For The Lafayette Citizen Journal
Monday night (March, 3rd), Purdue University saw the day out with a lively debate on the issue of abortion. Purdue Students for Life sponsored a formal debate to discuss the question, “Is abortion a human rights injustice?” The affirmative position was taken by Seth Drayer, training director for Created Equal – an organization based in Columbus Ohio. Drayer faced Professor Ralph Webb who took the negative position. Webb hailed from Purdue’s own Brian Lamb School of communication.
|Seth Drayer of Created Equal|
Drayer sought to find common ground with the audience by appealing to the audience’s common sense arguing that it is wrong for parents to intentionally kill their children. So the question then became, “Is the preborn human, and does abortion kill her.”
Drayer appealed to the science of embryology and logic to say that the fetus is a distinct, living, whole, human being. He logically reasoned that living organisms sexually reproduce the same kind. Cats reproduce cats. Dogs reproduce dogs. So humans reproduce humans.
After showing that the unborn is indeed human, Drayer explained that abortion does indeed kill her. He showed diagrams of different types of abortions describing the process in detail. He then showed a clip of graphic images and video displaying the result of abortion.
Drayer proceeded to discuss the differences between the unborn and the born arguing that neither the size, level of development, environment, nor degree of dependency are valid reasons to discriminate against and permit injustice to preborn humans. He ended by asking the audience, “are we all created equal?”
In his cross examination, Webb questioned Drayer’s assumption of natural rights asking how we know they exist. The issue of natural rights continued to spatter Webb’s arguments throughout the evening. While Drayer argued that natural rights come from the fact that we are human, such as the right to life and the right to a fair trial, Webb argued that natural rights result from cultural perception.
|Professor Ralph Webb|
In his opening statement, Webb agreed that “Taking the Life of a human being is abhorrent, it’s probably immoral.” He then when on to ask what defines a human being emphasizing that it is not the point of conception and indeed “the point of conception does not exist… Fertilization is a gradual process.” Repeatedly, Webb drew a distinction between personhood and life asserting that there are degrees of life and death and, “Human life is an abstract concept which needs to be argued about and defined.” Webb finished his opening statements by saying, “You don’t have to be pro-abortion to be pro-choice.”
During the cross examination, Drayer pushed Webb to admit that you do have a right not to be killed if you’re a human being. Webb also agreed that all human beings are persons. He defined a person as “some living organism with a sense of consciousness and personness,” making it every clear that this personhood is, “established not at conception.”
Much to the shock of the audience, when asked if sex trafficking could be moral in some cultures, Webb responded affirmatively saying, “that is absolutely right.” He followed up that shocking statement by saying that nothing is true for all people at all times.
During his closing argument, Webb questioned the reasons behind why women get abortions answering that it’s “NOT as a form of birth control.” He then proceeded to list several reasons why women didn’t want children including, family instability, rape, abuse, too old, or too young. He asked the audience, “are there any circumstances under which you will permit abortion? Can’t we begin to think in terms of situation?” He continued, “we do have rights, but our rights are ethnocentric in nature… you have to interpret rights and the morality of those rights with some concern with the culture from which those rights come and are expressed.” Webb then challenged the audience to come up with a list of universal rights which everyone can agree to asserting that it wasn’t possible. He ended by saying that rights were a decision your culture makes and, “all I ask is that the right to choose remain as significant as the right to life, but not to the right of human life… Permit those who are closest to the matter, the mother, to make that decision.”
Drayer concluded by arguing that scientists disagree, but that doesn’t that mean there’s no truth. While there is disagreement, there is right and wrong. Those who believe sex trafficking is ok, are wrong. The complexity of this issue lies in the problems facing women, not abortions. He argued that abortion does not solve the root problem saying, “homelessness is not solved by abortion, it does not give a woman a house.” In his final statement, Drayer challenged the audience to ask which side has given better evidence to prove what is the unborn and to look around and ask themselves, are we not all equal in our personhood despite all our differences?