Judith Jarvis Thomson A Defense Of Abortion Analysis

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This essay shall examine and critique Judith Jarvis Thomson’s, A Defense of Abortion (1971).
Thomson sets out to show that the foetus does not have a right to the mother’s body and that it would be not unjust to perform an abortion when the mother’s life is not threatened.
For the sake of the argument Thomson adopts the conservative view that the foetus is a person from the moment of conception.
The conservative argument asserts that every person has a right to life. The foetus has a right to life. No doubt the mother has a right to decide what happens in and to her body. But surely a person’s right to life is stronger than the mother’s right to decide what shall happen to her body, and so outweigh it. So the foetus may not be killed and an abortion may not be performed (Thomson, 1971)
In response to this argument, Thomson uses her Violinist analogy. You have been kidnapped by the Society of Music Lovers, and upon waking have found that your circulatory system has been plugged into a famous violinist who is suffering from kidney failure. It has been discovered that only your blood type can help the violinist. The director of the hospital is apologetic that this has occurred, but to detach you now would kill the violinist. You are required to remain attached to the violinist for the next nine months, at which time the violinist can be safely unplugged from you (Thomson, 1971).
The conservative argument would assert that, the violinist, as a person, has a right to life, then it would surely outweigh your right to decide what happens to your body. Therefore you must remain connected to the violinist because to disconnect yourself from him would be to kill him.
The fact that the violinist requires the use of your kidneys for his sur...

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...o grow for the next nine months? It is unlikely that society would consent to people seeds growing in their homes.
A significant point that shows the failure of this analogy to justify abortion is that one cannot compare having sex and conceiving a child to opening a window that lets in seeds. It does not adequately mirror conception or pregnancy. You could also suggest that the people seeds be transplanted from your carpet to grow elsewhere without killing it. Therefore, the people seeds analogy fails to justify abortion.

By critically examining Thomson’s (1971) three analogies; the Violinist, the Henry Fonda analogy and the People Seeds analogy, all three analogies fail to show that it is not unjust to deny the foetus the right to the mother’s body. Therefore, the foetus has a right to not be killed unjustly and have the use of the mother’s womb.

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