outcome?  
This scenario is analogous to the occurrence of a pregnancy in spite of contraceptives being employed. The pill has a failure rate of 7% - which means 7 out of every 100 women using only the pill will become pregnant every year. Condoms have an even higher rate of failure at 13% [7]. This is a very real concern - contraceptives are no guarantee against pregnancy.  As mentioned previously, pregnancy disrupts body, education, employment, and family. Abortion allows a woman to maintain control of her life when countermeasures fail. 


Darth suggests Guttmacher submits “only numbers and no conclusive reasoning”.  However, this is incorrect. In Guttmacher’s own words:

“The path toward safer abortions is clear: The benefits of expanding legal grounds for abortion begin to accrue as soon as women no longer have to risk their health by resorting to clandestine abortion. […] Highly restrictive laws do not eliminate the practice of abortion, but make those that do occur more likely to be unsafe.”

Additionally, pointing to factors considered by Guttmacher, Con extrapolates a lack of diligence on their part suggesting the data unreliable.  This simply does not follow. If my opponent has reason to believe the data is inadequate, then he will need to rely on something more substantial than his own intuitions. To that end, no data supporting a different conclusion has been submitted.

Beyond this, DB argues a need for abortion is overstated because it is the result of “most of the time [women] not using contraception”, but this is not supported by data – at least not explicitly. Even his own citation states other reasons for unintended pregnancy (‘using contraception incorrectly’). This does not suggest lack of contraception as a primary reason for unwanted pregnancy. Furthermore, this 'lack of contraception’ overlooks other reasons for abortion such as when sex is forced (contraception may not necessarily be possible), abortion might be required for threat to the mother’s life or fetal inviability (pregnancy might be preferred but impossible), and that it takes two to get pregnant (men have a role in unwanted pregnancies). In short, Con has grossly misrepresented reasons for abortion and who might be ultimately responsible.

That being said, let’s get to the core of DB’s case. 
1. He holds that human life begins at conception. 
2. He equates human life to personhood. 
3. He holds that abortion is a violation of the unborn’s rights, and that;
4. Abortion is acceptable for cases of rape or when the mother’s life are endangered.

I believe this to be a fair summary and will proceed on that assumption.

1 - I accept human life begins at conception.  It would be absurd to think that the product of two humans could be anything other than human.However, this isn't very helpful to his case.  Being human is not justification to deny the right of other humans (more on this later). Not to mention, there are instances where being human doesn't prevent the disabling life support. So this alone cannot lead us to a legitimate rational objection to abortion.
2 -I think it is overly simplistic to equate all human life to persons deserving of rights. As mentioned above, we as a society recognize that life support can be removed from some human life (brain-death). However, I will not argue personhood unless my opponent feels it is necessary. We so often see the back and forth over whether a fetus is a person, when personhood begins, etc.  Ultimately, I feel this distinction is immaterial to the abortion debate.  If rights are irrevocable and equal, then then the personhood of an entity acting on a woman's body against her will is no defeator of her inalienable rights.
3 – This is a distorted view of rights. Assuming the unborn have rights, there is no right to use the body of another person without consent.  There is no size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency which allows one person to co-opt another person’s biology against their will. So, even if the assertion that human life begins at conception (read as ‘personhood begins at conception’) is accepted, it does not disallow the rights of others.
4 – While I agree abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or a threat the mother’s life, it is a problem for the Pro-life position. For DB to allow this exception he must contradict his own reasoning for disallowing abortion in general. Is it acceptable to abort a human life or not? If so, how can rape abortion be justified while maintaining a position against abortion overall? I think there is a bit of incoherence here, and I look forward to how my opponent navigates this.

Button analogy

First, Con is relying on the same ‘lack of contraception’ assumption mentioned above. As pointed out, this is a bad assumption. 
Secondly, he equates consent to sex with consent to pregnancy.  This is not the case.  Consent is conditional and does not extend to every possible outcome of a given activity.  For instance, we would reject the suggestion that someone has consented to death because it is a 'possible outcome of being in an automobile'. Unless explicitly stated, ‘possible’ is not what is consented to.  It should also be noted that, on average, people *trying* to get pregnant require almost 80 attempts before they succeed. [5] Anyone experienced with unprotected sex or who has attempted to get pregnant will know it is not necessarily easy to get pregnant. Beyond this, sex isn’t just something people do for pleasure and/or procreation. It might also be used to foster intimacy and connection, alleviate stress, and pain management - as well as an assortment of other subjective ends - none of which necessitate a duty or obligation to anything beyond those who have given consent to share their bodies with one another. In short, the button would not be an either/or like DB has suggested. I think it would be more realistic if the button said, “push for intimacy, connection, pleasure, pain management, or stress reduction, etc”., and there would be another button for pregnancy.

Equality of outcome?

DB would have us accept reproductive freedom is an aspiration for equality of outcome, but this is not the case. Reproductive freedom seeks equality of opportunity. Women should be able to participate in society just as fully as anyone else. They should have the opportunity to a good education, to control their economic future, and to decide the use of their biology – just like everyone else.  Without the option of abortion, an unwanted pregnancy can stand in the way of opportunity. Without the option of legal abortion, an unwanted pregnancy can stand in the way of health and opportunity.

At the core of the right to reproductive freedom is opportunity: the opportunity to obtain a good education, to shape one's economic circumstances, to participate in the democratic process, to find love, to build families, to decide what makes for a good life, and to have the opportunity to live that life.
– Louise Melling, Deputy Legal Director ACLU

"Men get no say"

It's true that men get no say over "whether their offspring lives or dies".  It is also true, that men do not carry offspring in their bodies and a 'say' would require men to have control over a woman's body.  This is tantamount to slavery if the woman's preference is different than that of the man.  Again, there is no right to control the body of another person. I think Dave Chapelle has the situation backwards - the fact that men leave is a reason why women may want to end the pregnancy.

On that, we'll turn it over to Darth - Back to you, sir!

The fail rates used by the opposition include instances when the female and male misuse contraception, which is their responsibilty.  If used correctly is closer to 2 and 1%.  Also while i understand those are the most common methods used there were other reeversible contraceptive methods that had failure rates as low as 0.1%.  Also sex is not a required activity, even so using both at his coted failure rates it drops to 9 in 1000.  It cites that in 2018 nearly 50% of pregnancies were unplanned with 50% of those not attempting contraception.  In many of the sources it uses the "attempting" very liberally.  In their failure rate for confomns they include: when they are not used correctly or not used everytime".  If not used everytime or correctly is counted as an attempt I imagine the correct number for unwanted pregnancy is much higher. "Contraceptives rely on the person using them correctly"...again their responsibility.
Clarifying what I mean they didnt make a conclusion, is they implied a bad conclusion my opposition used when stating restrictive laws dont help limit abortion.  They state restrictive laws mostly occur in developing countries, while also stating the decrease in abortions is due majorly to an increaae in modern conception; something developing countries have less of.  So in reality it does seem like it decreases them as it is still lower even low there is less access to contraception.  Meanwhile culture, religion, ect also needs to be taken into account.

It was claimed that i misspoke when saying most women dont use contraception.  What i meant by that is a majority of women who get unwanted pregancies arent using it or used it incorrectly which is supported, as stated early the 50% number of those not using contraceptive doesnt include thise using it incorrectly and may not use those who use it sporadically. Pregnancies due to rape are a very small number.  Who is ultimately responsible is still the individual. who commited the act whether they used contraception or not.

One comment was that being human doesn't prevent the disabling life support. I dont know a single person who would disable life support if months later the person would most likely live a healthy long life.

Often we have disagreements on what is consent.  The opposition claims: There is no size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency which allows one person to co-opt another person’s biology against their will. Where i disagree is that, you would be required to if you willfully created that dependency, button analogy or for example if you injured someone drunk driving i would find it right to take your blood if it was needed to save the others life.

As far as allowing abortion in the instance of rape, i take far more pity on the mother, and believe government care should help support her, but i still wouldnt agree with abortion, not to mention there isnt evidence that abortion helps the mental state of the woman, in fact the opposite can sometimes be seen.

In allowing abortion in instances where the mothers life is in danger, the justification is it is a no win situation.  If women werent allowed to make this decision, it would severly handicap the amount of women willing to bear children, and add much more stress to all pregnancies.

I wouldnt say someone consented to death when they entered a car, but they do consent to the statistical liklihood of it occuring.  In the end, sex may be used for many things but one of its primary functions is procreation, and in the end the human that was created was created by your actions and decisions alone, it played no part, and doesnt deserve a death sentence for an action commited by people who did understand the risks.  Im not sure how many people use sex for pain management, but for that and the others things you additionally listed, their are other activities that you can choose from that wont create a child, in fact you can still have sex in ways that wont.

Many people act like pregnancy means the end of your life you lose all of your opportunity which is incorrect.  You can still attend school while pregnant and you can put the child up for adoption. It makes life maybe more challenging, but i dont believe ending anothers human justifies wanting your life to be easier.  Using the car analogy, if i got in a wreck and it disabled me for a while even if it wasnt my fault, i wouldnt be able to kill/harm another to make my life easier.  Also again all of limited opportunities that are listed are known, and men and women can control whether they take that risk, its not a popular opinion, but it is a fact that you dont have to have sex until your ready to potantially have a child.

Round 3
Thank you so much, Darth!


There are a few misconceptions that need to be called out and cleared up:

1) The responsibility argument - addressed below.
2) "Abortion is harmful to the mental state of women"

The American Psychological Association states: 

Research has shown that having an abortion does not increase a woman's risk for depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.i A review of the scientific literature conducted by an APA task force and released in 2008 indicated that the relative risk of mental health problems following a single elective first-trimester abortion of is no greater risk to mental health than carrying an that pregnancy to term. [11]
In short, abortion can immediately stop a pregnancy, but not the biological/mental turmoil associated with pregnancy itself. Thus equating mental states related to pregnancy to abortion would be like equating stretch marks to abortion. Pregnancy effects a woman's body and regardless of how it stops - birth, miscarriage, or abortion - the effects continue until the body is able to find hormonal equilibrium.

3) "The primary function of sex is procreation".

This is demonstrably false.  By the lowest estimates, sex occurs two orders of magnitude more frequently than reproduction. The average person has sex anywhere from 4000 to 6000 times in their lifetime [12], while reproduction occurs, on average, 0-10 times in a lifetime.  Clearly, the primary function of sex cannot be procreation, but any number of reasons such as those suggested in round 2. As an example, a couple where one or both are not capable of reproduction or a like-gendered couple is not having sex for reproduction and asserting sex is for reproduction discounts their sexual activity as something outside of "primary function". The primary function of sex is user-determined.


Con argues contraception properly used could yield lower failure rates.  I agree. However, in the real world, contraception is misused. The stats I’ve provided reflect this. We could debate how to close the gap between perfect use and what actually happens, but it really isn't relevant to this debate. The point made by the ‘people seeds’ thought experiment is that (even by Con’s “2 and 1%”) pregnancy sometimes happens even when every precaution is taken, and this is one scenario where abortion is reasonable. Con may attempt to use perfect-use numbers, nonetheless, we live in an imperfect world and should address it as it is rather than as we imagine it should be.

Darth begins with an argument of responsibility. Namely, that unplanned pregnancies are the result of participant irresponsibility.  However, this is overly simplistic.  In the US, there are three types of sex-ed: Abstinence only, Abstinence-plus, and comprehensive.  Abstinence-only provides no information on the use of contraception/condoms to prevent STD or unwanted pregnancies. Abstinence-plus may cover contraception, but still relies on an unrealistic stigmatization of sex as a primary defense against unwanted pregnancies and STD’s. Comprehensive Sex-ed gives young people all the information while accepting sex for what it is: a normal and healthy part of human life.

That being said, abstinence curricula has been shown time after time to be ineffective [6][7][8]. Comprehensive sex-ed has been shown to increase contraceptive and condoms use, reduce the number of partners. Given this, you would expect Abstinence-focused programs to be used seldom, but sadly, that is not the case.

“The United States ranks first among developed nations in rates of teenage pregnancy, abortion, and sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Only 38 of America’s 50 states have sex education laws, and 30 of those curricula promote the ideal of abstinence until marriage. Only eight include all components of a comprehensive sex education. [14]
My opponent casually mentions “sex is not a required activity” as if abstinence can be seriously entertained as a legitimate strategy for reducing unwanted pregnancies.  In the same way that ‘sex is not a required activity’, friendship, delicious foods, beautiful environments are not required either. However, a world devoid of these things certainly diminishes the enjoyment of life. It is not a matter of sex being voluntary or required, but the fact that most humans will inevitably seek it out.  This informed understanding of human nature is what we should build sex-education curricula on rather than misguided superstitions. This, in my opinion, is why abstinence-only education is a failure.  The notion that we can tell people ‘no sex’ while providing little or no information about how to avoid pregnancy (rather than sex itself) is demonstrably faulty and grossly irresponsible. Perhaps, my opponent is correct and unwanted pregnancy is due to irresponsibility – our own irresponsibility for withholding useful information that is known to work better. 

My opponent agrees: being human doesn’t disallow disabling life support.  (This is a concession that being able to apply "human" to a being is irrelevant to 'right to life') However, he suggests it is not appropriate if a person might live a long healthy life is wrong.  This is not directly analogous to life after conception.  There is no guarantee the unborn will live a long and healthy life given the commonality of failure to implant, miscarriage and fetal anomalies ("overall pregnancy loss from fertilization to birth is approximately 40-60%" [10]). Secondly, the life support is, in this case, a human person. My argument below will explore biology being co-opted without consent and why this is problematic.


The 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. [If he is unplugged from you now, he will die; but] in nine months he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you. [13]

In this scenario, a person’s biology has been co-opted against their will to bring someone else to full health. JJT argues the kidnapped individual has no obligation to the violinist.  Yes, the world may be without a world-class violinist (or a “person that might live a long and healthy live”), but there is no duty to his life at the expense of another’s biology.  There is no right to life that includes the use of another person’s body. For the same reason, abortion does not deny a fetus’ right to life – it merely deprives it of the non-consensual use of another’s body.

I thank the reader and my opponent for their attention and end my turn!

Round 4
My arguments stand.