Should abortion be legal?

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Octicons-law.svg Subject classification: this is a law learning projects resource.
Run DebateTree algorithm
What's this?

By abortions 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 remain illegal.

Abortion should be legal[edit | edit source]

Arguments for[edit | edit source]

  • Argument for Argument for Abortion without proper medical support endangers the mother's life. Legalizing abortion would facilitate proper medical support and thus help prevent many deaths.
  • Argument for Argument for 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 Unfertilized egg cells have their own unique genetic code, and unfertilized egg cells are not organisms.
    • 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 in coma and relying 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
        • Objection Objection The withdrawal of life support can only occur when specific medical criteria are met. There has to be no chance for improvement of patient health and ability to function independently in the future.
  • Argument for Argument for 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. Similarly, fetuses have the potential of having a valuable life.
      • Objection Objection Potentiality 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 Many animals can feel pain, have future goals and are conscious, yet there's no outcry to end meat eating.
        • Objection Objection Veganism is a growing movement.
  • Argument for Argument for A fetus in the first trimester should not be entitled to rights that born people are not entitled to. Born people do not have the right to someone else's body even if they need it to survive (I don't have a right to your blood even if I need a blood transfusion to live).
    • Objection Objection Assuming that the pregnancy is not due to rape or similar unfortunate circumstances, then the mother 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.
    • Objection Objection The right to life is 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.
  • Argument for Argument for 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 and 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 for Argument for Nobody is obliged to save someone else.
    • 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 for Argument for There's a potential link between legalizing abortion and reducing crime.[3][clarification needed]
  • Argument for Argument for Legalizing abortion is useful to help control overpopulation.
    • Objection Objection So is legalizing murder, promoting war, releasing deadly viruses, etc.
      • Objection Objection The other methods listed are almost unanimously agreed to be unethical, while abortion (when chosen by the pregnant) is a more balanced, ambiguous, and potentially acceptable method.
        • Objection Objection Even if abortion isn't as clearly unethical as other methods, it still isn't acceptable just by being better than the alternatives for controlling overpopulation.
  • Argument for Argument for Criminalizing abortion would not end abortion, though it may reduce the rate of abortions. If we are concerned about reducing the rate of abortions, there are better ways of doing this, e.g. publicly funded contraception.
    • Objection Objection An anti-abortion law would extend the law against murder. Laws on Human life don't prevent actions but are symbolic to a moral stance of a nation.
  • Argument for Argument for Removing a fetus safely from a woman's body is much better than if she is forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy, which has a domino effect of now there is another mouth in the family to feed, and if it is a poor family, the kid will starve to death, which is much more painful and slower than what would originally occur. also, an unwanted child exists in vain, and vain existence is worse than no existence at all

Arguments against[edit | edit source]

  • 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.
    • Objection Objection In in vitro fertilization, fertilized eggs that are not implanted are routinely thrown away and no one considers that 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. Nobody has a right to your blood because they need it to survive.
  • Argument against Argument against Many citizens who pay taxes are opposed to abortion, therefore it's morally wrong to use tax money to subsidize abortion.
    • Objection Objection It isn't necessary to use taxpayer money to subsidize abortion. This debate is about legalizing abortion, not subsidizing it.
    • Objection Objection Taxpayer dollars are used to enable poor people to access the same medical services as rich people and abortion is one of these services.
    • Objection Objection Subsidizing abortion is no different from any other subsidy. 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.[7]
    • Objection Objection Adoption doesn't prevent the many months of unwanted pregnancy.
    • Objection Objection Adoption doesn't prevent the risk of health risks that pregnancy entails.
      • Objection Objection Abortion also entails health risks.
  • Argument against Argument against According to most legislations,[8] 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.[9] 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 | edit source]

In the United States, around 6% of abortions are reported to be due to physical or emotional health problems with the mother.[10]

  • Argument for Argument for 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 | edit source]

In the United States, around 1% of abortions are reported to be due to rape or incest.[10]

  • Argument for Argument for 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 for Argument for 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 for Argument for 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 conception has already taken place, any way of making her no longer pregnant is an abortion.
  • Argument for Argument for if we ban abortion, women who have been raped are now forced to have kids, and with the unfortunately high occurrence of rape, this may cause the population to explode, piling on to the already major problem of overpopulation. Not to mention, most bastard children live in such poor conditions and have so little morale for their existence that they will likely suffer their entire lives and never amount to anything. In that case, it's better for everyone involved that they didn't exist
    • Objection Objection rate of rape seems to be inconsequential to population growth. If we take the US, there seems to be roughly 85000 reported rapes per year. If we conservatively assume that this is half of the total rapes, that conservatively there's a 5% chance of getting pregnant per sexual intercourse (which tends to apply only to younger people), that right now there are no rape-related births in the US (likely untrue) and, finally, that no illegal abortion would take place, the number of pregnancies as a consequence of rape if abortion would be illegal would be roughly 0,2% of total birth in the US. Real percentage would probably be orders of magnitude lower.

The abortion debate must be disentangled from the formulation of legal doctrines and public policies[edit | edit source]

  • Argument for Argument for Beliefs about the particular Schelling point at which one differentiates life from unlife, ensoulment or not, are not particularly relevant to the development of an intelligible legal doctrine and public policy. Many Catholics are opposed on moral grounds but do not prefer a legal penalty for abortion in lieu of robust social support networks which prevent their occurrence by reducing rape, poverty, and sociological alienation from traditional community. If abortion were criminalized, the use of the carceral system for an opinionated difference in the person's private conscience would be morally impermissible to any standard that is not in a state of self-contradiction. Civil rather than criminal penalties do not offer a useful solution. In the United States it should be sufficient for common law purposes that Edward Coke articulated the standard with clarity in the Institutes, "If a woman be quick with childe, and by a potion or otherwise killeth it in her wombe, or if a man beat her, whereby the child dyeth in her body, and she is delivered of a dead childe, this is great misprision, and no murder; but if he childe be born alive and dyeth of the potion, battery, or other cause, this is murder; for in law it is accounted a reasonable creature, in rerum natura, when it is born alive." This is consistent with the standard set by Roe v. Wade as well as Casey v. Planned Parenthood. All three of those tests, however, lack a precision consistent with contemporary science, and so should be adjusted to give deference to the current lack of knowledge on the mental states of fetuses, which is not exhaustively known at this time. This deference should include the toleration of intact dilation and extraction as a legal matter. As this would have no impact on the conventional definitions of murder, it is not relevant to that question. If by some animistic source of which we have no direct knowledge, all acts of abortion do constitute murder, this can be left to the individual's relationship to cosmic judgment without the interference of the State. Killings by police officers and soldiers in theaters of war are better tolerated in spite of the far greater extent of their practical destructiveness and the far greater contentiousness of the ideologies on which those events are motivated.

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  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 (in English). ISBN 9780061234002. OCLC 73307236. 
  4. "The 7 Characteristics of Life". 2017-12-21. Retrieved 2019-06-12.
  5. Sagan, Carl. The dragons of Eden: speculations on the evolution of human intelligence (First ed.). New York. ISBN 0394410459. OCLC 2922889. 
  6. "Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) - Does It Exist?". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  7. "Adoption Statistics | Adoption Network". Retrieved 2019-06-14.
  8. See the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
  9. 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).
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Reasons given for having abortions in the United States". Retrieved 2019-06-12.