I must agree with my opponent on the potential divisiveness of this topic. It's a difficult one to not become emotionally entangled with, to
maintain clear judgement. I do think we're not going to settle the issue of the morality or immorality of abortion here, today: fortunately, that's
not the issue in question. In his closing statement, my opponent has made a fine argument against the practice of eugenics, but that's not the
topic, either. The topic is the illegality
of abortion, outlawing a woman's right to control her reproductive metabolism, and I feel I have
Abortion should not
My opponent would like to weaken the definition of illegal:
1. forbidden by law or statute.
2. contrary to or forbidden by official rules, regulations, etc.
And say that abortion should be allowed in certain cases, such as when resulting from involuntary impregnation or when the well-being of the mother is
at risk. Clearly, he is claiming that abortion should not
be illegal, but rather regulated:
1. to control or direct by a rule, principle, method, etc.
2. to adjust to some standard or requirement, as amount, degree, etc.
I believe we agree, that the publicly-established rules governing a 'licensed' medical practitioner should establish some level of reliability of
service. Indeed, in the course of this debate we've shown that the dangers
of ill-regulated medical practice in previous centuries
contributed to justifying outlawing abortions. By their practice, the health of women were being placed in danger.
That's no longer the case; modern medical practice is much safer. Protecting the public from subtle dangers of illicit practice can no longer
justify laws infringing their rights.
And that's the central issue here -- the rights of actual
people. My opponent would like to argue that the fertilized ovum, embryo, fetus, or
'potential child' also
has rights, and those trump the right of the woman to control her metabolism.
That is far from obvious, on many grounds: biological/medical, social, religious/ethical, and legal.
Perhaps most clear-cut is biological. An embryo is clearly 'a life', in that it is metabolically active; the biological definition need say no more
than that. But is it a 'person'? It clearly contains a representation of human DNA, and is complete in that respect. But so does a frozen,
fertilized ovum, or a skin cell, and my opponent agrees that is clearly a different situation. His amusing attempt to define life as beginning with
"two separate cells" shows his equivocation on this point.
Medically, we must rely on objectively observable evidence and definitions. It becomes a little scary, in fact. If we're considering the point at
which the development of self-awareness, non-instinctual reactivity, and the potential for emotion begin, medicine tells us that those don't start to
occur until after
a child is born! Clearly, basing definition of when something is actually
a person, on those definitions, makes
stopping a pregnancy much different than 'killing a person'.
And that's an interesting point, too: when does the 'potentiality' of a possible 'future-person' become actuality
, that can be justly
actionable, legally? My opponent has done nothing to harmoniously clarify this issue. Nature itself causes many
spontaneous abortions (see
the definition in my opening statement) and miscarriages. Clearly, the emotional affection that might hold such potential as 'precious' is a purely
Such opinions, I have shown, vary from society to society, and change with the times. Some cultures do not even consider newborn children as complete
'persons', and accept Nature's occasional fickle cruelty as a matter of course, not something we should reasonably attempt to outlaw.
a society, the individual opinions must certainly vary. I've never heard of unanimity on such a scale. There will always be
individuals with extreme beliefs, who disagree with the majority, regardless of any opinion they attempt to impose through law. It would seem that
can't be avoided. But what is clearly
unjust is the imposition of laws that restrict the actual
rights of actual
That must clearly take precedence over a secondary (and much
less achievable) purpose of society: to allow individuals to live in world free
from perceived, subjective
Ethically and religiously, consensus is far from achieved. I have shown the even the 'canon law' of the Catholic Church, currently a major
proponent against contraception and abortion, has changed and oscillated throughout the ages. The objectivity there is questionable; it cannot be
said to be a clear-cut truth, without necessarily embracing the dogma of the Church as unquestionable. Regardless of more specific argument, that is
not what complete societies do, thus laws that govern complete societies, stemming from the expression of their will, cannot justly be
based on religious grounds.
My opponent would argue that religious decrees can
become law, and should, if they reflect the will of the people. Arguable. Has this ever
occurred, though, without some manner of injustice? The basis for the establishment of government, in many countries, recognizes the inherent
separation of Church and State. Ignoring this leads to clear danger, as evidenced by partisan attempts to 'load' the Courts with biased jurists,
undermining the objectivity of the legal system.
And we must look at the behaviour of the powerful religiously-motivated fringe groups that want abortion to be illegal. The use of loaded terms in
the expression of this topic, calling a single-cell embryo a 'child', pinning a mystical sancrocicity to the term 'life', and ignoring personal
opinion and medical and legal definitions that do not fit the desired agenda is particularly distressing. Often, the grounds of the debate are
shifted -- abortion is decried as 'irresponsible contraception', and its illegality is advocated based on the argument that other means of
contraception are available. But, those same advocates then argue against the use of any
contraception, calling it 'sinful' and saying we
should rely solely on 'abstinence only', which history has shown is ineffective and unpractical.
Clearly, there is an agenda that is dishonestly driving the debate. My opponent has mentioned 'studies' which he claims show 'traumatic' effects
of abortion, despite those same studies using the term "therapeutic". He claims there is such a thing as "Post Abortion Syndrome" -- a made-up
label unrecognized by the medical community. It clearly ignores issues of causation versus association. The 'guilt' he implies that women who
choose abortion feel does not necessarily stem from that decision itself, but rather can more logically be explained as an effect of knowing that
there are unreasonable people who hate, and unilaterally label as 'evil'.
Now let us consider what the just extent of the law should
be. I think we've all seen examples of the danger of the whim of the populace
enforced through the strength of Governmental law, and the injustice that can result thereof. It seems to me that law is just, when it clearly and
unambiguously regulates conflicts of rights between
individuals; the US Constitution for example requires a prosecuted person to be able to
face their accuser, definitively, in court.
When law is based on the unilateral opinion
of the government, it is unjust. When the law concocts 'hypothetical accusers' to prosecute the
citizenry, it is unjust. In all cases, laws that infringe the rights of citizens without the specific
counter-balance of a Jury of the People,
And impractical, too. My opponent has pointed out, in arguing that abstinence should never
be made illegal, that the power of the government
to regulate human behaviour, in practice, is limited. Should a just legal system not recognize that fact? My opponent has quoted the American
Founders as saying there are rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", and that the truth and establishment of those rights is
"self-evident". Do you think they wanted their government at the time, the Crown of Britain, to mandate by law the specific manner in which they
should observe those rights? Or any rights, not clearly
within the purview of a "Government of the People"?
Certainly not. It is obvious, in all respects:
"Abortion should not
I again thank my opponent for his participation, and thank the moderator, site owners, and of course readers for making available this forum.
Finally, I would encourage everyone
, especially those in need or dire circumstance, to make their own
decisions, their own
choices. Do not
rely on mandates or the opinions of partisan advocates, of any colour, as 'unbiased truth'. There are caring individuals,
who place agenda secondary
to honest help and guidance. Should the need arise, seek them
out. Thank you.