Forty-two years after the highly controversial case Roe vs. Wade, that made it legal for women to have an abortion, society continues to debate whether or not women should have the right to have an abortion. Judith Jarvis Thomson’s famous article “A Defense of Abortion” defends a women’s right to have an abortion. However, I disagree with Thomson’s defense against abortions, and believe that abortions are highly immoral and should be illegal. Many whom are pro-choice argue that a fetus is not a person until birth. However, Thomson’s article is unique in that she openly grants that a fetus is a person from the point of conception. Thomson believes that even if the argument against whether a fetus is a person fails, it is not enough to come to the conclusion that having an abortion is morally wrong. Rather, she reasons that abortions should be allowed because a fetus’ right to life does not include the right to draw upon the different resources a women’s body provides during the pregnancy. Therefore, women should have the right to terminate their pregnancy if they choose to do so. Thomson uses a series of analogies to defend that abortions are not morally wrong and should be allowed since the being deemed a person does not give the fetus the right to the nourishment and protection from the pregnant woman. Jack Mulder Jr.’s article “A Short Argument Against Abortion,” meticulously breaks down Thomson’s argument revealing that her defense that a “fetus does not have the right
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The goal of Judith Jarvis Thomson in her defense of abortion is to sway the ideas of those who are against abortion by challenging the arguments they give for thinking so. She begins by stating a premise. “For the sake of the argument” a human embryo is a person. This premise is one of the arguments most opponents of abortion use, but as she points out, isn’t much of an argument at all. These people spend a lot of their time dwelling on the fact that the fetus is a person and hardly any time explaining how the fetus being a person has anything to with abortion being impermissible. In the same breath, she states that those who agree with abortion spend a lot of their time
In the article "A Defense of Abortion" Judith Jarvis Thomson argues that abortion is morally permissible even if the fetus is considered a person. In this paper I will give a fairly detailed description of Thomson main arguments for abortion. In particular I will take a close look at her famous "violinist" argument. Following will be objections to the argumentative story focused on the reasoning that one person's right to life outweighs another person's right to autonomy. Then appropriate responses to these objections. Concluding the paper I will argue that Thomson's "violinist" argument supporting the idea of a mother's right to autonomy outweighing a fetus' right to life does not make abortion permissible.
Judith Jarvis Thomson and Don Marquis both have different views on abortion. Thomson believes that in some cases, abortion is morally permissible, due to the life of the mother. Marquis believes that abortion is almost always morally impermissible, except in extreme circumstances, because the fetus has a future life. I will simply evaluate each of the authors reasoning’s that defend their belief, and give my argument for why I believe Judith Thomson’s essay is more convincing.
One of the first moral issues addressed by both sides of the abortion debate concerns a pregnant woman’s so-called natural “right” to make “reproductive choices.” (“The Rights of Pregnant Women”) Anti-abortion advocacy groups claim that “the only way to actually protect the mother’s rights will be by enforcing laws that secure her child’s right to life,” (“Argument 2”) whereas pro-abortion groups contend that these laws “create a dangerous precedent for wide-ranging government intrusion into the lives of all women.” (“The Rights”) With two fundamentally contrasting viewpoints at odds with each other, it is apparent that one of the core issues concurrent with abortion is a woman’s rights versus the rights of her unborn fetus.
In her opening statement she first starts of stating a fetus is consider to be a human being or a person from the moment of conception. They have the right to life just like any other person does. In lines 1-10 “Most opposition to abortion relies on the premise that the fetus is a human being, a person, from the moment of conception.”(“Thomson, Judith Jarvis. “A Defense of Abortion.” Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of Abortion, Oct. 1991,spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm.”) Thomson is drawing a line between what we consider to be a person meaning a human being or an adult, to what makes us a human being or an adult. In her first example she talks about an acorn falling from an oak tree automatically being consider to be an oak tree or to be still labeled as an acorn. In lines 10 -14“Similar things might be said about the development of an acorn into an oak trees, and it does not follow that acorns are oak trees, or that we had better say they are.”(“Thomson, Judith Jarvis. “A Defense of Abortion.” Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of
Thomson also points out a flaw in the counterargument by saying that “opponents of abortion commonly spend most of their time establishing that a fetus is a person, and hardly any time explaining the step from there to the impermissibility of abortion” (266). By including both sides of the argument, agreeing with the opposition, and pointing out a flaw in their argument, Thomson makes her argument more persuasive not only by demonstrating her vast knowledge of the issue, but also by diminishing her opponent’s
The debate about the legality of abortion involves debating the legal status of the fetus. If the fetus is a person, anti-choice activists argue, then abortion is murder and should be illegal. Even if the fetus is a person, though, abortion may have justified as necessary to women’s body self-govern but that wouldn’t mean that abortion is automatically ethical. Perhaps the state can’t force women to carry pregnancies to term, but it could argue that it is the most ethical choice.
Thomson’s argument, “A Defense on Abortion,” is a piece written to point out the issues in many arguments made against abortion. She points out specific issues in arguments made, for example, about life beginning at conception and if that truly matters as an argument against abortion. Thomson uses multiple analogies when making her points against the arguments made against abortion. These analogies are used to show that the arguments made do not really make sense in saying it is immoral to have an abortion. These analogies do not work in all cases, and sometimes they only work in very atypical cases, but still make a strong argument. There are also objections made to Thomson’s argument, which she then replies to, which makes her argument even stronger. Her replies to these arguments are very strong, saying biology does not always equate responsibility, and that reasonable precaution is an important factor in the morality of abortion. There are some major issues in her responses to these objections.
Now on a different note, Thomson's main argument is set out to undermine the anti-abortionist argument. The anti-abortionist argument states: Every person has a right to life, the fetus is a person and hence has a right to life. The mother has the right to control her own body, but the fetuses' right to life is stronger than her right to control her body. Therefore, abortion is wrong. How Thomson goes about this is through analogies, and her main argument is through her violinist argument. Thomson asks you imagine that you find yourself hooked up to a famous unconscious violinist. If he can't use your kidneys for nine months, he'll die.
Thomson defends the idea that consensual sex does not make an abortion an unjust killing. She answers a hypothetical position that if a woman “voluntarily calls [a fetus] into existence, how can she now kill it, even in self-defense?” (195) Thomson concedes that “pending… further argument” (196) an abortion can only be defended when the pregnancy is the result of rape. Her answer to this argument is the burglar analogy. She imagines a woman who voluntarily opens the window to her house. In doing so, she enables a burglar to sneak through her window. Thomson argues that despite incurring partial responsibility for the burglar inhabiting her living room, “having voluntarily done what enabled him to get in” (196), she still does not have an obligation to let him stay. Furthermore, she asserts that installing bars on the windows (alluding to birth control) does not change the burden
Thomson starts her argument by stating her opponent's argument,“every person has a right to life. So the fetus has a right to life” (Shafer-Landau 335). Here Thomson starts at a level playing ground with the opponent's argument by stating the obvious that a person has a right to life. If a fetus is a person that they also have a
In the article 'A Defense of Abortion' Judith Jarvis Thomson argues that abortion is morally permissible even if the fetus is considered a person. In this paper I will give a fairly detailed description of Thomson main arguments for abortion. In particular I will take a close look at her famous 'violinist' argument. Following will be objections to the argumentative story focused on the reasoning that one person's right to life outweighs another person's right to autonomy. Then appropriate responses to these objections. Concluding the paper I will argue that Thomson's 'violinist' argument supporting the idea of a mother's right to autonomy outweighing a fetus' right to life does not
Thomson’s main idea is to show why Pro-Life Activists are wrong in their beliefs. She also wants to show that even if the fetus inside a women’s body had the right to life (as
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
In A Defense of Abortion, Thomson states at the very beginning “it is concluded that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception” (Thomson 449). She then goes in to comparing it to the acorn and the oak tree reference. She uses these two ideas to show that the fetus is already a part of you. It may not be a human at that point, but it is still growing in the stomach of the mother. Thomson then goes into using examples of a violinist who has fatal kidney problems, so your kidneys get hooked to his in order to save his life. Once he gets unhooked from his lifeline, he will die. This example is used to really help understand abortion. Much like the violinist, if the fetus gets unattached to its lifeline, it will die. Thomson then goes into describing the extremist view of a mother letting the fetus become a baby, even though it might very well kill her. She expresses her opinion, “The fetus, being a person, has a right to life, but as the mother is a person too, so has she a right to life” (Thomson 451). She realizes that even though the fetus has been conceived, because it is not a human, the mother should have just as much a life as the