It's been quite a while since the previous abortion debate thread closed, almost a year. I think it's time to restart this debate.
First, a link to the previous debate thread on this topic.
I've decided on the current title, as this is an area full of murky shades of grey, and the 'right' thing to do in many circumstances is anything but clear.
1. The rules:
Define terms commonly used in abortion debates precisely the first time you use them. Bear in mind that others may not agree with your definition, but at least they will understand what you mean if you define the term. A major issue in this revolves around the precise definitions of the following words:
-Woman's body. In case you're wondering, I added this at the request of The Fighting Pikachu. Where does a woman's body end, and an unborn human's begin?
A term that I saw used elsewhere is 'zef', which refers to an unborn member of the species 'homo sapiens' that is a zygote, embryo, or foetus, and is how I define 'unborn human'. One interesting thing I will point out is that foetus (yes, I use UK spelling) is Latin for 'little one'.
Also, if you want to argue for a specific point, try to state clearly the goalposts required for an opposing debater to debunk your argument, and stick to them. Moving the goalposts once they have been reached will mean you can be called out on special pleading. www.yourlogicalfallacyis.com lists this and other logical fallacies.
Finally, be VERY careful with how you treat other people in this debate, this is an extremely emotive issue, and SPPf rules are in full effect here.
2. The issues:
This is an extremely messy subject to deal with. No matter what decisions are made regarding abortion law, when unwanted pregnancies strike, there will be pain, suffering and death on a massive scale. Rights will often, if not always, be violated, and a big issue revolves around prioritising rights when they come into conflict.
- Personhood (someone who is effectively a human like those that have already been born, with a working brain that has higher intelligence than animals) is a big issue that is often what separates many pro-life people from pro-choice people. A lot of people in the latter category would go pro-life once they feel their definition of personhood has been achieved. Another issue is the maximum obtainable intelligence. Anencephaly, for example, can pretty much destroy intelligence, and there is an issue of whether such humans would be considered people.
When does a member of the species 'homo sapiens' become a person that is defined as 'sentient'? Contraception/abortions before this happen are obviously A-OK, as no person dies. However, abortion AFTER this happens results in a person having all of their rights (dependent on their right to life) taken away from them by one or more other people (usually including the mother), and being euthanized/executed (I make no apology for using such strong terms here). Arguments have been made for different times during the gestation period, starting at conception, but even extreme cases where personhood is not even reached AFTER the human is born.
- Quality of life assessments and attempting to predict the future, leading to euthanasia without consent (which applies to some abortions). Is this right or wrong? Holland is an extreme example of this, lots of cases of euthanasia without consent occur there. What happens in cases of REALLY severe disabilities like anencephaly? Is it right to abort if stuff like this happens?
- Illegal/coerced abortions. Restricting the law on abortion will lead to a rise in mothers attempting to seek abortions by other means (and maybe even others coercing them to do so if the pregnancy is unwanted by someone other than the mother), while relaxing it will increase the amount of anti-choice abortions through coercion by others who do not want the pregnancy.
- Value of human life. This debate revolves around this. When things such as intelligence and quality of life are used to judge whether or not someone should live, it devalues a lot of human life, which can prove extremely dangerous.
- Human rights: Rights to life versus rights to liberty come into play. What are the correct priorities, and why?
- Tackling the issues of unwanted pregnancies by other means. This is important to everyone, especially pro-life people, who want choices other than abortion to be viable. If you go with a specific position, you may also want to state how the underlying issue of unwanted pregnancies may be tackled.
3. My views (yes, these are opinions):
- Personhood begins at conception (I can link to some of my previous arguments if you want something more than this opinion).
- Right to life always trumps right to liberty, as all other rights depend on the right to life. Nobody has the right to take away someone else's right to life via euthanasia without consent, including abortions.
- Quality of life assessments are subjective, and are ultimately flawed for two reasons. Quality of life is determined by the person experiencing life, not other people. Quality of life assessments are attempts to predict the future, which is EXTREMELY unpredictable as real life is a highly chaotic system. Google 'Chaos Theory', and it's a mathematical theory which is where the 'Butterfly Effect' comes from. Real life is a prime example of a highly chaotic system.
- Attempting to put value on human lives, instead of saying all humans are equal, is an EXTREMELY dangerous practice, which sets up inequalities that will ultimately lead to indifference/hatred. Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party are a prime example of this. It also encourages people stereotyping disabled people as sub-human trash, like Hitler did with Jews. I find this mortally offensive and extremely dangerous.
- The more liberal abortion laws get, the more anti-choice abortions, and abortions-on-demand with lying for reasons of abortion (including threatening suicide, which is a valid proviso in a proposed abortion law change in the Republic of Ireland!) will occur. In the UK, people exploit a law that allows abortion-on-demand for disabled zefs, even if said zef could have the disability cured after birth! That's outrageous and it turned my stomach when I read about it in a 2012 Parliamentary debate (please say if you want a link to this debate). Reading about that literally turned my stomach.
- Ultimately, my view is this. Abortions should not be allowed EXCEPT if the mother is at risk of dying. This minimises the overall damage, even though it does lead to a lot of extremely severe drawbacks. Full-scale sex education, including abstinence, risk of contraceptives failing etc, along with brutal punishments for rapists, as well as enhancing alternatives to abortion are absolutely required, particularly for a position like mine.
Note that these are merely my opinions, if you want an actual debate with me, start challenging my opinions, and I'll come back with arguments.