Response to Judith Jarvis Thomson's A Defense for Abortion

analytical Essay
4806 words
4806 words

Response to Judith Jarvis Thomson's A Defense for Abortion Judith Jarvis Thomson, in "A Defense of Abortion", argues that even if we grant that fetuses have a fundamental right to life, in many cases the rights of the mother override the rights of a fetus. For the sake of argument, Thomson grants the initial contention that the fetus has a right to life at the moment of conception. However, Thomson explains, it is not self-evident that the fetus's right to life will always outweigh the mother's right to determine what goes on in her body. Thomson also contends that just because a woman voluntarily had intercourse, it does not follow that the fetus acquires special rights against the mother. Therefore, abortion is permissible even if the mother knows the risks of having sex. She makes her points with the following illustration. Imagine that you wake up one morning and find that you have been kidnapped, taken to a hospital, and a famous violist has been attached to your circulatory system. You are told that the violinist was ill and you were selected to be the host, in which the violinist will recover in nine months, but will die if disconnected from you before then. Clearly, Thomson argues, you are not morally required to continue being the host. In her essay she answers the question: what is the standard one has to have in order to be granted a right to life? She reflects on two prospects whether the right to life is being given the bare minimum to sustain life or ir the right to life is merely the right not to be killed. Thomson states that if the violinist has more of a right to life then you do, then someone should make you stay hooked up to the violinist with no exceptions. If not, then you should be free to go at a... ... middle of paper ... ...ofeminists and pacifist feminists take to be characteristically masculine; it shows a willingness to use violence in order to take control. The fetus is destroyed by being pulled apart by suction, cut in pieces, or poisoned." Wolf-Devine goes on to point out that "in terms of social thought . . . it is the masculine models which are most frequently employed in thinking about abortion. If masculine thought is naturally hierarchical and oriented toward power and control, then the interests of the fetus (who has no power) would naturally be suppressed in favor of the interests of the mother. But to the extent that feminist social thought is egalitarian, the question must be raised of why the mother's interests should prevail over the child's . . . . Feminist thought about abortion has . . . been deeply pervaded by the individualism which they so ardently criticize."32

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how judith jarvis thomson argues that abortion is permissible even if the mother knows the risks of having sex.
  • Analyzes how thomson argues that a person has no right to be given the bare minimum that is needed for continued life.
  • Analyzes thomson's argument that a woman has no more moral obligation to her unborn child than she has to strangers.
  • Opines that one may unplug oneself from the violinist by shooting him in the head, cutting him into pieces, poisoning him, but he dies from his sickness.
  • Analyzes how thomson contradicts herself at the end of the essay by saying that she does not agree with killing the unborn child.
  • Argues that thomson's volunteerism is fatal to family morality, which has as one of its central beliefs that an individual has special and filial obligations to his offspring and family.
  • Argues that the volunteerist thesis is contrary to what people think. the idea that to be committed to an individual is fatal to family morality.
  • Argues that pregnancy and childbirth entail certain emotional, physical, and financial sacrifices on the part of the pregnant woman, but these are also endemic of parenthood in general.
  • Explains that the sperm donor is not morally responsible for the child he inseminates into a woman, but is forced by an unjust court to pay child support.
  • Analyzes how thomson misguidedly infers that all moral obligations to a child are voluntary. the father's responsibility for his offspring stems from the fact that he engaged in sexual intercourse that could result in the creation of another human being.
  • Argues that even if the violinist doesn't have a right to his life, it's not morally permissible.
  • Analyzes how thomson argues that the right to life includes not being killed by anyone unjustly.
  • Argues that the unborn has a prima facie right to her mother's body. the womb is the natural environment for the violinist, whereas being artificially hooked up to strangers is not.
  • Argues that thomson's violinist illustration undermines the deep natural bond between mother and child by making it seem no different from that between two strangers artificially hooked up to each other.
  • Analyzes how thomson ignores the fact that abortion is killing and not merely the withholding of treatment. levin argues that there is an essential difference between abortion and the unplugging of the violinist
  • Argues that thomson's argument is inconsistent with well-established family law, which presupposes parental responsibility.
  • Argues that thomson's use of pregnancy as a nine-month involuntary imprisonment in bed skews the argument.
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