Instigator / Con

Abortion is ok because science says it's not a human yet is a valid defense


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After 6 votes and with 20 points ahead, the winner is...

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I would argue as science still requires faith in areas, Is constantly shown to be errant, And even if roughly correct can be changed due to precision of newly developed tools and techniques; it cannot be the basis for a defense that the unborn baby is not a human whose life has value and is worth defending.

Round 1
The comments raise very valid points and criticisms of the setup.

I apologize. I'm virtually brand new to the world of debating beyond casual in person conversation. I participated in a couple on another site, but people usually just spiraled off to their points ignoring the longer crafted premises. 

This site is thankfully not that. While still good for interesting discussions, I see the higher burden on terms and specification of topic. 

I'm happy to concede or cancel this if my opponent feels once terms are better set, they no longer wish to tackle the discussion. No hard feelings, that's on me. 

That said let me try to get to a debatable point. Patience with my lack of experience is greatly appreciated. 

I think the primary arguments for abortion i come against are science based points about why some status changes post birth for an unborn baby of any age. Ive rarely seen the idea that they're a human, have value, but since they're in the mother's womb, it's still the mothers choice. It's almost always science says they can't feel pain yet so it's ok or the mother and baby will experience a drastic reduction in financial well being below some acceptable standard, usually bolstered by the same science based arguments. The unborn baby doesn't have a heart beat yet, isn't conscious yet, etc are others. Granted at very different weeks old intervals. 

It's this idea I'm looking to discuss but from the basis of the justification for the various cited conclusions. If the basis for deeming bringing about the other points is flawed or not. I think it is. For someone who thinks using science to make a decision if a life is alive or human yet or of value to protect yet is kind of the avenue I was going for. 

My claim, based on a worldview found in the Christian Bible is that upon conception, the unborn baby is a human, created in the image of God, with intrinsic value, and can never be aborted. The only case I havent come to a point on is if the mother and baby will both die if the baby isn't terminated. However, I think this might be a category issue. Either way, I'll have to ask that I either concede that point or ignore it all together. Ive not gone down the rabbit hole of thought to run through the options from different points of view yet. 
My basis for that claim is a whole separate debate on the likelihood of that world view being correct. Which im happy to have. But again, I'm more so looking to question the legitimacy of the idea we can use scientific conclusions to define moral standards. 

The comment on law vs mortality is interesting. I think in these cases the law is forming a rule of behavior based on an underlying moral truth. Often thats guided by the societal majority. For Christians, it's the standard set by God. Ill be honest. I think that discussion is above my current level of depth of knowledge and understanding. It's something I want to look a lot more into. 

So again, a very specific premise and even further specific target audience who would take the opposing view. Apologies if this better explanation (I sure hope I was clear, I hate to think im wasting your time) still isn't clear or suffices to remove any interest in continuing. I dont want to box you into any unfair corners of assumption or false premise. I seek to discuss and better understand. Both opposing views and my own. 

As there are multiple types of validity, I shall prove my case multiple fronts, which shall be given their own sections below
  1. Valid if Unsound
  2. What Science Says
  3. Women's Rights

Pro has offered to concede in R1, and verified it in the comments [1]. With that in place, this debate will be transformed into something of a tutoring session.

I suggest bookmarking this guide, from which the layout used is taken:
Of course, feel free to ask any questions on why things are structured the way they are.

Burden of Proof
The resolution means X, so I should win if I prove Y. Conversely, my opponent should win if he or she proves Z.

The description lacked certain key definitions, so to avoid semantic issues…
Merriam-Webster defines the following:
  • X is “...the first in an order or class that includes x, y, and sometimes z.”
  • Y is “...the second in order or class when x is made the first.”
  • Etcetera is “a number of unspecified additional persons or things.”

I. Valid if Unsound
According to the academically peer-reviewed Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy [2]:
“A deductive argument is said to be valid if and only if it takes a form that makes it impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion nevertheless to be false. Otherwise, a deductive argument is said to be invalid.
A deductive argument is sound if and only if it is both valid, and all of its premises are actually true. Otherwise, a deductive argument is unsound.
So plugging the argument into logical form:
  • P1: Abortions to non-humans is morally ok (implied).
  • P2: Science verifies that X is non-human.
  • C1: Abouting X is morally ok.

P1: Abortions to non-humans is morally ok
This one is implied by the logical train of the original declaration. While I would insist non-human life still has value, anti-abortion advocates treat it differently when obviously non-human; which implies that there is an intuitive difference in value. Since 1977, abortion clinics have faced the following [2]:
“eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, and 186 arsons.”
Whereas veterinary clinics which routinely carry out cat abortions [3], are not even protested against.

Thus, from the perspective of those most opposed to abortion, there is a clear value difference. This is not to say they think it is best that animals be aborted, but merely that their actions evidence a perspective that it is ok.

P2: Science verifies that X is non-human
The claim is highly debatable, however as a premise it meets the IF THEN TRUE requirement building toward the conclusion.

If it is wrong then the argument is rendered unsound but not invalid.

C1: Abouting X is morally ok
If premises P1 and P2 are true, it is impossible for C1 to then be false.

From my arguments, I have supported the soundness of P1, but not the soundness of P2. This means the conclusion while logically valid, is likely unsound.

II. What Science Says:
This will get complex, but in light of the concession, is going to be designed as discussion rather than a true contention in support of the resolution (meaning less cherry-picking from me, closer to a fair review).

Person vs. Human
As someone very smart pointed out in the comments, science doesn’t have a real distinction yet, even while people deny the personhood of others frequently when it suits them.

A hall of fame winning debate on abortion, successfully leveraged that by scientific measurements under a microscope, any combined cell cluster in the human womb is human [4].

In my own debates on the topic, I am careful to stick to a standard of personhood [5]. I believe speaking morally, this is a better qualifier for protections. Consider the case of the movie Ted, that we could have culturally human intellects in non-human forms, and our laws would offer them no protections from kidnapping and dismemberment. Of course the standard of personhood does not guarantee that won’t happen, as sadly seen in various countries where women are not viewed as people.

Others might argue citizenship is what matters, but as an immigrant, this seems dangerously arbitrary. Basic morals should reduce this down to absurdity.

Science does a good job measuring this. I find some of the counters to be, simply put, absurd. Something does not cease to be a crime because you knock the victim out… You apparently get that when looking at just a human standard (or so I've been repeatedly told by pro-lifers).

However, when consciousness is combined with a standard of personhood, it offers good intuitive protections…

As a hypothetical, imagine a fire in a fertility clinic with a daycare. You can save the lives of toddlers, or a thousand fertilized eggs. From a strictly human standard of morality, you should let suffer the children… From a personhood standard, you may regret the loss, but save the toddlers… I would further argue that were it a future potential person (frozen embryo), or a trapped cat, the cat is closer to being a person even while lacking human DNA, so it should be prioritized.

Women’s Rights
The core issue about abortion legislation, is that it’s uneven application of the law. Women are human persons by any sane standard, and these laws end up oppressing them exclusively.

While respecting their rights at the expense of a not yet human may not be perfect, it ends up being ok due to being preferable to the alternative dystopia.

Round 2
Thank you. Seriously. The flow, format, and direct examples are well written and are going to be a tremendous resource to me. 

Also, there were some really good lines drawn. Some I totally want to debate and am very for one side against the other. Others, very different issues I may or may not ever have the interest or feel to investigate (like that of ethicacy of cat abortions). These were great thoughts and differentiators. 

Again thanks for taking the time to help me. I truly appreciate it! 

I. Valid if Unsound
Extend. Listing this as a rule of thumb.

II. What Science Says:

III. Women’s Rights

IV. Rebuttals (if they give heading names, use those)
Picked up from R1.

“people usually just spiraled off to their points ignoring the longer crafted premises”
Even here that can be a problem. I would say line by line responses are a problem of the same nature, as they usually miss the premise things combine to argue for. For this, I look for either the headings someone has used, thematic ones they should have used, or quoted snippets…

“Ive rarely seen the idea that they're a human ... still the mothers choice”
A lot of people have a misconception that in argument you can’t give an inch, thus they take it unnecessarily to extremes. Monty Python identifies a few types of bad argument tactics [1]:
  1. Abuse (0:44), yelling and insults instead of topical points.
  2. Contradiction (1:19), while to argue you must take on a contrary position, some people take it painfully too far into the realm of “just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.” This is often easy to spot from line by line replies, without internal consistency and therefore contradicting themselves.
  3. Argument (2:12), “An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.” Not a bad type, but they included in the middle an explanation of what arguments are when done properly.
  4. Complaint (3:49), while a useful piece in some arguments, not an argument in itself. 
  5. Assault (3:58), speaks for itself.
  6. Confusion (4:45), random off topic stuff to confuse someone, occasionally done to prevent them from attaining Burden of Proof.

“they can't feel pain yet so it's ok”
I’m guilty of this. My intent is not that because no pain it’s ok, but rather to mitigate (or even pre-mitigate) the other side. As an example, some people show abortion videos, to imply massive amounts of pain, yet pain at different stages can be proven to be an impossibility despite of how it looks.

It also doubles up when looking at metrics, as disproving pain, disproves a key harm.

This is of course incredibly powerful when arguing in defense of early term abortions. There is actually contradictory research on pain for full term abortions.

“drastic reduction in financial well being”
I’m very guilty of this. As was reported in the Journal of Pediatrics [2]:
“existing children of women denied abortions had lower mean child development scores and were more likely to live below the Federal Poverty Level.”
This intuitively feeds into a cost to benefit analysis. A loving mother cares about all her children, so if two or more previously, the cost to them is likely greater in magnitude than the benefit to the potential new one (the research is clear that this only applies to denied sought pregnancies; it in no way supports a conclusion on forcing abortions on pregnant women).

“Granted at very different weeks old intervals.”
Abortion debates would benefit from a stage overview in the preamble, as people tend to be poorly informed on these matters. Hell, on another website I trolled people by doing a poll on 4th trimester abortions… The results for both sides were of course hilarious [3].

“upon conception, the unborn baby is a human, created in the image of God, with intrinsic value, and can never be aborted.”
I wholly agree with the Imago Dei bit.

While the value of all living things is not equal, I likewise agree that there is some intrinsic value (I do however argue it is not enough to justify enslaving another human being).

I would exclude that “can never be aborted” bit, as you’ll get a smart aleck who will point out they do in fact occur. Worse, according to the Old Testament, God personally aborted many innocent Egyptians (yeah, I know it’s more complex than that, but it’s a risk if bringing any religious text into a political debate).

Logical Exceptions
Switching away from quotes to show how to shorten them into themes…

If both will die is a valid exception (I’d open it to either, or even more serious than normal health complications, as some pregnancies just go bad…). Some will jump on both dying as if that were the average abortion, which is a reason to include any exceptions within a scope statement in the description, to prevent them from later undermining the debate. Of course be careful when defining exceptions, because going too far they can likewise undermine the intended debate, such as a rap music exception [4] (if someone advises you to use spell check, please do it; don’t insist your words don’t matter to the arguments...).

scientific conclusions vs. moral standards
Scientific measurements can inform moral implications and actions.

We can say it’s wrong that Little Timmy doesn’t have a Playstation X, and also wrong that Flint doesn’t have clean drinking water. While both qualitatively wrong, they are quantitatively unequal. This is taking morally informed interventions from the subjective into the objective, when faced with limited or contradictory resources.

Interestingly it is (hopefully) only from a scientific conclusion that opposition to abortion stems. While we all agree a woman should not be forced to be a slave for nine months against her will, it is a scientific conclusion that without her as a life support system the fetus will cease advancement and die.


Round 3
This is a great format and outline. Thanks again for taking the time. 
You're welcome!
Round 4
I hope our paths cross again once I've had time to absorb this and put it into practice!

Until then, stay safe and keep doing what you're doing! I think a lot more would get said if people were willing to work together and not just throw talking points at each other. 
Best of luck on your future debates.

One thing I highly suggest reviewing periodically is: The Backfire Effect.