A Defense Of Abortion By Judith Jarvis Thomson Essay

A Defense Of Abortion By Judith Jarvis Thomson Essay

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“A Defense of Abortion” is a philosophy paper by Judith Jarvis Thomson in which the author argues for abortion, using several analogies to illustrate her points. In a move that separates this paper from the bulk of others on the same topic, Thomson grants at the start of the paper that a fetus has the right to life. She then proceeds to argue that although a fetus has a right to life, that right does not trump a woman’s right to her body. She concludes that abortion is an acceptable choice in a variety of circumstances.
In one of her many thought-experiments, Thomson uses a story of people-seeds to argue that a woman has a right to an abortion after voluntary intercourse. She tells a story of flying people-seeds that can fly into people’s houses. It’s important to use fine mesh screens and to use people-seed repellent around the house to keep the people-seeds out. If one of those people-seeds got into your house, would you let it remain rooted in your carpet? Does it have a right to remain there? No, of course they do not. It would be nice of you to let it remain there, but it is certainly not necessary. The argument is extremely comparable to pregnancy following voluntary intercourse (mesh screens being equal to contraception, the house equal to the body, and the people-seeds equal to the fetus).
Toward the end of the paper, Thomson goes on to point out the difference between Minimally Decent Persons and Good Samaritans. Minimally Decent Persons are just that; minimally decent. They do what is required by them as members of society, but they do not go above and beyond, unlike Good Samaritans. Thomson argues that no one is required to be a Good Samaritan and that people must only be Minimally Decent Persons. In the above peo...


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...potential for many reasonably healthy years before their quality of life can be called extremely low. IT is the same for abortion. Abnormalities that prenatal testing can find vary wildly, and few fetuses, pregnancies, circumstances, and futures are alike. People need to make the decisions that are best for the fetus in question. Cases should be evaluated cautiously; just like the pregnant woman is responsible for making decisions for the fetus, those responsible for the care of these individuals need to carefully assess the situation before making a decision.
While the traditional story of the Good Samaritan is about saving a person’s life, depending on the situation, it can be about saving a person or fetus from a lifetime of agony and distress. To reiterate, each case is different and should be carefully appraised before drastic and permanent decisions are made.

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