Instigator / Pro

Some deadbeat parents should be sterilized.


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

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After 2 votes and with 11 points ahead, the winner is...

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Contender / Con

1) I waive the first round and my opponent waived the last round.

I sense I’m going to lose this debate because I’m going against someone who is very smart and I think some voters will be biased against me (like Wylted). Because of this and other reasons, this debate is unrated.

Round 1
Per the big girl rules of this debate, I waive this round.
Pro, by virtue of skipping his first round, cedes any “plan making” authority. Otherwise, he could circumvent all of my points by saying “my plan won’t do that.” Obviously, this is an abusive debate tactic, as it requires me to respond to a plan before it’s been presented to me. How could I possibly offer objections to a plan that has yet to be presented?


I define deadbeat parents as “parents who abandon their parental responsibility to their children.” This is in line with the forum post which inspired this debate (which I rely on in lieu of a constructive case from Pro).Reneging on childcare responsibilities would fall under this broad umbrella.

It is still the norm to want offspring in the US (7). Pro takes away this choice a) arbitrarily (the resolution states that only “some deadbeats” will be sterilized without distinguishing between a deadbeat who requires sterilization and one that doesn’t), b) without redress (it is unlikely for someone to become fecund after sterilization), and c), without a proportional cause, (the requisite condition for sterilization is being a deadbeat, which isn’t a crime in itself, and is certainly not proportionate to the punishment).

In recognition of this abrogation of personal liberty, I ask that Pro demonstrate the need for his policy. It is true that society necessitates some sacrifice of personal liberties. However, there is usually an underlying purpose: that it presents a public good which overrides whatever inconvenience such a sacrifice imposes in a society. Ergo, I advocate for a simple net benefits analysis. If I can prove that there is no net benefit to Pro’s advocacy, or that there is a net cost, then judges should feel comfortable voting Con.

C1: Health Complications

a.       Unhappy Marriages

Pro forces couples to choose between sterilization and unhappy marriages. Remember, most child support payments go uncollected, mostly because divorce renders people destitute (14). Ergo, most divorcees can be reasonably certain that they will renege at some point on their childcare responsibilities. To make the decision harder, Pro adds another hurdle to contend with: mandatory sterilization. Most people still want to bear their future progeny (7). Furthermore, there are health complications to sterilization procedures (which I discuss below). These factors combined deter people from leaving unhappy marriages to stay fertile.

In 2004, the AARP published a study cataloguing the most common reasons for divorce in older couples. The research unearthed facts about domestic violence’s role in ending older Americans’ marriages, to wit, verbal, physical, and emotional abuse was the “foremost” reason for divorce in the hundreds of older Americans surveyed, being present in over 30% of marriages(1, p. 20). According to another study of 886 divorcees in 2012, physical violence was an important reason for divorce in 13% of marriages (2, p. 456). Domestic violence constitutes a not insignificant reason for divorce in the US.  

Even non-violent marriages produce poor health outcomes for spouses if one or both partners are unhappy (3, p. 464). Researchers at the University of Nevada and Michigan studied over 300 couples for 16 years to see what effect mere disputes (not physical violence, only disagreements) had on the health of married people. The researchers found that conflict-prone marriages induced health problems which interfered with work at a higher rate than happy marriages (4). Researchers also noted that physiological changes in the body, including inflammation and the release of stress hormones, can be linked to unhappy marriages too (4). Cardiovascular health indicators (i.e. cholesterol levels, unhealthy levels of smoking and drinking, strokes, etc.) also suggest that unhappy spouses are susceptible to worse heart health (5).

If people are deterred from divorcing when they are threatened with sterilization, then Pro dooms many people to unhappy relationships, physical violence, and health problems. It’s not just the spouses either. Unhappy marriages can hurt children too. Co-occurring child abuse is 15 times as prevalent in households where spousal violence is present(9). Also, children witness 68% - 80% of domestic assaults (10). Child victims/witnesses of child abuse are more likely to become abusers or victims later in life, are prone to substance abuse, and display anti-social, often aggressive behavior (9,10).

b.       Sterilization Health Consequences

The most common sterilization procedures are tubal ligations and vasectomies. Under Pro’s plan, the use of these procedures would increase, exposing patients to opioids. The Mayo Clinic estimates that between 1% and 2% of men who get a vasectomy experience chronic pain (8). Opioids are often prescribed to patients who undergo vasectomies (11). A survey from medical journal Andrologia found that over 50% of sampled urologists prescribed opioids to vasectomized patients(11). Another study, from the Journal of Urology, found that opioid use was persistent in 8% of the 200 subjects studied (12). Patients were sometimes given upwards of 40 opioid tablets, and many of these pills were stashed (12). The total number of excess pills was between 500 and 900 in the 200-person study (12). Women, too, are prescribed a significant number of pills after tubal ligation. The Journal of the American Medical Assoc. in 2019 published a study which found that postpartum opioid dependence was heavily linked to tubal ligation or having one’s “tubes tied” after giving birth (13). Most opioid abusers report receiving their first dose from a peer or relative for free, so this large stash of pills is an untapped reservoir of addiction (12) (16 “results” tab). What’s scariest about opioid abuse is that patients taking a single does carry a risk of long-term opioid addiction, and this risk increases when continually used over a short amount time (15, “discussion” tab).
Not only does Pro’s plan increase opioid addiction in the sterilized population, but he also increases opioid addiction throughout society. Remember, most opioid addicts get their first dose from family members and friends. By forcefully sterilizing so many people, Pro inadvertently prescribes stockpiles of opioids that end up getting shared with others. The natural result: more overdoses.

Sources in Comments

Round 2
Here is my justification for the sterilization of some deadbeat parents.  Contrary to what I said earlier, I don't think ALL deadbeats should be sterilized as this would encompass people who set their kids up for adoption (they are also technically deadbeats).  But I think if you ditch your parenting responsibilities of a kid that is 2 years of age or older, you would be punished with sterilization.  This means that you can set your kid up for adoption provided they are less than 2 years old and not face punishment, which that is when kids are often set up for adoption unless their parents were abusive. I have not read my opponent's argument yet but I will rebut it in the next round.  My justifications for this policy are the following:

Justification 1:It reduces the abortion rate 

The abortion rate is falling and this is something that most pro choicers and pro lifers can celebrate.  However, 48% of abortions happen because of the fear of being a single mother(1).  If a deterrence for being a deadbeat parent was implemented, then you will see less single mothers which will cause a reduction in the abortion rate.

Justification 2:This idea reduces the poverty rate and therefore the need for the welfare state.

(2) states that 31% of single mother homes are living below the poverty line, compared with 6% for married couples.  If fathers have to stay with their kids under threat of sterilization, this will cause them to stay with their kids, get their families out of poverty, and this policy would drastically reduce the need for the welfare state since taxpayers don't have to fund the living expenses of the kids created by deadbeats, but instead the kid's living expenses would be paid for by their parent.

Justification 3:This idea is better for the youth growing up in homes academically, which allows them to do better in school.

(3) states that 71% of highschool dropouts are done by kids who get raised by single moms.  In addition for these kids ending up on the welfare system, they often drop out of highschool for 2 reasons:

1) They might be the oldest male in the family and they have younger siblings to take care of.  Managing a family is tough and often the female loses the endurance of raising kids (you probably would too if you had to do it all by yourself) so she would often delegate things to the oldest male in the family.

2) They don't have second parent to help them out with HW.  In my house, I was lucky enough to have a dad that helped me out with the vast majority of my HW.  Not everyone has this luxury unfortunately.  If my Dad didn't know the content, I could turn to my Mom for help and vice versa.  Youth that grow up in single motherhood homes don't have this luxury.  If their mom doesn't know the content, they rarely go to a teacher for help and they end up getting terrible grades in their classes, which causes them to want to dropout of school.  This is why we see 71% of all highschool dropouts being done by youth raised in single motherhood homes.

Justification 4: This will reduce the incarceration rate in the long term.

In 1987, single motherhood was much more rare than it is now.  Despite that, in 1987, 70% of people in custody grew up without both parents in the house (4).  Now in 2021, it's safe to say that with single motherhood on the rise(5) that this proportion of people in jail that grew up in single motherhood homes would be even higher than this.  Attempting to end single motherhood by punishing deadbeat dads more harshly would help reduce single motherhood and reduce the long term incarceration rate.

Justification 5: This idea disproportionally benefits African American and Hispanic American youth.

5 states that black and Hispanic youth are more likely to end up in single motherhood homes.  Ending single motherhood would benefit them the most, helping to reduce long term racial inequality by restoring the family unit.

Justification 6: Child support isn't enough to ensure that a kid in a single motherhood home has a comparable poverty and incarceration rate to someone living in a home with 2 parents.

The majority of child support is paid (6).  Are we seeing kids do better?  No; they don't have a male role model in the home and this is what causes children who are raised in these conditions to be in worse conditions (whether those children are male or female)(7)

Justification 7:This prevents deadbeat parents from marrying someone else, getting them pregnant, and ditching again, so this idea reduces single motherhood.

This is perhaps the main reason why I support this policy; deadbeat parents destroyed one family previously by creating single motherhood within the home.  Sterilization is the only way there can be a 100% chance that these deadbeat parents never cause another family to be raised by a single mother.


Sterilizing deadbeat dads is necessary to provide a deterrence to single motherhood.  Single motherhood is something that should be eliminated because it would reduce the abortion rate, the poverty rate and therefore the need for a welfare state, it allows kids to do better in school both academically and behaviorally, the incarceration rate would fall in the long term if there is less behavioral problems and less poverty, this disproportionally benefits blacks and Hispanics because they suffer the most from single motherhood, which is why we see so many blacks and Hispanics in jail compared to whites and Asians, child support isn't enough of a punishment for deadbeats, and it prevents the deadbeats from destroying another family through single motherhood.


Extend my critique of late-round plan-making as it is unaddressed by Pro.

Abortion Rate

Pro argues that the threat of sterilization will deter mothers from abortion since, according to Pro, “48% of abortions happen because of the fear of being a single mother.”

His evidence is inconclusive. The actual citation he used says that nearly half of women cited “relationship problems or a desire to avoid single motherhood” as one of their abortion reasons” (1). I found the study that Pro took this statistic from, and he leaves out vital information. Researchers of the Guttmacher Institute (which Pro derives the “48%” figure from) asked women the most important reason they decided to abort. A quarter of respondents cited financial difficulties, while only 8% cited the fear of single motherhood or relationship problems (2).

Pro loses much of his offense on this point because his evidence contradicts the assertion that single motherhood is the foremost driver of abortion.


Pro avers that his plan reduces poverty by deterring single motherhood, which, in turn, reduces welfare spending.
Cross-apply my previous contention concerning the prescription of opioids. Remember that most opioid addicts get their first dose from friends and families. Pill stashes are one convenient source of addiction, and sterilization procedures lead to over-prescription of opioids. Opioid abuse costs the US economy over $70 billion dollars every year (3). Finally, cross-apply my contention concerning the health consequences of unhappy/abusive relationships that are deterred from splitting up under the threat of sterilization. An article published in the Journal of Clinical Studies found that the risk of stroke in men unsatisfied with their marriage increased by nearly 70% (4, p. 4). That nationwide cost of strokes per year is $45 billion dollars (5). Pro forces these relationships to continue under the threat of sterilization.

Over half of people in low-income families with children live in a married-couple household (6, p. 8). Marriage is no panacea for poverty. At best, Pro’s impact is nil, at worst, poverty increases due to the opioid and health impacts.


Pro indicates that high-school dropouts are more likely to be raised by single parents. He deters parents from splitting apart by the threat of compulsory sterilization.

Turn this impact. He exacerbates this problem by placing children in households with domestic abuse, as I’ve evinced in my first contention. Children are affected by domestic violence too. They are more likely to display anti-social, aggressive, and delinquent tendencies stemming from exposure to abuse (7,8). Exposure to domestic violence and child abuse (which is ubiquitous in households where domestic violence is present) is associated with cognitive delays, too (10, p. 545). Hypersensitivity to anger stemming from domestic violence blocks out “attentional resources for mastering age-appropriate skills in social and cognitive domains” (11). Therefore, Pro’s plan confines vulnerable children to anxiety inducing households which compromise their critical faculties.


Pro posits that children of single parent households are more likely to become criminals, and the forced sterilization will deter deadbeat parents from leaving.

Cross-apply my first contention. Pro prevents abusive relationships from ending for the sake of children. Children are abused at 15 times the rate in households where intimate partner violence is present (10). Victims of child abuse are likely perpetrators later in life, or in other words, criminals (7,8).

Pro cites data from the 1980s. He also never offers a causal mechanism. Why do single-parent households result in more crime? It’s not simply the presence of a father which improves child health and behavior. A study of the Big Brothers of America, a program which sends out male peers to foster companionship with kids from single-parent households, found that the peers had a null effect on grades, self-esteem, or positive relationships with their single parents (12). If the presence of a father figure cannot improve child behavior, why do we think that mere marriage can do the trick?


Pro claims that minorities are benefitted most by this plan because single-parent households are disproportionately Black and Latino.
In other words, Pro claims that disproportionately sterilizing Black men and women is a net positive. Cross-apply all my health harms (i.e. opioids, heart health, etc.) he is subjecting Black and Latino families disproportionately and turn this impact.

Male Role Model

Pro opines that male role models are important for children to have, and divorce takes those role models away.
A study of over 2,000 lesbian couples found that children of same-sex parents tend to outperform their peers from heterosexual relationships in primary and secondary education (13). A survey of 79 studies from Cornell found little difference in overall child wellbeing (14).
Pro also claims that most child support payments are made. His source says billions of dollars’ worth of child support payments are missing.

Deadbeats Won’t Get Others Pregnant

No data is available backing up the number of people starting successive families after the first relationship didn’t work out. I’m tight on space, so I await Pro to provide evidence before refuting it.

Lack of Offense

Pro’s benefits are theoretical at best. He prescribes coerced marriages in lieu of single motherhood. While data supports that single motherhood is not an ideal family structure and that marriage is better, Pro never considers the effect that coercion has on couples’ health. Forced sterilization is supposed to coax would-be deadbeats into marriages according to Pro. If deadbeat parents are willing to ditch a child, at least until their gonads are under threat, are the marriages Pro intends to make healthy, happy, or safe? Given the health implications I delineate in my constructive argument, the answer appears to be no. In addition, studies show that spouses in forced marriages are more likely to suffer from mental health problems (15) (16). Previously discussed abuse accounts for some of this, but the loss in autonomous decision making contributes to feelings of hopelessness too. People who feel in control of their decisions are more likely to report positive mental health and vice versa (17, 18).

Sources in Comments

Round 3
My plan is that the penalty for ditching the parental responsibilities of any kid 2 years of age or older would merit sterilization.  This allows for people to set their kid up for adoption provided they do so within the 2 year time frame but would punish a parent who abandons their parenting responsibilities for a kid that is older and therefore is going to suffer more because children without 2 parents for the later years of their life suffer more than children without parents for the earlier but not later years of their life (provided the number of years is the same) because HW in older years becomes more dependent on parental help than HW in younger years.


I'd say the definition of a deadbeat is fair for this debate.

For deadbeat parents, it is probably not the norm to want offspring since they ditched their offspring.

I think people can still be productive with sterilization.

Being a deadbeat is already a crime as the current punishment is child support.  I just don't think this punishment is enough since kids still suffer in single motherhood homes due to lack of help with HW and more disciplinary problems when the kids turn into adults.

Remember, most child support payments go uncollected, mostly because divorce renders people destitute (14).
Con's 14th source goes to studies that talk about homosexual parents with kids, not a source about child support.  I fail to see what your referencing.

Most divorces wouldn't inheritely result in one party getting sterilized because of how I would tend to yield child caring rights; to both parents.  If both parents want to take care of the kids and they are both competent to do so, I would encourage judges to let both parents take care of the kids so neither is a deadbeat, neither has to get sterilized, and both the parents and the kids are happy as a result.  The only parents that would get sterilized are those that willingly ditch their parental responsibilities, ie people that don't want more kids, either because they never wanted kids or they learned their lesson about why they don't want to take care of kids.  People can still divorce without one of the parents getting sterilized if they split custody of their kids.

Any deadbeat parent that doesn't want to take care of his kids anymore would welcome sterilization because they get to have sex without having to take care of kids (if they wanted to take care of kids, they wouldn't have willingly abandon their parental responsibilities).

The research unearthed facts about domestic violence’s role in ending older Americans’ marriages, to wit, verbal, physical, and emotional abuse was the “foremost” reason for divorce in the hundreds of older Americans surveyed, being present in over 30% of marriages(1, p. 20). According to another study of 886 divorcees in 2012, physical violence was an important reason for divorce in 13% of marriages (2, p. 456). Domestic violence constitutes a not insignificant reason for divorce in the US.  
A lot of this violence stems from childcare as before kids you weren't abusive, and after kids, you are abusive.  If your an abusive partner because of your kids, then it's pretty obvious you wouldn't want to reproduce again because you learned how tough parenting is for you.

In terms of non violent marriages that end in divorce, assuming both parents are competent to continue raising their kid(s), the judge would rule that the parents split custody and as a result, neither party gets sterilized. 

b.       Sterilization Health Consequences

The most common sterilization procedures are tubal ligations and vasectomies. Under Pro’s plan, the use of these procedures would increase, exposing patients to opioids.
I fail to see how vasectomizing male deadbeat parents would lead to significantly more opioid use.

The Mayo Clinic estimates that between 1% and 2% of men who get a vasectomy experience chronic pain (8).
If 98 to 99% of men who get vastectomies don't experience chronic pain at all, I fail to see why this policy can't be implemented.  The ones that experience chronic pain can buy weed at their local weed store and that can get rid of a lot of the pain they experience.  Weed is safer than opioids.

Opioids are often prescribed to patients who undergo vasectomies (11). A survey from medical journal Andrologia found that over 50% of sampled urologists prescribed opioids to vasectomized patients(11). Another study, from the Journal of Urology, found that opioid use was persistent in 8% of the 200 subjects studied (12). Patients were sometimes given upwards of 40 opioid tablets, and many of these pills were stashed (12). The total number of excess pills was between 500 and 900 in the 200-person study (12). Women, too, are prescribed a significant number of pills after tubal ligation.
Is there a reason why the patients aren't prescribed cannabis to deal with the pain they experience?  The vastectomy process is fine for the vast majority of people;  Vasectomies: Why U.S. Men Don't Get Them ( states that 10% of American males get vastectomies and the rate is double in Canada and the UK. My point is the vast majority of people can get vastectomies and they will end up fine.  Most will even benefit if they don't like taking care of kids because they can have all the recreational sex they want and not have to parent a kid.

5 things women should know about getting their tubes tied ( states that getting one's tubes tied is , "a safe procedure with little risk of complications".


At the beginning of this debate, I offered a critique of late-round plan-making. After round 1, Pro sets up a plan which includes parameters I couldn’t have been privy to since he didn’t go first to explain them. Without all the cards on the table, I am flying blind while Pro places obstacles in front of me (i.e. trying to obviate my points from the debate by “yielding child caring rights to both parents”). When he does this, feel free to preclude it from the debate. He has not challenged the fact that adding additional plan details is unfair, so he essentially drops this argument.


Pro says that my source went to the wrong site. This is because he checked the wrong comment. I put sources in the comments twice: one comment for the 1st round, and one comment for the 2nd. I labeled the 2nd round sources, too.

Childcare Rights Yielded to Both Parents

Pro added additional details to his plan here. See above for why this is poor debate etiquette and should be disregarded.
Less than half of child support payments are made in full (1). Or, as I put it earlier, “most child support payments go uncollected.” I guess we could split hairs about whether a partial payment counts, but if I owe you $200 dollars and I pay $20 dollars, you’d probably not count that as a “collected payment.” If divorcees renege on their payments, they are also reneging on their parental responsibilities. Child support payments are determined by local courts in accordance with the individual needs of the child and include healthcare and education costs (2). Until the child turns 18, these costs are provided by parents, not 4-year-olds. Ergo, it is a parental responsibility. And so, most divorcees would be sterilized.

Domestic Violence

Pro asserts, without evidence, that domestic violence usually sets in after children are born. Furthermore, he asserts that abusive parents do not want to reproduce again. I don’t feel the need to refute ipse dixits. I’ll humor you though. Per a study conducted by Martin et al. in the Journal of the American Medical Assoc., the pre-birth domestic abuse rate is 2 times larger than the post-birth rate (3).

I don’t see how this matters though. He doesn’t make an exception for domestic abuse victims. Under the definition provided, divorcees “abandon” their parental responsibilities. Pro makes it very clear that divorce, unless custody is shared, carries a sentence of sterilization for both parents. Even if only the abusive partner is sterilized (which doesn’t appear to be what Pro had in mind), the inability to pay child support inhibits the non-abusive parent’s ability to care for their children. As Pro makes clear, single mothers have it rough (although, as I've pointed out in the previous round, marriage is no silver bullet for poverty). A single parent needs to scrape together over $200,000 to raise 2 children to the age of 18, which doesn’t even factor in college costs or significant disabilities (4, ii). If single mothers are incapable of caring for their children, they too will be sterilized under the definition I provided which Pro agreed to (granted, I took this definition from the forum post which inspired the debate, so it’s really Pro’s). He tries to add the word “willful,” so that only “willful” neglect is penalized, but he never presented any definitions before this round, and determining whether an inability to pay is willful or not is hard. How do we factor in unemployment? If it were possible for a child-support payer to sell their organs or sperm to pay for a child-support payment, would not doing so mean they willfully reneged on their payment? These are questions which are better suited to subjective interpretation and should not spell the difference between sterilization and non. Such a laissez-faire distinction could lead to unethical outcomes, such as impoverished divorcees being sterilized simply because they were too poor to pay up.

Health Complications

Pro drops that mere unhappy marriages tend to worsen heart health in partners. Extend this across the debate.

Pro recommends that urologists prescribe marijuana instead of opioids.

Cross-apply my critique of late-round plan-making. He drops the impact of opioid stashing and abuse, and since he can’t change his plan, extend it across the debate. Incidentally, Pro’s fix-it-in-post predilection might have made things worse for him. While it is true that cannabis has medicinal value, there is still danger in prescribing it. A review of 67 studies analyzing the effect of marijuana usage found that the drug worsens memory, increases the chance of having a stroke, increases the risk of testicular cancer, increases mental illnesses, and led to suicide in many of the patients studied (5).

Difference in Coerced/Uncoerced Marriages

Extend this point. I discuss it more in the conclusion.


Remember my framework. Under a net-benefits framework, Pro needs to present evidence showing that the benefit provided by his plan outweighs the harm. Pro’s offense is lackluster at best. He never contests the differences between coerced and uncoerced marriages. That’s a problem. For the benefits of marriage to manifest, he needs to prove that there really is no difference between coerced and uncoerced marriages. I presented evidence to the contrary.

Moreover, I raised considerable doubt about each of his 8 justifications. All of these go unaddressed. Extend them across the debate.

Finally, I must discuss my case. Without carving out an exception to abuse, the threat of sterilization will deter couples from leaving. Invariably, this means that abusive relationships, which ordinarily lead to divorce, are prevented from breaking up because both partners fear sterilization. To avoid this, couples will stay together per Pro’s logic. I do not dispute this. Who suffers? The children, who witness the domestic violence, and the spouses, who suffer direct physical/emotional abuse both suffer.

Pro also needs to contend with opioid stashing and subsequent abuse. When people undergo sterilization procedures, they are more likely than not going to be prescribed opioids. These opioids can turn into habits for people who take them, and, if stashed away, tend to be shared with others.

With a vanishingly small offense advanced by Pro, I urge the judges to vote Con.

Sources in Comments
Round 4
Waived because I'm too busy with summer work to finish a round.  Voters should consider this.
Per the rules, I waive.