Judith Jarvis Thompson And Judith Berry's Argument In Defense Of Abortion

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In this essay, I will hold that the strongest argument in defence of abortion was provided by Judith Jarvis Thompson. She argued that abortion is still morally permissible, regardless if one accepts the premise that the foetus is a person from the moment of conception. In what follows, I agree that abortion is permissible in the ‘extreme case’ whereby the woman’s life is threatened by the foetus. Furthermore, I agree that abortion is permissible to prevent future pain and suffering to the child. However, I do not agree that the ‘violinist’ analogy is reliable when attempting to defend abortion involving involuntary conception cases such as rape, whereby the foetus does not threaten the woman’s health. To achieve this, I will highlight the distinction…show more content…
Imagine you are enjoying a trip and you find a person dumped in your yacht by gangsters . The involuntary stow-away is coming out of a coma and is now in need of your assistance to help him survive. The trip back home is 9 months, and you only possess enough food for one person. However, you are able to share your food and other resources with the stow-away and still survive, albeit you will barely survive . The question then becomes if you are morally obliged to share your food with the stow-away? Berry argues that it would be morally impermissible to let the person accidently trapped on your yacht starve to death rather than share your food. It appears that the difference between the ‘yacht example’ and the ‘violinist’ is that it requires less effort on our part to save the stow-away on the yacht compared the violinist. This is because the violinist requires use of our body, whereas the stow-away only requires the use of our possessions. The amount of sacrifice required in each case differs and it follows that this defines the extent to one’s moral responsibility to save the person in question. If we apply Berry’s reasoning to the foetus, then it is impermissible to perform an abortion simply because the sacrifice required during pregnancy is greater than expected. It appears that Berry is arguing that one is always morally obliged to protect a…show more content…
Likewise, Thompson holds that a pregnant woman possesses the right to defend herself against her attacker. No matter if the invader is a rapist attempting to harm her from outside or a foetus that may harm her from the inside. The woman still has a moral liberty to repel her attacker by killing the intruder. Killing a person and abolishing their ‘right to life’ cannot be named as immoral when performed in self-defence. Therefore, an abortion is permissible in the ‘extreme case’ whereby continuing with the pregnancy may result in serious injury or death of the woman. However, it can be argued that although it is permissible to act in self-defence against an invader, the foetus is no such invader and should not be treated like one. Unlike the violinist who was artificially attached to you, the foetus is surviving due to the mother’s biological organs and by the natural processes of reproduction and this yields a special relationship. Therefore, this appears to be a crucial difference between the violinist and the foetus. The natural environment of the violinist is not your body, whereas the natural environment of the foetus is within the mother’s womb. Furthermore, the violinist is trespassing because your body is not their natural environment whereas a foetus cannot

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