Should abortion be legal?

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By abortion here we mean induced abortion in the first trimester. The first trimester is a conventional time length meant to distinguish the period in which a fetus is totally dependent on the mother, from the rest of the pregnancy, in which the fetus may survive without her. There is no sudden transformation happening on the day 90 of the pregnancy, just as there is no sudden transformation when we turn 18 and become legal adults. A fetus doesn't suddenly become independent on the 90 day mark, just as a person doesn't suddenly become an adult on the 18th birthday. These conventions are educated decisions necessary for legal reasons.


Arguments for[edit]

  • During the first trimester, the fetus is attached to the mother by the placenta and umbilical cord, its health is dependent on her health, and cannot be regarded as a separate entity as it cannot exist outside her womb. Therefore, it is part of her body, and it's up to her what she does with her own body.
    • A fetus, however, has its own unique genetic code, so it is not part of a woman's body. To claim that it is is to deny the individuality of a unique organism.
    • Applying this same logic, one would have to come to the determination that people on artificial life support has no individual right to life because of its dependence on something other than itself for survival.
    • This is also true of the second and third trimesters. Although a newborn baby is not physically attached to the mother, newborns also cannot survive independent of an adult meeting its every need for several years. This argument applies equally to later-trimester scenarios and infanticide.
      • The infant and foetus, in the case of late-stage pregnancies, is dependant on another individual but is capable of surviving external from her body. The infant, if separated from the mother, could still be nourished.
  • Fetuses in the first trimester are incapable of feeling pain, having future goals, and are not conscious. All of those conditions are good reasons to value the life of something, but something that does not meet them is not valuable.
    • By the third month of pregnancy, a fetus is well-developed,[1] with most of its organs fully developed or at least functioning.
    • If something has the potential of having a valuable life, then it is valuable, and fetuses have the potential of having a valuable life.
      • A 'valuable life' is completely and totally subjective. Potentiality (the basis of the 'future like ours' defense) is not a sufficient defense in the first trimester as there is no way of knowing if or how many complications can occur that drastically decrease a person's quality of life or existential awareness. Whether or not a fetus is valuable doesn't mean that it is entitled to rights that a born valuable person is not entitled to.
        • However, a born human is entitled to the right to live out of its very humanity. And, because fetuses are alive (they meet all seven characteristics of life [2]), and human, they are entitled to this. It is not at all subjective--even a murderer's life is considered valuable because life derives its value from its very nature.
  • A fetus in the first trimester is not capable of living without the support of the mother's physical body. Opponents of abortion legality argue that the fetus is entitled to the 'right to life' under the guise of equality. It is not equality because the right to life and the right to life support are profoundly different. A fetus in the first trimester should not be entitled to rights at the woman's expense that born people are not entitled to.
    • If the right to live is intrinsically more important than the right to avoid the inconveniences of pregnancy, then one ought to prioritize the former over the latter and give fetuses their right to live, which would indeed be violated by abortion.
  • If you prohibit abortion, women will just do it anyways.
    • By this logic, every law that is currently being broken (rape, murder, arson, etc.) should be struck down.
      • There is a big difference with abortion, because they will do it anyways because they NEED to do it. Therefore having it prohibited goes against their needs and rights.
        • Most pregnant women don't NEED to abort. A few may need to due to health reasons, but most would be able to live through the pregnancy, give birth and continue to have a healthy life. There is no need to abort, just a strong desire.
          • Even beyond whether it is a need or just a want, they may feel as though they have no choice due to circumstance. If they exist in an environment that would be exceedingly hostile to their situation (take for example a country under Sharia Law where this child would be born out of wedlock) it would still endanger her hope of, as you say, a healthy life. Furthermore, the act of abortion without medical support CAN AND WILL endanger her life, in the case of injury if she attempts to abort the fetus through any intrusive method, or accidental poisoning through homeopathic methods. By and large, it would save far more lives to have abortion be legal.
        • Some people have mental illnesses that cause them to NEED to burn down buildings, kill people, or steal shiny objects (i.e. kleptomania).
      • The only kind of law that is comparable to an anti-abortion law would be one in which organ and blood donations are mandatory. Forcing one person to be a life support system for another person should never be legal.
        • Let's carry this argument further: Is a parent forced to spend their money to provide for a child once it has been born? Yes. Is a parent required to spend their time providing for the care of a child? Yes. As such, parents have an obligation to protect for the lives of their children, one which is already enshrined in law.
  • Nobody is touting abortion as a primary means of birth control. It should be a last resort only. Regardless of your take on a fetus being a living entity or not we have to acknowledge life is not perfect, bad things happen and sometimes abortion is the least bad option, for instance, for health reasons, pregnancy due to rape and incest, and sometimes just lack of other birth control. Having children has a profound life altering effect which can be seriously deleterious to the mother and this, unpalatable, option is the best of the bad outcomes available in most cases.
    • Firstly, adoption services already exist. If a mother wishes not to raise the child, these seem like a much more palatable option than killing a fetus that could go on to do great things.
    • Less than 0.5% of abortions are due to rape and/or incest, while a combined 7% were due to health concerns for either the fetus or the mother. [3] This leaves over 92% of abortions for other reasons.
  • In the book Freakanomics the author finds a potential link between abortion being legalized and a portion of the crime reduction that occurred a generation later.
    • And? If abortion is legal, fewer people are receiving illegal abortions. Makes sense to me. What specific crimes does abortion curtail?
  • Nobody is obliged to save someone else, everybody has the right to use their body as she wishes hence she can choose not to save someone who is depended on her against her free will. Everybody is acting this way, as children in Africa die of hunger everyday and we (in the West) don't feel responsible to help, meaning not helping the dying is a moral norm.
    • This is an argument against any and all moral progress or reform: what ought to be cannot be inferred from what is.
      • No, it is a moral argument for personal autonomy. We have the right use our body as we want, unless we hurt someone else, unless that someone else is hurting us some way.
        • This is precisely the argument: abortion will hurt someone else. It kills someone else's body.
          • That someone else is in a woman's body without her consent. Forcing her to save him is a violation of her rights.
            • You would be killing that someone else without his consent. Also, most women who get pregnant—although definitely not all—do consent to being pregnant. Either way, the "intruder" argument doesn't work because the person "intruding" didn't just arrive unannounced and barge in, which is the defining characteristic of an intruder.
              • The vast majority of legal killings are against the victim's consent. Merriam Webster has a different definition for intruder than the forementioned.

Arguments against[edit]

  • According to the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, killing a pregnant woman at any stage in the pregnancy is legally a double homicide. The law defines "child in utero" as "a member of the species Homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb". Therefore, under current (United States) Federal law, abortion at any stage of development is murder of a member of the species Homo sapiens, which is illegal.[4]
    • The debate is not about what the current laws are, but about what the laws should be.
      • Current legal precedent has it that a fetus is therefore a child, proving that Federal Legal precedent stands on the side of fetal personhood. Certainly this matters.
    • The fact that fetuses are members of the species Homo sapiens has no bearing on the moral considerations of abortion.
      • If someone is a human, their life has value, since no one on either side has provided contrary information.
  • Since life begins at conception, abortion is akin to murder as it is the act of taking human life. No civilized society permits one human to intentionally harm or take the life of another human without punishment, and abortion is no different.
    • All civilized societies accept causing death to another man/clan/group of people. It is the norm since prehistoric times. We have even institutionalized violence that can produce death (police, army). So, taking someone's life is accepted under certain conditions.
      • This is a questionable standard. Generally, we only inflict violence on others when they have caused violence. Generally, it is not acceptable to bring death to creatures who have not intentionally caused physical harm.
    • The concept of personhood is different from the concept of human life. Human life occurs at conception, but under this definition, fertilized eggs used for in vitro fertilization are also human lives. Yet those not implanted are routinely thrown away, and no one considers that murder. So why should we consider early abortion murder?
      • Because this is a point in which a human is alive. An unfertilized egg is not alive, as it cannot reproduce. To the contrary, a fetus grows and develops, reproduces, responds to stimuli, is made of cells, and uses energy, thereby making it alive.
  • Many citizens who pay taxes are opposed to abortion, therefore it's morally wrong to use tax money to fund abortion.
    • Taxpayer dollars are used to enable poor women to access the same medical services as rich women, and abortion is one of these services. Funding abortion is no different from funding a war in the Mideast. For those who are opposed, the place to express outrage is in the voting booth.
    • Many citizens who pay taxes are opposed to central government. But we can't defund the government.
  • Some would say that abortion should be legal for cases of rape or incest. But for such cases, proper medical care can ensure that a woman will not get pregnant. Abortion punishes the unborn child who committed no crime; instead, it is the perpetrator who should be punished.
    • Often a rape victim is too afraid to speak up or is unaware of being pregnant, thus the morning after pill is ineffective in these situations.
      • Rape accounts for less than 0.5% of abortion cases. It is the exception, not the rule. We are debating the rules for all abortions, be they elective or in-elective. To take such a narrow approach would be disastrous.
        • This doesn't matter. Against brought up rape.
    • If the woman has already been inseminated by the crime, any way of making her no longer pregnant is an abortion.
  • An abortion can result in medical complications later in life; the risk of ectopic pregnancies doubles, the chance of a miscarriage and pelvic inflammatory disease also increases, not to mention intense psychological pain and stress. A procedure so risky shouldn't be supported by making it legal.
    • Abortion is a safe medical procedure. The vast majority of women (88%) who have an abortion do so in their first trimester. Medical abortions have less than 0.5% risk of serious complications and do not affect a woman's health or future ability to become pregnant or give birth.
      • Many women point towards significant emotional burdens left after abortion. Indeed, it is not the "pro-woman" option. This is even given a term--"post-abortion syndrome."
        • WP's article clarifies it: When abortion is performed legal and safe, there is no significant emotional burden.
          • Such is not true [5]
  • Adoption is a viable alternative to abortion and accomplishes the same result. And with 1.5 million American families wanting to adopt a child,[citation needed] there is no such thing as an unwanted child.
    • Adoption is not an alternative to abortion, because it remains the woman's choice whether or not to give her child up for adoption. Statistics show that very few women who give birth choose to give up their babies—less than 3% of white unmarried women and less than 2% of black unmarried women.
      • It still is a viable alternative--women have a viable, and usually low-cost choice which doesn't kill a child. Whether they choose to follow through on this is their own choice, but that doesn't diminish the option.
        • No child is being killed during an abortion. The point is that Women have a right to choose not to give birth.
          • Again, a fetus is alive, as it meets all of the generally accepted qualities of life, and contains its own individual DNA.


Votes for[edit]

Votes against[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  4. The law is codified in two sections of the United States Code: Title 18, Chapter 1 (Crimes), §1841 (18 USC 1841) and Title 10, Chapter 22 (Uniform Code of Military Justice) §919a (Article 119a).
  5. "Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) - Does It Exist?". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2017-11-16.