A critique of a defense of abortion a book by judith jarvis thomson Essay
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In this paper, I will explain in what circumstances an abortion would be unjust based on Thomson’s argument. Also, I will explain why this result does nothing to weaken her argument. In Thomson’s “A Defense of Abortion”, she makes a claim that it is usually morally permissible, just that is, to have an abortion. She defends this claim with varying analogies, the strongest being the case of the violinist which I will explain later. Thomson’s main point (only for the sake of argument) is that the fetus does have a right to life (Thomson p.
29). However, she also points out that it is morally permissible to perform an abortion if the fetus has not been granted the right to use the mother’s body (Thomson p.31). I will argue that in certain cases the fetus is in fact granted right to use of the mother’s body, and therefore, in such cases, it would be unjust to perform an abortion.
I will argue for this by presenting an analogy presented by Thomson in her paper. In this analogy, Thomson presents a situation: You have been kidnapped by a music group to have your kidneys hooked up to a famous ailing violinist’s body for nine months in order for him to survive. Thomson claims that it would not be unjust or morally impermissible for you to unplug yourself from the violinist’s body because he has been granted no right to use your body (Thomson p. 30). Now, I will use this analogy to argue for when it would be unjust to unplug yourself from the violinist’s body. Suppose, for example, that this music group had asked you for permission to use your body prior to plugging you into the violinist. Say, that you gave them permission and agreed to be attached to the violinist for nine months. However, later on, you decide that you have better things to do than to be stuck to this violinist for nine months, and then decide to unplug yourself from the violinist, leading to his death. That act would be an unjust killing; because you gave the violinist the right to use your body, then took it away from him.
I will now use the example of an actual pregnancy to defend my argument for the unjust killing of a fetus. Suppose that a young couple, both in their mid-twenties decides to have their first child; this is your typical planned pregnancy. They buy a new home and all other certain baby necessities. However, say that during this pregnancy the couple has a change of heart. Say that spontaneously the couple decides that they do not yet desire a child. Thus, they decide to have an abortion for the child that they had previously given the right to life; they had previously given it the right to use the mother’s body. It would thus be an unjust killing of the fetus, and it violates the fetus’ right not to be killed unjustly.
This result does not weaken Thomson’s argument by any means. I say this because Thomson was arguing for when an abortion is not morally impermissible (Thomson p. 37). She was not arguing for which cases an abortion is impermissible. Therefore, further questioning as to which abortions would be unjust under Thomson’s argument would be irrelevant. Also, I was able to make my argument without relinquishing any of Thomson’s claims. Moreover, based on my argument, one can, in fact, make a claim for what “certain” cases of abortion are morally impermissible. Lastly, Thomson is merely pretending that a fetus is a person from conception in the first place, so her notion that some abortions may be unjust is irrelevant to her opponent’s argument (Thomson p.37)