Instigator / Pro

Elective abortion is prima facie immoral


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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Resolved: Elective abortion is prime facie immoral.

Elective Abortion: An abortion done for non-medical reasons

1. No forfeits
2. Citations must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final speeches
4. Observe good sportsmanship and maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (challenging assumptions in the resolution)
7. For all undefined resolutional terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate
8. The BOP is evenly shared
9. 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)
10. Violation of any of these rules, or of any of the description's set-up, merits a loss

R1. Pro's Case; Con's Case
R2. Pro generic Rebuttal; Con generic Rebuttal
R3. Pro generic Rebuttal; Con generic Rebuttal
R4. Pro generic Rebuttal and Summary; Con generic Rebuttal and Summary

Round 1
Thank you, RationalMadman, on debating me on this important social issue.


P1. The unborn entity, from the moment of concept, is a full-fledged member of the human community
P2. It is prima facie morally wrong to kill any member of that community
P3. Every successful abortion kills an unborn entity, a full-fleded member of the human community
P4. Therefore, every successful abortion is prima facie morally wrong

P1 is an undisputed fact that even those who are in favor of abortion cannot deny. Gregg Henriques, Ph.D., writes(1)

'In my survey of the abortion debate, the question of whether a zygote, embryo or fetus is alive is one of the most crucial. Frequently those who are pro-life argue, as Rubio did, that science is clear on this issue. Human life begins at conception. The pro-choice folks then question this and say there is debate about it. Although I am pro-choice, there should be no debate about this issue. The facts are clear and with the appropriate definition of terms we can unequivocally conclude that human life begins at conception."
Furthermore, an unborn entity exhibits every single characteristics of life including growth, metabolism, response to stimuli, the potential to reproduce, built of cells, have complex chemistry, and maintain homeostasis (2). 

Peter Signer writes (3): 

It is possible to give ‘human being’ a precise meaning. We can use it as equivalent to ‘member of the species Homo sapiens’. Whether a being is a member of a given species is something that can be determined scientifically, by an examination of the nature of the chromosomes in the cells of living organisms. In this sense there is no doubt that from the first moments of its existence an embryo conceived from human sperm and eggs is a human being; and the same is true of the most profoundly and irreparably intellectually disabled human being, even of an infant who is born anencephalic - literally, without a brain.

The unborn entity is clearly alive and distinct from the mother. Size, level of development, environment, or the degree of dependency does not disqualify one as a human being. 

P2 I believe is pretty obviously true. Unless con challenges this in his argument, I will not spend time defending this premise. Premise 3 is also obviously true. An abortion kills the unborn. The conclusion is therefore inescapable: the unborn are clearly human and thus abortion is prima facie immoral. 

3. Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 85-86. 

As per the structure, I cannot rebut Pro in this Round and any 'rebuttal-points' are inherent to the case I make whereas anything lacking is intentionally left until R2.

The Conundrum of Prima Facie Immorality (Not a Kritik)

The issue of Prima Facie Immorality is that it suggests there is ever a default immoral act. Prima Facie means the following:

at first sight (= based on what seems to be the truth when first seen or heard)

The issue with that being a source of immorality in a formal debate is that Pro or Con can unfairly beat the other purely by saying 'well duh this is immoral, just look at how disgusting/wrong it is.' and the opponent is left at a loss as they would have to do the same back and rely on the subjective opinion of voters. While this is not going to be an in-depth debate about all the ways Pro-choice defeats pro-life (I am not playing devil's advocate here, I really believe my side and believe me there's so much depth to it) it is still going to be a fascinating debate over whether pleasure or living is more important a factor in deciding the 'most good' option in a scenario.

I stand here not to say that, after a lot of detailed argumentation and considering every aspect involved, that elective is the 'good option' (especially not as we get into the last trimester) but I am here to say that the default should be pro-choice and that the mother doesn't owe the fetus, society or you a damned thing, let alone a baby, as a default.

I will explain very much while proving as few things as is needed in this debate and that is, just as Pro has done, precisely what a Prima Facie debate should be, stylistically. If you believe I explain better why the default is that it's fine for the mother to choose to abort even if she won't die from giving birth (or prior to it, due to the process of pregnancy) as well as not in cases where the baby is dying anyway and that the immorality, if it is there, only comes from reasoning placed on top of Prima Facie stance, then vote for me. If you believe Pro does the inverse better than I do, feel free to vote Pro. This debate is entirely about the default moral-status of the act/decision and not about what it ends up being upon further factors being taken into consideration (such as the species of the child and the uniqueness of that, which I'll get to in R2 rebuttal).

What Elective Abortion Is, Both Physically and Morally

An elective abortion is the interruption of a pregnancy before the 20th week of gestation at the woman’s request for reasons other than maternal health or fetal disease.

The first and foremost thing to understand about this act is that it is a follow-up on the already poor odds of the creation of a specific being via sex, whether that baby were created genuinely sexually or in vitro. The importance of knowing what precisely the elective abortion is, physically in terms of statistics and nature of the act, is that only then can we properly go on to assess it morally. Lack of background information on the act itself (not further information than would be Prima Facie (PF)) would mean one is too ignorant a judge to have a verdict on the morality of said act.

To explain just how unlikely it is anyone is born, at all, as in even the chance to be aborted to hold you back from birth among other things, we need to know facts. This is not violating PF or Kritiking the ignorance involved with a PF-analysis but rather accepting that PF does entirely rely on, and not exclude, background analysis on the matter at hand so as to grasp context and severity of the act in and of itself.

I'll let my sources speak for me and will gladly elaborate in later Rounds on this. Visual Aid to help:

Dr. Ali Binazir illustrates the extremely unlikely chain of events that would have to occur in order for you to be born with this example in a blog post:

Imagine there was one life preserver thrown somewhere in some ocean and there is exactly one turtle in all of these oceans, swimming underwater somewhere. The probability that you came about and exist today is the same as that turtle sticking its head out of the water — in the middle of that life preserver. On one try.
The path begins with the odds of your dad meeting your mom (1 in 20,000). This is multiplied by the chances of them staying together long enough to have kids (1 in 2,000), and so on...

The probability of you existing at all comes out to 1 in 10 2,685,000— yes, that's a 10 followed by 2,685,000 zeroes!

So what's the probability of your being born? It's the probability of 2.5 million people getting together -- about the population of San Diego -- each to play a game of dice with trillion-sided dice. They each roll the dice -- and they all come up the exact same number -- say, 550,343,279,001.

A miracle is an event so unlikely as to be almost impossible. By that definition, I've just proven that you are a miracle.

Now go forth and feel and act like the miracle that you are.

Now that we understand just how unlikely it is, which included the right sperm meeting the egg and giving successful live birth and all that jazz (will expand on the sources in later Rounds if need be), we reach an ultimate dilemma:

Should humans, as a whole, do everything in their power from banning contraception to demonising abortions in order to defy the rarity and scarily low chance of any particular one existing and render the best odds for all or should they sit back, relax and be in awe at just how rare that is and look a little further into the rarity of being raised happy by psychologically, physically and financially stable, healthy parents/guardians throughout their life?

The reasons that the scarcity and absurdity of living/existing actually severely decreases the 'wrongness' of elective abortion and why other factors are by and large going to add onto it.

Con takes the stance of not fighting against the bad odds. Con says that the rarity that makes it so fascinatingly rare and special that we exist is not actually reason to make the mother feel she owes us that pregnancy or make people feel they must have sex and raise as many children as possible from as early a point in life as they have (perhaps accidentally due to bad contraception or having sex while inebriated etc) produced arguably viable offspring (there's still other complications that could mean not aborting was in vain but that's rare and I am on the side of going along with the odds here so that would be contradictory to bring up). 

I argue that the fact it's so lucky that you have that fetus in your womb forming doesn't mean you owe all that much unless, in a non-PF layer of reasoning, we realise humanity is severely underpopulated or a context where the rarity of life actually somehow is proven to be something we have to climb our way out of (an undiscovered/non-invented Karma/Dharma debt sort of thing or any anti-abortion religion's system of justice and Deity/Deities being proven true).

I also admit that it's non-PF reasoning to say the likelihood of the child growing up with healthy, caring parents and such is low and to then justify the abortion being moral due to that but what is PF-inclusive is to analyse the raw odds of ANY such fetus being born to loving, healthy, financially stable parents and such and frankly there's so much chaos involved there on that macro-level of analysis that I doubt either side could conclusively say anything. Pro may argue "obviously most humans are physcially healthy enough, financially stable enough and psychologically healthy/stable enough to raise a child since the unhealthy in all categories are a minority" but I'll happily go into proving that most humans are forming the bottom of a pyramid-scheme of Capitalism worldwide and that this debate isn't US-specific so African nations and such will be included in my further analysis as well as pointing out how poor the spotting of mental health issues and such are in those nations rendering that assumption by Pro to be nullified.

The mother, as I see it, owes no one anything and is merely doing what most likely would have happened anyway had that very rare set of events leading to the creation of the presumed-viable zygote occurring.

Why is the default 'immorality'? The default is definitely that it's fine and just another daily event both on a macro-analysis, statistical level and on a micro-situational contextual level (but the latter can only be non-PF so I won't go into that unless Pro wishes to).

Round 2
Thank you, con. I apologize for running low on time. I'll do a better job with expanding on these arguments in the next round. 


Con's argument is a bit of a kritkit and asks how something can be prima facie immoral. When we talk about something being prima facie immoral, we refer to an action that has some morally bad features, or some moral strikes against it, though the "wrongness" can be overridden by other factors [1]. 

In the case of abortion, the prima facie issue comes with the issue of (1) the fact that abortion kills a full-fledged member of the human race, and (2) murder of an innocent human being is prima facie immoral.

The next question we need to ask is why is murder prima facie immoral? Con seems to be attacking that premise. Don Marquis has a pretty good answer [2]:

What primarily makes killing wrong is neither its effect on the murderer nor its effect on the victim’s friends and relatives, but its effect on the victim. The loss of one’s life is one of the greatest losses one cansuffer. The loss of one’s life deprives one of all the experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments which would otherwise have constituted one’s future. Therefore, killing someone is wrong, primarily because the killing inflicts (one of) the greatest possible losses on the victim. To describe this as the loss of life can be misleading, however. The change in my biological state does not by itself make killing me wrong. The effect of the loss of my biological life is the loss to me of all those activities, projects, experiences, and enjoyments which would otherwise have constituted my future personal life. These activities, projects, experiences, and enjoyments are either valuable for their own sakes or are means to something else that is valuable for its own sake. Some parts of my future are not valued by me now, but will come to be valued by me as I grow older and as my values and capacities change. When I am killed, I am deprived both of what I now value which would have been part of my future personal life, but also what I would come to value. Therefore, when I die, I am deprived of all of the value of my future. Inflicting this loss on me is ultimately what makes killing me wrong. This being the case, it would seem that what makes killing any adult human being prima facie seriously wrong is the loss of his other future.
The rest of con's argument has little, if nothing, to do with the resolution at hand. Sure.I absolutely can concede that the chances of life are astronomically low, but that does not follow that murder is morally permissible. 

Due to how little more Pro has brought to the table in R2, I will not split this into sections but have one long rebuke of Pro's case as a whole as well as linking in reaffirmation of my core case for the pre-20-week-gestation elective abortion act being one that is prima facie neutral and/or morally good, on balance.

It is not a Kritik to render the act morally neutral as I am not doing this by negating morality, I am going to explain how it can be even on both sides potentially to such a degree that one cannot truly say it's weighed more evil due to how much moral positivity there is to the act being legal and/or being done, prima facie.

Pro's case rests upon the idea that, in all scenarios, the instinct of someone morally must be to loathe the killing of a being that happens to possess human DNA. The issue about 'prima facie' is that we must ask how far and how distant we look at elective abortion to decide if this is right or wrong. I am going to try and toe the line as best I can but being the deep thinker I am, being prima facie is difficult to know what exactly it is I am not allowed to analyse or look into. If we are able to assess the species of aborted, can we not also analyse its potential to have a happy life there and then? Can we not also observe what a parasite it is to the human mother? Pro would have us believe that the very fact it has human DNA entitles it to live in and of itself and says this is an axiom of all morality but it isn't as simple as that and Pro agrees with me on this due to what Pro does in Round 2.

Pro, in R2, explores something that is going to be his downfall, not that I needed that to win. By exploring the idea that denied experience, denied pleasure, denied unfolding of events that one can't experience as being reason not to kill them and explicitly saying that the impact on others as well as the murderer are not the reasons it's... Wait, murder? Okay, let's stop right there and be clear here. This could well be a debate about if it's murder or not but, as it stands, abortion in many (if not all) both-socially-and-economically-developed nations is not 'murder'.

the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought.

Elective Abortion is legal in so many nations, the irony of it being illegal in nations where there is a lot of poverty and the child is more likely to be born into an agonising life with a mother who is forced to have it against her will is not the 'funny' kind of irony at all.

The poverty element I'm not going to source or go into as that's hardly part of prima facie reasoning but what I am going to do is go into what a foetus is, what a parasite is and what the issue with Pro's R2 to his entire case is.

Pro seeks to tell us that we are denying a human from experiences. Where, in Pro's entire Round 2, is it remotely hinted at what kind of experiences we are preventing? Since Pro asserts that the experiences will be good or something to not deny the fetus of, I am forced to push the boundary of prima facie in the same way to counter it.

I am not entirely sure how you can go ahead and say we are denying the child of experiences and then assert that those experiences will be net-good when both mothers who are denied abortions and children who are born despite it are going to be ridden with many hardships and unpleasantness in life but it's so hard to prove this without breaking prima facie. So, what I'm going to do is simply state that children who had mothers wishing to abort them are going to have a stressed out mother during pregnancy, the stress alone isn't how the child gets harmed... What do very hormonal and sensitive women do when stressed? They 'cope' and how is that? Smoking? Oops. Drinking? Oops. 

We also could look at the link between who wants to abort a child and the circumstance they are in psychologically and economically. Looking at a general framework isn't breaking prima facie. The type of woman who wants to abort a pregnancy is clearly psychologically, economically and/or in general life priorities not ready to raise a child or even get pregnant fully on a disciplined diet and lifestyle to reduce harm to the fetus. This is self-evident by the simple notion that a would-be mother is going to want to be a mother if already pregnant unless psychological/psychiatric, economic or life-prioritising events alter such that she's panicking and not ready to raise the child.

Here I can look into non prima-facie territory to then assert what I've just said. 

Most respondents to a survey of abortion patients in 1987 said that more than one factor had contributed to their decision to have an abortion; the mean number of reasons was nearly four. Three-quarters said that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities, about two-thirds said they could not afford to have a child and half said they did not want to be a single parent or had relationship problems. A multivariate analysis showed young teenagers to be 32 percent more likely than women 18 or over to say they were not mature enough to raise a child and 19 percent more likely to say their parents wanted them to have an abortion. Unmarried women were 17 percent more likely than currently married women to choose abortion to prevent others from knowing they had had sex or became pregnant. Of women who had an abortion at 16 or more weeks' gestation, 71 percent attributed their delay to not having realized they were pregnant or not having known soon enough the actual gestation of their pregnancy. Almost half were delayed because of trouble in arranging the abortion, usually because they needed time to raise money. One-third did not have an abortion earlier because they were afraid to tell their partner or parents that they were pregnant. A multivariate analysis revealed that respondents under age 18 were 39 percent more likely than older women to have delayed because they were afraid to tell their parents or partner.

Let me just quickly confirm that a fetus is a parasite to the mother before I finish this Round off. I am sure Pro will run a Kritik of this, saying that it's a symbiotic relationship as the fetus gives back to the mother in its own way hormonally etc but a win-win parasite Kritik ignores how much more the fetus gets out of it than the mother and also ignores that we are forcing the mother to undergo it against her will when we have a way out for her.
The cells of the human endometrium are tightly aligned, creating a fortress-like wall around the inside of the uterus. That barrier is packed with lethal immune cells. As far back as 1903, researchers observed embryos ‘invading’ and ‘digesting’ their way into the uterine lining. In 1914, R W Johnstone described the implantation zone as ‘the fighting line where the conflict between the maternal cells and the invading trophoderm takes place’. It was a battlefield ‘strewn with… the dead on both sides’.

When scientists tried to gestate mice outside the womb, they expected the embryos to wither, deprived of the surface that had evolved to nurture them. To their shock they found instead that – implanted in the brain, testis or eye of a mouse – the embryo went wild. Placental cells rampaged through surrounding tissues, slaughtering everything in their path as they hunted for arteries to sate their thirst for nutrients. It’s no accident that many of the same genes active in embryonic development have been implicated in cancer. Pregnancy is a lot more like war than we might care to admit.
Now, due to all I have written in R1 and this Round we are at a stage of understanding where we comprehend that the following things:

  1. Unless Pro is going to run a case for considering all masturbation and contraception as immoral, it follows that humans 'wasting their reproductive capacity' is considered morally neutral or even a good liberty to allow and this snowballs into why it's so rare anyone exists at all and why abortion is a drop in the ocean relative to all else that could prevent human life and thus we must admit that it's, prima facie, just another thing happening that leads to no human life despite there being potential for it.
  2. Would-be mothers who have abortions (or would have if it were available to them) are automatically not likely to raise the child well, it is actually their urge to protect the fetus from a life of shitty foster care or shitty life under their care that leads them to abort. It is their urge to do right by the child that leads them to want to abort. The only way they would turn into an 'evil mother' is if you force them to have it and they go 'well now I'm stuck with you and I don't want you to suffer under some parents I don't know so I'll raise you as my beloved burden' and be a passive-aggressive type of abusive or neglectful mother.
  3. The fetus itself being human and possessing DNA that happens to be of our species is breaching prima facie if you analyse the act in itself. The entire trade of non-vegetarian foods as well as eggs must be deemed equally prima-facie immoral if we are to really stick to prima facie and hold Pro's position as correct. Considering what happens in factory farms, I am not sure that aborting a chicken or cow-fetus is all that cruel at all.
  4. Pro has yet to explain why abortion should be murder as opposed to a separate crime, the fetus is a parasite to its mother and forcing her to undergo it is prima facie immoral.

Round 3
The only thing left to directly address/attack is the use of the term 'human community' and also 'full fledged' in relation to the foetus' role in said community.

It is not, at all, Prima Facie (PF) to delve into this, hence why I didn't. Nonetheless, it is something voters will accuse me of only having indirectly attacked in R2 and not directly having taken on and since this isn't yet the last Round I'm entitled to bring in a new(ish) line of attack still. The issue I have with Pro's R1 syllogism is that the only qualifying factor that the foetus has to call it what he put as a 'full fledged member of the human community' is that its species is human in its DNA. To call anyone or anything a full-fledged member of the human community is to break PF but it's quite blatantly false to call a foetus that is pre-20-weeks gestation a full fledged member of the human community regardless of us pushing past PF to realise this. The foetus hasn't contributed to society how the mother has, nor does society (or ' human community of the world') owe it existence at all. I suppose what Pro was trying to say is that all wars and examples where some humans of one 'community' have killed others either in or outside of their 'community' is all examples of Prima Facie immoral acts but this is a raw assumption based on Gandhi-type philosophy that has yet to be justified as anything other than raw assertion. Killing a being that happens to be of a specific species is somehow less moral and Prima Facie beyond reprehension just because of said species according to Pro but this has to be explained as more than 'killing humans is obviously wrong'. 

I think what the best part of this is, is that I was ready to attack his syllogism and angle differently than I did in R2 except that Pro shot himself in the foot in R2 by using a quoted reasoning that directly excludes the killing itself (wrongly called murder as abortion is only murder if it's already illegal beforehand) as being the thing that's evil. It also excluded the psychological aftermath to the killer themselves as being the reason it's wrong. I am quite certain that Pro meant to solely add on a way that killing is wrong but what Pro did was lazily, or willingly and actively, quote a line of reasoning that has now left me supported by Pro on the idea that the killing of the being and the aftermath to the one killing are not the issue with the act. I addressed why the denial of experience, especially in most cases of abortion, is a net-good as the experiences being prevented are those of a miserable life ahead by Prima Facie depth analysis but also if one analysed further, statistically and psychologically into the mother and how she'd raise the child or give it up to foster care and/or adoption which... Well that's breaking PF to analyse so let's stop there. You get the point.

I stand by all my previous points, concede nothing further and want to basically say that the only thing Pro thinks is necessary to quality someone as a 'full fledged member of human community' is that they have human DNA. This means two entirely opposed nations to one another are part of the exact same community and if one goes to war with the other, the other should not fight back or, alternatively, the aggressor is wrong no matter the reason they are fighting (perhaps to free the people of the other nation or whatever else justification they have), Pro says that both are automatically immoral, period, no further questioning. This is not at all correct and if, even in a shallow PF-reasoned outlook, killing humans was inherently in and of itself immoral, the death penalty would never have been a thing and yet it was. It was actually only once we began to reason past PF-thinking that we realised a better justice system and means of making people rehabilitate is better (which is still shockingly bad at doing what it's meant to do, the prison system needs massive reform I don't deny this).
Round 4
I totally forgot about tbis. Vote do.  
I have proven how the significance of the mother being denied the escape from suffering pregnancy having a chain reaction to Prima Facie (PF) lead us, via macro-statistical analysis, to realise that the child (which is just a drop in the ocean's chance of existing anyway) will themselves be having a negative experience in life overall due to the mother not only being frustrated during pregnancy but many other factors of how the child may end up as a result of the mother having to give up either the child or her life in terms of career and/or other ways health-wise to cope with the child (it's harder to cope when you're poor due to having to quit university or career but that's beyond PF so I won't go into that).

I have proven, also, how Pro's morality self-defeats since Pro says it's wrong to kill all being with human DNA but justifies this as worrying about full fledged members of the human community. The mother has been and is a full fledged member of her 'human community' far more so than the foetus pre-20-weeks-gestation is. I also brought into question what qualifies something as being valid to live at the sake of something it is a parasite to and implored Pro to explain why he is not preaching vegetarianism or anti-contraception and anti-masturbation mentality here. At least if Pro was consistent in loathing all ways of denying life, Pro could begin to have a consistent system of morality to then apply, Prima Facie, to abortion and render it evil/wrong.

If the abortion is such an insignificant reduction of the amount of humans who end up existing in a macro-sense and also nets a prevention of chain-reaction of several generations of working class people with too many children all having negative experiences far more than a positive one, via PF probabilistic analysis (so not situation-specific), then Pro's Round 2 reasoning is not just negated, it backfires to support Con.

If one sits back, taking in the big picture and then looks at a world with elective abortion legalised, one sees a world where the poor, who may have gambled on 'pulling out' or simply lacked good education on contraception as well as taking less 'pills' so as to save cash, are able to have a 'way out' before being burdened with a child who either will end up in crappy foster care or end up at the hands of someone who can barely take care of themselves, let alone one (or multiple) children for every mistaken sexual encounter they have. I didn't even go into the scenarios of rape because it's not PF but what I did do was go into the suffering of the women and what-not due to the forced pregnancy and what that screws up in their life-plans among many other factors at play hormonally ; both physiologically and psychologically.

I conclude that elective abortion is Prima Facie morally sound/fine. If anything, it leans far more to net-good than net-bad. You can only call it evil by pushing past Prima Facie and analysing specific cases where the child was likely to have had a good life overall and was denied it but I asserted this to be statistically small and Pro never once negated it, on top of that I proved through a lot of research and mathematics in Round 1, done by Dr. Ali Binazir, that there's so little chance of anyone existing and that this rarity is the very source from which we value life that we don't owe anyone existence nor should it matter unless we push past Prima Facie into a human-extinction scenario.