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 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 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 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.
      • Objection However The infant and fetus, 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.
  • Argument Argument Fetuses in the first trimester are incapable of feeling pain,[citation needed] 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.
  • Argument Argument 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.
    • Objection Objection 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.
      • 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. You would have to justify why the fetus has a right live as a parasite in the mother's body against her wishes.
        • Given that the pregnancy is not due to rape or similar unfortunate circumstances 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 you prohibit abortion, women will just do it anyways.
    • Objection Objection 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.
            • From a deontological perspective, it is not justified to commit immorality in order to achieve good. Thus, from such a perspective, the pragmatic benefits of abortion do not justify allowing it.
        • 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.
          • A parent is only forced to spend time and money to provide for children they have accepted to be the legal guardian for, anyone can give their children away at any point if they do not wish to take care of them. In addition, it is not enshrined in law that parents have to donate blood or a kidney to their children if they had a need for it.
  • Argument Argument 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.
    • Objection Objection 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.
    • Objection Objection 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. [2] This leaves over 92% of abortions for other reasons.
  • Argument Argument 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.
    • Objection Objection And? If abortion is legal, fewer people are receiving illegal abortions. Makes sense to me. What specific crimes does abortion curtail?
  • Argument Argument 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.
    • Objection Objection 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.
            • A fetus cannot be meaningfully compared to an intruder, so long as it was created through consensual sex by a mother who knew of the risk of pregnancy. It would be immoral to kill a person for intruding into one's property and refusing to leave if one had brought the person onto that property knowing that said person would have no ability to leave.
              • Not all pregnancies are caused by consensual sexual activity. Some are caused by rape. In such cases, the mother did not cause the intrusion.
                • The point stands that a fetus cannot be punished like a trespasser because it did not willfully trespass; someone put it there. No reasonable person would believe that it is justified to shoot at a person who couldn't walk who was thrown into his property by a kidnapper.
              • Having sex does not equal consenting to pregnancy.
                • Morally speaking, knowing it could happen when doing it is tantamount to accepting the consequence, even if it is not desired.

Abortion should be illegal[edit]

  • Argument Argument 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.[3] 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 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.
  • Argument Argument 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.
    • Objection Objection 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.
    • Objection Objection 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?
      • Some would consider throwing away an in-vitro fertilized egg murder, including opponents to fetal stem cell research.
      • 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.
    • Objection Objection It is morally justifiable to kill a life form if it is so undeveloped that it is only a clump of cells. Just because something is alive doesn't mean it has rights.
  • Argument Argument Many citizens who pay taxes are opposed to abortion, therefore it's morally wrong to use tax money to fund abortion.
    • 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. 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.
    • Objection Objection Many citizens who pay taxes are opposed to central government. But we can't defund the government.
  • Argument Argument 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.
    • 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 Even if this were true, rape accounts for less than 0.5% of abortion cases.[citation needed] We shouldn't prohibit abortion because such a small percentage of cases could be handled through the morning after pill or some other light intervention.
      • Objection Irrelevant This doesn't matter. Against brought up rape.
    • Objection Objection If the woman has already been inseminated by the crime, any way of making her no longer pregnant is an abortion.
  • Argument Argument 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.
    • 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.
      • Many women point towards significant emotional burdens left after abortion, called "post-abortion syndrome".[4] Indeed, it is not the "pro-woman" option.
    • 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 Argument 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.
    • 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.[5]
      • 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 Argument Fetuses meet all seven characteristics of life,[6] and they are human. Therefore they are entitled to their right to life.
    • 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.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  3. 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).
  4. "Post Abortion Stress Syndrome (PASS) - Does It Exist?". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  5. Less than 3% of white unmarried women and less than 2% of black unmarried women.[citation needed]