A Defense Of Abortion Thesis

A Defense Of Abortion Thesis-33
In “A Defense of Abortion”, author Judith Jarvis Thomson explains rights in terms of just and unjust treatment.

In “A Defense of Abortion”, author Judith Jarvis Thomson explains rights in terms of just and unjust treatment.

Unlike the violinist, the fetus is physically unable to participate in the conversation related to his or her abortion.

The violinist, though initially unconscious, might be able to communicate and to make choices for him or herself, potentially even including the choice to unplug themselves from you.

So the fetus may not be killed; an abortion may not be performed.

T responds with a thought experiment: You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with a famous but unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help.

Thomson’s argument is weakened however by the disparity between the imagery in her analogies and the reality of pregnancy and of abortion.

In what follows, I will critically examine the weaknesses of Thomson’s rhetoric, focussing on her first analogy involving the parasitic violinist who has been attached to you through kidnapping and to whom you serve as life support.Assuming the personhood of the fetus, the anti-abortionist argument proceeds thus: Every person has a right to life. No doubt the mother has a right to decide what shall happens in and to her body; everyone would grant that.But surely a person’s right to life is stronger and more stringent than the mother’s right to decide what happens in and to her body, and so outweighs it.Thomson bases her entire argument on the premise that the fetus is a human being from the moment of conception — despite not actually believing this herself — and so it follows that the lack of distinction between a fetus and an adult is an impressively bold method of follow-through toward immediately establishing this equal personhood (Thomson 1).While this is certainly a powerful method of assertion, it overlooks the vast practical differences between an adult and a fetus and therefore the inapplicability of this parallel.Obviously detaching oneself from a stranger who has imposed themselves upon you is quite different from detaching from someone made up of your genetic material who has always had a complete reliance on you for their protection and survival.Despite sharing kidneys with the ailing violinist, you do not influence their life in anywhere near the all-consuming way that a mother influences a fetus.The violinist example is therefore exempt of the imposed emotions inherent in a natural maternal relationship.Thomson’s use of analogies in “A Defense of Abortion” shed a unique light on and provide an accessible entry point to various angles of the discussion of abortion, however examination of the violinist analogy reveals the failure in its suitability and her failure to address and compensate for the many gaps between the violinist figure and the fetus.While it would be kind of you to let the violinist stay attached to your body, almost no one would think you are morally obligated to do so.This suggests that abortion is morally permissible in cases of rape (and also that the mere fact that the violinist is a person doesn’t preclude the permissibility of abortion.) Of course, strong opponents of abortion may still say that one has a right to life even if one is conceived as a result of rape or the mother’s life is in danger.


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