A Defense of Abortion: Most Opposition to Abortion Relies on the Premise That the Fetus Is a Human Being

9495 WordsJun 27, 201138 Pages
A Defense of Abortion Author(s): Judith Jarvis Thomson Source: Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Autumn, 1971), pp. 47-66 Published by: Blackwell Publishing Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2265091 Accessed: 10/01/2010 00:54 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this…show more content…
Noonan, Jr., "An Almost Absolute Value in History," in The Morality of Abortion, ed. John T. Noonan, Jr. (Cambridge, Mass., 1970). 49 A Defense of Abortion has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. The director of the hospital now tells you, "Look, we're sorry the Society of Music Lovers did this to you-we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the violinist now is plugged into you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it's only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you." Is it morally incumbent on you to accede to this situation? No doubt it would be very nice of you if you did, a great kindness. But do you have to accede to it? What if it were not nine months, but nine years? Or longer still? What if the director of the hospital says, "Tough luck, I agree, but you've now got to stay in bed, with the violinist plugged into you, for the rest of your life. Because remember this. All persons have a right to life, and violinists are persons. Granted you have a right to decide what happens in and to your body, but a person's right to life outweighs your right to decide what

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