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A Defense Of Abortion By Judith Thomson

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What takes precedence; an unborn fetus’ life or its mother’s right to her body? Anti-abortionist argue that the life of an unborn fetus has priority, and thus abortion is morally impermissible as it violates the fetus’ right to life. In her article “A Defense of Abortion”, Judith Thomson argues that abortion is morally permissible under the certain conditions where the rights of the fetus fail to surpass a mother’s right of choice. For the sake of her argument, Thomson allows the assumption that a fetus is a person, and instead attacks the premise that the fetus’ right to life is stronger than that of a mother’s body integrity. The main argument that Thomson makes is that right to life, defined by some as the right to “be given the bare minimum a man needs for continued life”, is not an absolute right (Thomson 55). This means that the right to life is not unconditionally above all other rights, such as the right of bodily integrity. For Thomson, this allows a mother to make the morally permissible decision to have an abortion for limited reasons: in the case of rape, pregnancy threatens the life of the mother, and the mother took measures to prevent the contraception. Thomson undertakes a Deontological when making her argument, which I will dispute using a Utilitarian approach. While I agree with Thomson that the fetus’ right to life does not allow the use of the mother’s body in cases of rape and threat to life, I will argue against the premise that an abortion is morally
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