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Debate: Abortion

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*Abortion deprives couples who spend years on waiting lists trying to adopt a child: *Abortion deprives couples who spend years on waiting lists trying to adopt a child:
-*As has been stated many times, the woman is not the only person worthy of consideration here. Perhaps adoption can be as emotionally damaging as abortion, but in that case I see that the woman is now worse off and the baby is far better off. Furthermore, every person has a right to life. If circumstances prevent the mother from taking care of her baby or she simply does not want him or her, that does not give her the authority to end that child's life.+*As has been stated many times, the woman is not the only person worthy of consideration here. Perhaps adoption can be as emotionally damaging as abortion, but in that case I see that the woman is no worse off and the baby is far better off. Furthermore, every person has a right to life. If circumstances prevent the mother from taking care of her baby or she simply does not want him or her, that does not give her the authority to end that child's life.

Revision as of 18:28, 12 April 2008

Should abortions of any kind be permitted?

This article is based off of a Debatabase article written by Joe Devanny on September 29, 2000 (last modified: Monday, June 06, 2005).

Contents

Background and Context of Debate:

The issue of abortion is one of the most contentious, and emotive dilemmas faced by modern societies. The question is whether one should allow the termination of a child whilst it is in its mother’s womb. For some, the question is even more fundamental: at what stage is the foetus in the womb to be regarded as a child? The battle-lines are drawn between strict, religious (‘pro-life’) arguments (that it is never permissible), and those (‘pro-choice’) that emphasise the mother’s right to choose as the primary concern. Whilst abortion has been accepted by the American state since the land-mark Roe vs. Wade case in the early 1970s, this is by no means a reflection of universal agreement – either international or within America itself – as many Western countries still have considerable restrictions on abortion. For example, the Irish position has softened only recently, and the Catholic Church steadfastly refuses to change its resolutely pro-life stance in the face of criticism from Women’s and other lobby-groups.


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Woman's rights: Should a woman have the free right to choose an abortion?

Yes

  • Women should have control over their own bodies: they have to carry the child during pregnancy and undergo child-birth. No-one else carries the child for her; it will be her responsibility alone, and thus she should have the sole right to decide. These are important events in a woman’s life, and if she does not want to go through the full nine months and subsequent birth, then she should have the right to choose not to do so. There are few – if any – other cases where something with such profound consequences is forced upon a human being against her/his will.
    • 'The Father should be told that the woman is having an abortion but until he carries and gives birth to his own baby (that will never happen duh) then it is not his choice to tell the woman that she has to keep and give a painful birth to this fetus
  • Dialysis analogy: Forcing a woman to continue an unwanted pregnancy is made analogous to forcing one person's body to be used as a dialysis machine for another person suffering from kidney failure.
  • Post-abortion syndrome is not a medically recognized syndrome: The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association do not recognize PAS.




No

  • A woman's rights are not the only rights that need to be respected in abortion: Of course, human-rights should be respected, but it is never the case that a person has a right to make a decision with no reference to the rights and wishes of others.
    • The father has rights to a baby that should not be alienated: One might wonder about the rights of the father to have a say in the fate of the foetus.
    • The child has a right to life that should not be alienated:
  • What is more important than life? All other rights, including the mother’s right to choice, surely stem from a prior right to life; if you have no right to any life, then how do you have a right to an autonomous one? The woman may ordinarily have a reasonable right to control her own body, but this does not confer on her the entirely separate (and insupportable) right to decide whether another human lives or dies.
  • The dialysis analogy is poor: It is argued that the analogy (with a person suffering from kidney failure) overlooks tacit consent and subsequent responsibility for having participated in intercourse; the embryo is the woman's child as opposed to a stranger; and that abortion kills the embryo and does not merely let it die.
  • Please remember that the child is a life. Killing them is murder so, as a result, killing them should be illegal.



Fetus rights: Is it wrong to assign rights to the fetus? Is it not a person?

Yes

  • A fetus is not a "person" with rights that protect it from abortion: Is terminating a fetus, which can neither feel nor think and is not conscious of its own ‘existence,’ really commensurable with the killing of a ‘person?’ Some define personhood (qualifying for rights) through a set of criteria. A being need not exhibit every criterion to qualify as a person, but failure to exhibit most is proposed as disqualification. One list includes consciousness (at least the capacity to feel pain), reasoning, self motivation, the ability to communicate on many possible topics, and self-awareness. Lists like this are intended to help someone be able to objectively distinguish between a biological human and a person. An embryo is not a person because it satisfies only one criterion, namely consciousness (and this only after it becomes susceptible to pain). Other sets of criteria conclude that an embryo lacks personhood (and a right to life) because it lacks self-consciousness, rationality, and autonomy. These lists diverge over precisely which features confer a right to life, but tend to propose that they are developed psychological features not found in embryos. Criticism of this line of reasoning begins with two classes of persons (after birth) in which these criteria do not confer personhood: those who are comatose, and infants. Just like embryos, comatose patients (even when the coma is reversible) do not satisfy the criteria—they are not conscious, do not communicate, and so on. Therefore, based on the criteria, these are not "persons" and lack a right to life. Likewise, infants do not begin to exhibit additional criteria—beyond embryos— until around one year old.
  • The fetus causes physical pain to the woman's body and she has a right to stop it. If someone is allowed to defend her self from a person that is hurting her she has a right to stop the fetus that is giving her pain



No

  • A fetus is uniquely capable of becoming a person, and should thus be offered rights and protections against abortion: It is unquestionable that the foetus, at whatever stage of development, will inevitably develop the traits to which you refer. The unborn child will have every ability, and every opportunity that you yourself have, if you give him or her the opportunity. The time-restrictions on termination had to be changed once, when it was discovered that feeling developed earlier than first thought, so they are hardly impeccable safe-guards behind which to hide.
  • Abortion deprives a fetus of a valuable future: Some argue that abortion is wrong because it deprives the embryo of a valuable future. By this argument, killing any human being is wrong because it deprives the victim of a valuable future: any experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments that would have been enjoyed.
  • The fetus is not really "part" of the mother, but is a separate and distinct human being: This leads to the conclusion that the fate of this entity should not be concluded by the mother alone, as the impact of the choice does not solely impact the mother.
  • A fetus is a person. They are humans. True, they may not have developed some human features like sight but they are still humans. Fetuses are not part of a mother. If you suggest they are you are basically doing the same as suggesting someone is a part of their house because they live in it and the person has no more rights than a house. Would anyone suggest this? Hopefully not.


Post-abortion: Are women usually content with a past decision to abort?

Yes

  • Existing mental disorders and risk-taking cause the need for abortions rather than the other way around - This argument is partly a response to studies that claim that there is a correlation between abortion and mental disorders. The point is that this might be true, but the causality of this correlation must be determined. It may be that those with existing mental disorders are more likely to take risks that lead to the need for abortion, and that this is the explanation for the correlation, rather than that abortion leads to mental disorders.




No

  • Abortions damage the ability to reproduce later in life.
  • People (rightfully) feel guilty after having an abortion.



Enforcement: Would a ban on abortion be unenforceable?

Yes

  • A ban on abortion presents practical problems of enfcorcement: Enforcing an abortion ban would require a quite degrading and inhumane treatment of those women who wished to have their foetus terminated. Moreover, if pregnant women traveled abroad, they would be able to have an abortion in a country where it was legal. Either the state takes the draconian measure of restricting freedom of movement, or it must admit that its law is unworkable in practice and abolish it. The ‘third way’ of tacitly accepting foreign terminations would render hypocritical the much-vaunted belief in the sanctity of life. In addition, the demand for abortions will always exist; making abortion illegal, will simply drive it underground and into conditions where the health and safety of the woman might be put at risk.




No

  • Unborn children cannot articulate and defend their right to life:
  • Difficulties of enforcement should not diminish the principles of the law: Many laws have difficulties pertaining to implementation, but these do not diminish the strength of the principle behind them: people will kill other people, regardless of your legislating against it, but it does not follow that you shouldn’t legislate against it.


Contraception use: Should abortion be an additional option beyond contraception use?

Yes


No

  • Abortion shouldn't be a forms of birth control when other firms are readily available. With contraception being so effective, unwanted pregnancies are typically a result of irresponsible sexual behavior. Such irresponsible behavior does not deserve an exit from an unwanted pregnancy through abortion.



Emergency: Is abortion justified in order to save the life a mother?

Yes

  • There are cases in which it is necessary to terminate a pregnancy to save the life of a mother and/or the child: In such cases of medical emergency and in the interest of saving life, surely it is permissible to abort the foetus.
  • Legal abortion protects women's health: Tens of thousands of women have heart disease, kidney disease, severe hypertension, sickle-cell anemia and severe diabetes, and other illnesses that are made worse by childbearing. Legal abortion helps women avert these unavoidable risks to their health and lives.




No

  • A child should not be killed to save a mother: Whilst these are different circumstances, and such medical emergencies are tragic, it is by no means obvious that the abortion is to be performed. The ‘mother vs. child’ dilemma is one which defies solution, and aborting to preserve one of the lives sets a dangerous precedent that it is acceptable to kill a person in order to save another. This is a clear, and unpalatable, case of treating a human-being as a means to an end.
  • Why is one life more important than another. The child has their whole life ahead of them, they shouldn't be murdered at such a young age.



Rape: Should instances of impregnation through rape justify abortion?

Yes

  • Woman, and in some cases girls, who have been raped should not have to suffer the additional torment of being pregnant with the product of that ordeal. To force a woman to produce a living, constant reminder of that act is unfair on both mother and child.


No

  • Rape does not qualify abortion as it is not the fault of the unborn child: Denying someone life because of the circumstances of their conception is unfair.
  • The child is still murdered.

Child disability: Is abortion justified when an unborn child suffers a disability?

Yes

  • Abortion is justified when the fetus is certain to suffer and die form a disability: Finally, due to advances in medical technology it is possible to determine during pregnancy whether the child will be disabled. In cases of severe disability, in which the child would have a very short, very painful and tragic life, it is surely the right course of action to allow the parents to choose a termination. This avoids both the suffering of the parents and of the child.


No

  • What right does anyone have to deprive another of life on the grounds that they deem that life as not worth living? This arrogant and sinister presumption is impossible to justify, given that many people with disabilities lead fulfilling lives. What disabilities would be regarded as the water-shed between life and termination? The practise of eugenics is roundly condemned by all civilised countries.


Adoption: Is adoption an insufficient alternative to abortion?

Yes

  • Adoption does not spare a women the pains of childbirth.


  • Giving up a child for adoption can be just as emotionally damaging as having an abortion.


No

  • Abortion deprives couples who spend years on waiting lists trying to adopt a child:
  • As has been stated many times, the woman is not the only person worthy of consideration here. Perhaps adoption can be as emotionally damaging as abortion, but in that case I see that the woman is no worse off and the baby is far better off. Furthermore, every person has a right to life. If circumstances prevent the mother from taking care of her baby or she simply does not want him or her, that does not give her the authority to end that child's life.



Eugenics: Is it wrong to equate abortion with Eugenics?

Yes

  • Abortion can lead to racial genocide
  • Abortion can lead to eugenics
  • Abortion involves racial discrimination. Blacks are discriminated against in abortion.




No

  • The reproductive rights movement has no genocidal drive: No serious proponents of abortion are out to kill all embryos. Furthermore, it is an insult to the memory of the alive and conscious human beings murdered by the Nazis to equate them with embryos for anti-abortion propaganda.



Crime: Does abortion help reduce crime?

Yes

  • Abortion is more likely to wipe out the bad than the good: This argument is based on the premise that poverty and conditions conducive to crime often correlate to those that seek abortions. Stephen Levitt of Freakonomics makes this argument. He contends that the 1973 Roe. v. Wade legalization of abortions led to the fall in crime rates in the 80s and 90s across the United States. The period of declining crime, he says, correlated to the period when those that were aborted might have otherwise become criminals in society as a result of their circumstances.




No

Social: What are some of the other pro/con social utility/cost arguments?

Yes

  • Riskier "back alley" abortions would increase if abortion were made illegal. This increases the risk of young women dying or becoming sterile.
  • It's better for society to have babies aborted than have them be brought up poor and neglected. No only will the child suffer but society will suffer when that child develops a higher attraction to crime, welfare, etc.
  • Illegalizing abortion will lead to more children having children.
  • Every child should be a wanted child
  • If a fetus was defined as a "person", the legal shifts would be too dramatic No abortions would be permitted for any reason, including rape or incest. Each miscarriage would have to be investigated. The legal consequences of such an amendment would be catastrophic.
  • Abortion might forestall the potential birth of another Hitler. This is a counter-argument to the notion that abortion could have wiped out some of the greatest social contributors in history; it also could have wiped out some of the worst individuals in history.




No


Internationally: Where do country policies stand in this debate?

Yes

  • Canada allows for abortions on demand.


No

  • In Nicaragua abortions are always illegal.


Faiths: Where do the various faiths generally stand on the issue?

Yes

  • Judaism holds that it begins at birth and abortion is not murder

No

Motions in the affirmative and negative

Yes

  • This House Would Allow Abortion on Demand
  • This House Believes in the Woman’s Right to Choose
  • This House believe that abortion may be justified under certain circumstances.

No

Pro/con activists organizations in the United States

Yes


No

  • American Life League
  • Catholics United for Life
  • Democrats for Life
  • Feminists for Life
  • Jews for Life
  • Libertarians for Life
  • LifeLinks
  • National Coalition for Life and Peace
  • National Right to Life
  • Operation Save America
  • Priests for Life
  • Pro-Life Alliance of Gays & Lesbians
  • Pro-Life America
  • Republican National Coalition for Life
  • Reformers for Life Assembly
  • Roe v Wade.org
  • Susan B. Anthony List
  • Ultimate Pro-Life Resource Page
  • Women and Children First


Motions

References

External links

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