A Defense Of Abortion By Judith Jarvis Thomson

1784 Words8 Pages
In Judith Jarvis Thomson’s essay “A Defense of Abortion” (1971), she defends the thesis that abortion is morally permissible. She argues that even if a fetus is a person, and possesses every right to life, that that in itself does not constitute the impermissibility of abortion. In this essay, I will defend and critique Thomson’s defense of abortion’s moral permissibility in light of apparent weaknesses that critics have pointed out. Thomson’s argues that abortion is morally permissible. She grants, for the sake of the argument, that it is indeed the case that every fetus is a person and subsequently possesses a right to life. However, she also states that she finds these arguments ultimately insufficient to constitute abortion, in its…show more content…
get an abortion), is not doing something morally impermissible, rather is just declining to offer their assistance to a person in need.
Thompson proposes a thought experiment to defend the intuition that a woman carrying a child is acting as a Good Samaritan. She asks for her audience to consider this that they awake one morning and are in bed with a comatose violinist, who happens to be famous. He has a fatal kidney condition, and you have the right blood type to solve his health predicament. His fans have kidnapped you and plug you into him, cleansing his blood. The doctors tell you that if you unplug yourself from the violinist, he will die. Instead, you could stay plugged into him for nine months, until he has recovered enough to be unplugged and live. Thompson assumes that you will share her intuition that it is not morally impermissible if you choose to unplug yourself from the violinist (48-49). She argues that this is evidence that it is also not morally impermissible to choose not to carry a fetus to term, and does not violate their right to life.
Thompson’s critics respond to this thought experiment in several ways. Firstly, there are many who point to what they see as morally relevant differences between the thought experiment and pregnancy. Secondly, they can refute Thompson’s assumption that one would find it morally permissible to unplug themselves from the violinist. And thirdly, they could argue against the drawing of conclusions
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