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. By the end of third month of pregnancy, a fetus is well-developed,[1] with most of its organs fully developed or at least functioning. 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 officially 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.

This debate assumes that murder should be illegal.

Abortion should be legal[edit]

  • Argument Argument Abortion without proper medical support endangers the mother's life. Legalizing abortion would facilitate proper medical support and thus help prevent many deaths.
  • Argument Argument 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 live outside her womb. After the third trimester, the fetus is capable of surviving external from the mother's body, if properly nourished and cared. Therefore, a fetus in the first trimester cannot be regarded as a separate entity, is part of the mother's body, and it's up to her what she wants to do with her own body.
    • Objection Objection A fetus has its own unique genetic code, so it is a different organism living inside its mother, and not just another part of her body.
    • Objection Objection By this logic, people on artificial life support should have no right to life because of their dependence on something other than themselves for survival.
      • Objection Objection People on artificial life support have proxies making the decision whether to keep them on life support. The proxy can choose to withdraw life support. In the case of the fetus, the mother is the proxy and can choose to withdraw use of her body as life support
  • Argument Argument Fetuses in the first trimester are incapable of feeling pain,[2] 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.
    • Objection Objection People undergoing full-body anesthesia are incapable of feeling pain, having future goals, and are not conscious. We put a value on their life because they have the potential to do all these things once they wake-up.
    • Objection Objection If something has the potential of having a valuable life, then it is valuable, and fetuses have the potential of having a valuable life.
      • Objection Objection 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.
      • Objection Objection Animals, insects and bacteria are also capable of living "valuable lives", yet there's no outcry to end meat eating, insecticide use, or antibiotics.
  • Argument Argument A fetus in the first trimester is not capable of living without the support of the mother's physical body. Opponents of legalizing abortion argue that the fetus is entitled to the right to life. But 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. Born people do not have the right to your body because they need it to survive (I don't have a right to your blood because I need a blood transfusion to live). Why should the fetus have the right to live as a parasite in the mother's body against her wishes?
    • Objection Objection The right to life is intrinsically more important than the right to avoid the inconveniences of pregnancy, so we ought to prioritize the former over the latter and give fetuses their right to life.
    • Objection Objection Assuming that the pregnancy is not due to rape or similar unfortunate circumstances, then the mother knew or at least should have known that having sex involves the risk of her getting pregnant. If she willingly took the risk of putting another human in a situation where they would depend on her body, then she is responsible for taking care of them in the case that she actually gets pregnant.
  • Argument Argument If a woman lives in an environment exceedingly hostile to her situation (for example a pregnancy out of wedlock in a country under Sharia Law) then continuing with the pregnancy would risk her chances of a healthy and happy life, if not her life.
    • Objection Objection From a deontological perspective, the end doesn't justify the means. Thus, from such a perspective, the pragmatic benefits of abortion do not justify allowing it.
    • Objection Objection Some people have mental illnesses that cause them to need to burn down buildings, kill people, or steal thins, but we don't legalize such acts because of such people.
  • Argument Argument Nobody is obliged to save someone else, so a woman can choose not to save someone who is dependent on her.
    • Objection Objection On the contrary, parents have a legal and moral obligation to protect the lives of their children.
    • Objection Objection Abortion isn't just refusing to save someone: it's taking active steps to end that someone's life.
  • Argument Argument There's a potential link between legalizing abortion and reducing crime.[3][clarification needed]
  • Argument Argument Legalizing abortion is useful to help control overpopulation.
    • Objection Objection So is legalizing murder, promoting war, releasing deadly viruses, etc.
  • Argument against Argument against Fetuses meet all seven characteristics of life,[4] and are human, so abortion is akin to murder as it's the act of taking human life. No civilized society permits one human to intentionally take the life of another human that has caused no violence, and abortion is no different.
    • Objection Objection The concept of personhood is different from the concept of human life. If human life occurs at conception, then 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?
      • Objection Objection Then maybe throwing away in vitro fertilized eggs should be prohibited. Certainly opponents to fetal stem cell research think so.
    • Objection Objection A fetus during the first trimester is not yet human, since it hasn't developed the large neocortex that sets humans apart from other animals.[5]
    • Objection Objection A person's right to life is contingent on what their life requires of other people. You don't have a right to my blood because you need to live.
  • Argument against Argument against Many citizens who pay taxes are opposed to abortion, therefore it's morally wrong to use tax money to fund abortion.
    • Objection Objection Taxpayer money doesn't fund abortions, nor ever has, at least in the United States.
    • Objection Objection Taxpayer dollars are used to enable poor women to access the same medical services as rich women, and abortion is one of these services.
    • Objection Objection Funding abortion is no different from funding a war. For those who are opposed, the place to express outrage is in the voting booth.
    • Objection Objection Many citizens who pay taxes are opposed to central government. But we can't defund the government.
  • Argument against Argument against 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, stress and emotional burdens left after abortion, called "post-abortion syndrome".[6] A procedure so risky shouldn't be supported by making it legal.
    • Objection Objection 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.
    • Objection Objection Risk is not an adequate reason to forbid a medical procedure. Many procedures, such as surgeries on late-term cancer patients, carry the risk of causing physical harm and are not guaranteed to be beneficial, but we permit them as long as there is informed consent on the part of the patient.
  • Argument against Argument against Adoption is a viable alternative to abortion and accomplishes the same result. And with over a million families waiting to adopt a child,[7] there is no such thing as an unwanted child.
    • Objection Objection 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.[citation needed]
      • Objection Objection Whether they choose to follow through on this is their own choice, but that doesn't diminish the option.
    • Objection Objection Adoption doesn't prevent the many months of unwanted pregnancy, which may cause health complications for the mother
  • Argument against Argument against 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 our species, which is illegal.[8] In other words, Federal legal precedent stands on the side of fetal personhood.
    • Objection Objection The debate is not about what the current laws are, but about what the laws should be.
    • Objection Objection This argument only applies to the United States, but this debate is not restricted to any one country.
    • Objection Objection Since death penalty is legal in some states, the fact that fetuses are members of our species doesn't by itself imply that their life can't be legally taken.

Abortion should be legal in case of risk to the mother's life[edit]

In the United States, around 6% of abortions are reported to be due to physical or emotional health problems with the mother.[9]

  • Argument Argument If the life of the mother is compromised, she should have the right to abort as a matter of self-defense.

Abortion should be legal in case of rape or incest[edit]

In the United States, around 1% of abortions are reported to be due to rape or incest.[9]

  • Argument Argument Forcing a woman to continue with a forced pregnancy is a violation of her rights.
    • Objection Objection Still, you would be killing someone else without that someone's consent.
      • Objection Objection Virtually all legal killings are against the victim's consent.
  • Argument Argument A fetus conceived through rape or incest is like an intruder and can be expelled like such.
    • Objection Objection A fetus shouldn't be treated like an intruder because it did not willfully intrude; someone put it there. No reasonable person would expel an unconscious person into the winter cold and leave it to die, if it was thrown into his property by a kidnapper.
  • Argument Argument Having children due to rape or incest can be seriously deleterious to the mother. Abortion in such cases is the best of the bad outcomes available in most cases.
    • Objection Objection 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.
  • Argument against Argument against Proper medical care can ensure that a woman victim of rape or incest will not get pregnant.
    • Objection Objection 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.
    • Objection Objection If the woman has already been inseminated by the crime, any way of making her no longer pregnant is an abortion.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. "The first trimester: your baby's growth and development in early pregnancy". WebMD. Retrieved 2019-06-12.
  2. "Fetal Awareness: Review of Research and Recommendations for Practice". Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  3. Levitt, Steven D; Dubner, Stephen J (2006). Freakonomics: a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything. ISBN 9780061234002. OCLC 73307236.
  4. "The 7 Characteristics of Life". web.archive.org. 2017-12-21. Retrieved 2019-06-12.
  5. Sagan, Carl, 1934-1996,. The dragons of Eden : speculations on the evolution of human intelligence ([First edition] ed.). New York. ISBN 0394410459. OCLC 2922889.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. "Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) - Does It Exist?". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  7. "Adoption Statistics | Adoption Network". adoptionnetwork.com. Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  8. 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).
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Reasons given for having abortions in the United States". www.johnstonsarchive.net. Retrieved 2019-06-12.