Abortion shouldn't be allowed if a mother's life is not at risk
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My argument is simple. The fetus is growing into a living, breathing baby human. It is of course not guaranteed, but abortion isn't 100% well done either. It seems to me that the pro-life have an excellent argument on their hand; why should the mother be able to kill their own child? This doesn't make a lot of sense. Humans do not have perfect judgement, especially with mothers who have wild mood swings and are exhausted from the process of pregnancy. (https://www.livescience.com/51043-pregnancy-emotions.html)
I've seen my opponent's other debate on costs of giving birth, but that's a little bit detracting (comparing giving birth's value to how much money it costs), not only does his source mention that it's only if you don't have insurance. Using the cost as justification could lead to a slippery slope, pro-life say, as raising the born baby costs far, far more than just giving birth, and you could use this idea to euthanize the baby, which is another debate entirely, but far harder to win than abortion.
To win this debate, my opponent must prove that Zygotes, embryos, and fetuses, are not their individual beings (and as such, a mother should be able to decide whether to kill it or not, even if her life is not in danger). I find this nearly impossible to achieve; for what reason these cells developing into humans, should not be considered humans as well?
As both debaters live in the United States of America, I shall assume this debate is about legalities within said country.
Burden of Proof
Traditionally the instigator has BoP to prove their case. As I am not the instigator, I doubly disagree with pro’s assessment that I must disprove developmental science. Even if primary BoP rested with me, I would not be beholden to that one tactic to prove or disprove the resolution.
Forcing a woman without pay to lose her freedom of autonomy to become property to be used basically as a medical device, is slavery. Making it worse, she will then be punished the rest of her life for having endured this, with decreased pay for equal work .
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction”
This is further supported by the fourteenth US constitutional amendment, which prevents the government from arbitrarily imposing its will in the private medical decisions of citizens . This means the government may not force anyone to become pregnant nor to stay pregnant against her wishes.
Embryos are not a people, whereas it is self evident that women are people.
Not all things are equal
Components are not the same as a finished product. When at a fancy restaurant, if you order chicken but they give you a raw egg, you will be disappointed. These things are not equal. Nor are zygotes, embryos, fetuses, and people.
The anti-choice side argues that zygotes, embryos, and fetuses should have equal rights to fully developed and functioning people, yet these are clearly not the same thing. People contribute to society, feel pain, etc. Even within people there is variance in rights and value, easily represented by not being able to vote until our 18th birthday.
Pro contends that pregnant women have mood swings, so should have their rights of self determination revoked. However, no crimes tied to said mood swings have been demonstrated to warrant such a drastic measure.
Even if he proved that pregnant women should all be declared institutionally insane, this would not ban abortions. Women of sound mind could sign off ahead of time to have future pregnancies aborted; much like the process for organ donors consenting ahead of time. Cons proposal would actually end up forcing abortions, as a woman would be unable to change her mind for fear that she might want to remain pregnant only as an act of insanity related to one of those “wild mood swings.”
The benefits from a proposal should outweigh the harms...
- “27.9% of all abortions were early medical abortions (a nonsurgical abortion at ≤8 weeks’ gestation)”
- “91.0% of abortions were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation”
- “7.7% were performed at 14–20 weeks’ gestation”
That comes to 98.7%, well before there even approaches the possibility of pain at 27 weeks.
For pro to win this, he needs to prove that those non-surgical abortions during the first trimester are such a great harm that multiple constitutional amendments need to be repelled (side note: only one was ever repelled, which was prohibition).
Safety for women
Pro believes in an exception for threat to life, but it is well documented that restrictive abortion policies put women in danger. The United Nations report restrictive abortion policies more than quadruple unsafe abortions, leading to three times the maternal mortality rate .
This is only magnified considering that the World Health Organization reports that there is no significant difference in abortion rates for unplanned pregnancies stemming from restricting it .
So massive harm, and no benefit.
Ragnar once again uses his slavery argument, but this is illogical. He has merely stated the woman loses one part of her autonomy and automatically compared it to being the property of something. How does this make any sense? If I ground my child and prevent him from going out of his room, his body from physically exiting the room, is this slavery? Of course not. He has made an absurd logical jump that makes no sense in the context of this debate.
Ragnar argues just because it's not equal means it suddenly has no rights. There are a lot of animal rights activists that even argue to protect beings much less advanced and smart than us. If you believe in the theory of evolution, a monkey or ape is merely in the process of over a million years to become a human. Surely they deserve less than humans. But yet they have their own life and they are slowly developing on their own, and clearly have conscience and intelligence. I can push forward "27 weeks" a little -- 24 weeks in already suggests some kind of conscience --"Its physical substrate, the thalamo-cortical complex that provides consciousness with its highly elaborate content, begins to be in place between the 24th and 28th week of gestation." -- https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/when-does-consciousness-arise/. But ah, 24 weeks may still be too long for a generalization. Fetus can still move at merely 9 weeks (https://www.pampers.com/en-us/pregnancy/pregnancy-calendar/9-weeks-pregnant), as responding to outside stimuli.
Let me ask again: Why should a woman be able to kill her developing baby? Her body itself is supporting this life, however questionable the first handful of weeks are. There are already methods of contraception to prevent ever starting having one in the first place. If you ignored all those methods, then are you not at blame for having your child? Do you not hold responsibility, if you know you can be able to not have a baby, and still choose to have a baby, then change your mind and use abortion? Ahhh, then pro-choice's ideas fall apart, don't they. It doesn't matter if they can't feel pain, ONCE AGAIN, I retrieve the idea of euthanizing the baby, which would most likely still cause no pain, but is extremely controversial and I believe far, far harder for my opponent to try proving.
The UN may have noted this correlation, but this is not causation. If you look carefully at the map the vast majority of the countries that prevent this are developing countries in Africa, which lacks safe practices --
as well as South America-- " The disparity between wealthy and poor areas likely exists due to the differences in access to services and skilled professionals. Women in the highest income quintile have far easier access to such health services than women in the lowest income quintile. The same class-based disparity exists when analyzing the use of contraceptive methods." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reproductive_rights_in_Latin_America)
This only means that mostly developing nations happen to disallow abortion, and combined with their poor practices, lead to the illusion that disallowing abortion leads to more abortion-related deaths. But consider America. The doctors are excellent and medical practices are top-notch. Regardless of our abortion policy, we would perform very well. Unless my opponent shows a source that shows even first world countries could not handle anti-abortion policies, (or that third world countries would ironically better off allowing abortions in all cases??) then his idea falls apart.
“How does this make any sense?”
A forced nine months of unpaid labor, with restrictions on normal legal activities she may do to enjoy her life (no drinking, no skydiving, etc.), reducing her to chattel for the perceived benefit of others at the direct expense to herself. This is an obvious form of slavery.
The law also prevents indentured servitude. You can opt to stop working any job at any time, and the government will not drag you back and force you to resume work.
“If I ground my child and prevent him from going out of his room, his body from physically exiting the room, is this slavery?”
No, that would be murder of a person. Key thing there being it’s a child, not a zygote or otherwise.
Similarly, not every sperm is sacred .
Not all things are equal
Pro argues that animals deserve rights because they “clearly have conscience and intelligence.” The same cannot be said for a zygote.
From his own source, to extend his own quote, fetuses do not have the potential for consciousness until well into the third trimester :
“Its physical substrate, the thalamo-cortical complex that provides consciousness with its highly elaborate content, begins to be in place between the 24th and 28th week of gestation. Roughly two months later synchrony of the electroencephalographic (EEG) rhythm across both cortical hemispheres signals the onset of global neuronal integration”
The same source concludes that the fetus is asleep until birth, only beginning consciousness and the slow growth of intelligence after pregnancy has ended .
Ironically, the next source begins with “your baby is the size of the cherry.” This is ironic due to the cherry-picking of the previous source . The Pampers source of course has an invested interest in maximizing births to sell diapers; which isn’t to say they are wrong about early muscle movement, but nothing about that implies feelings, consciousness, or intelligence.
“Why should a woman be able to kill her developing baby?”
I take this to mean zygot, embryo, and fetus as opposed to a baby as it is normally defined (birth until they start walking).
People have the right to withdraw use of their bodies. To give a couple examples,
- When I’m donating platelets, there is no legal penalty for me to pull the needle out and walk out. Sure a cancer patient needs that, but I have no legal obligation. Even with type O-Negative blood (universal donor), I still have no legal obligation to donate life saving blood at all.
- If someone buys me dinner, I do not owe them sex even if said rejection hurts them. Consent could likewise be withdrawn in the middle of coupling, and the government may not send police to drag me back into that bed to finish satisfying someone.
Additionally, she might do it for the benefit of any pre-existing children, with whom she has had longer to bond and would be harmed by the presence of another. As was reported in the Journal of Pediatrics :
“Existing children of women denied abortions had lower mean child development scores and were more likely to live below the Federal Poverty Level.”
Pro questions “If you ignored all those methods, then are you not at blame for having your child?”
Interestingly, conservative politicians have worked hard to prevent teens from being properly informed of these methods, resulting in increased teen pregnancies and abortions [5, 6].
So if playing the blame game, I would lay the fault at the pedo politicians who are obsessed with causing more underage pregnancies. The victims of such fields, should not be further victimized by being forced to endure all the harms our society would place on them for then not having an abortion.
Pro counters that “It doesn't matter if they can't feel pain.” It matters because it nullifies one of the most commonly claimed harms.
The zygote, embryo, or fetus does not suffer. Nor do they otherwise experience any loss.
In contrast, the mother experiences massive harms if forced against her will into slavery for the perceived benefit of the aforementioned being. Plus it’s safer for her than birth .
Safety for women
Pro counters that “this only means that mostly developing nations happen to disallow abortion.” Unfortunately for pro, the same holds true in the USA :
“States with more abortion restrictions have higher rates of maternal and infant mortality”
well played. You said my exact thoughts very well. I tried my best to play devil's advocate, but maybe it's not for me. Pro-choice never seem to be able to outwit me either. Good debate nevertheless. I concede. XD
Thank you for the good debate!
These do not need to be read, but if anyone is curious...
Last round I ran out of characters, so ended up leaving this argument implicit rather than explicit.
With more characters, I would have trollishly cited two things (as skippable side arguments):
- Spartans were awesome, and as shown in the movie 300, failure in this policy lead to their fall [scene].
- Marvel Comics superhero Thanos once decided to kill all Inhuman children between a certain age due to one or more trysts with Inhumans. As an anti-abortion advocate, he firmly believes they should be killed years later, rather than being denied the chance at life [more on this].
Correlation vs. Causation
Regarding correlation vs causation, it’s not worth anyone's time to explain data mining concepts like coefficient of confidence and all that. I will generally disagree with trying to dismiss everything as correlation not causation, since that would open to the door to such hypothetical statements as ‘the zygote isn’t known to die as a result of an abortion, since there’s only a strong correlation.’
Improving Abortion Debates
These debates should pick a clear scope.
Excepting for some religious fundamentalists who are opposed to birth control in general, abortion is not an all or nothing thing. To highlight this, there is a world of difference between literal infanticide and using a condom. When someone launches one of these debates, picking some point in the middle of those for the debate to center on (even if saying it implies it should apply further in whichever direction), would streamline the process.
Which is to say someone arguing the anti-abortion stance should either include an exception for the 27.9% of abortions in the first 8 weeks, or should limit their argument to those since that would intuitively prove all later ones are as bad or worse.