A Defense of Abortion by Judith Jarvis Thomson

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'A Defense of Abortion' by Judith Jarvis Thomson

In the article 'A Defense of Abortion' Judith Jarvis Thomson argues that abortion is morally permissible even if the fetus is considered a person. In this paper I will give a fairly detailed description of Thomson main arguments for abortion. In particular I will take a close look at her famous 'violinist' argument. Following will be objections to the argumentative story focused on the reasoning that one person's right to life outweighs another person's right to autonomy. Then appropriate responses to these objections. Concluding the paper I will argue that Thomson's 'violinist' argument supporting the idea of a mother's right to autonomy outweighing a fetus' right to life does not make abortion permissible.

In her article Thomson starts off by giving antiabortionists the benefit of the doubt that fetuses are human persons. She adds that all persons have the right to life and that it is wrong to kill any person. Also she states that someone?s right to life is stronger than another person?s autonomy and that the only conflict with a fetuses right to life is a mother?s right to autonomy. Thus the premises make abortion impermissible. Then Thomson precedes to attacks the premise that one?s right to autonomy can be more important to another?s right to life in certain situations. She uses quite an imaginative story to display her point of view. Basically there is a hypothetical situation in which a very famous violinist is dying. Apparently the only way for the violinist to survive is to be ?plugged? into a particular woman, in which he could use her kidneys to continue living. The catch is that the Society of Music Lovers kidnapped this woman in the middle of the night in order to obtain the use of her kidneys. She then woke up and found herself connected to an unconscious violinist. This obviously very closely resembles an unwanted pregnancy. It is assumed that the woman unplugging herself is permissible even though it would kill the violinist. Leading to her point of person?s right to life is not always stronger than another person?s right to have control over their own body. She then reconstructs the initial argument to state that it is morally impermissible to abort a fetus if it has the right to life and has the right to the mother?s body. The fetus has the right to life but only has the right to a ...

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...ould assure the survival of twin A.

I feel that Thomson?s argument was easily refuted although it was very imaginative and clever. It doesn?t seem that her idea of abortion only being wrong in the case of voluntary pregnancy will hold water too long. In my personal opinion I feel that abortion is generally wrong. I think that if the woman became pregnant through consensual sex, even if she did not want to have a child, abortion is wrong regardless of the contraceptive precautions that were exercised. In the terribly unfortunate case of rape I feel it is more than understandable for the woman to want to abort the fetus. Seeing how the fetus had no control over the situation it seems that they should be given the chance at life. Although it is very unfortunate for the woman to have to be in such a situation I think it would be in the best interest for everyone to have the child. Maybe someday the unwanted child could make a contribution to all of mankind. The one situation that is very complicated to me is in the case of the mother?s life depending on the fetus being alive. I feel that every individual situation should carefully studied while considering all possible outcomes.

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