Judith J. Thomson A Defense of Abortion

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In A Defense of Abortion, Judith Thomson defends her stance concerning the abortion debate, and attempts to explain why all abortion cases should not be considered morally impermissible. Thomson stakes her claim by focusing on three circumstances where she believes abortions to be allowable. She describes cases of pregnancy resulting from rape, pregnancy despite preventive methods being utilized, and pregnancy that will cause harm to the mother. In these cases, Thomson concentrates on what someone has the right to do versus what someone ought to do. Thomson creates three hypothetical analogies that further explain why an abortion is permissible for each case. For the sake of argument, Thomson’s initial premise for all cases is that a fetus is a person. The debate with Thomson’s claim is whether or not her hypothetical analogies work to conclude that abortions are permissible in certain cases. Thomson argues abortions are permissible in rape cases by using a hypothetical situation where an individual has been kidnapped against their will and awakens medically attached to a famous violinist, allowing him to survive only through the use of your kidneys. If you detached yourself from the violinist, he will certainly die; therefore, to continue the analogy, you have to lie there for the nine months it will take to rehabilitate his kidneys. Is it morally just of you to unplug yourself, knowing this man will surely die if you do so? Thomson argues that it is morally just, because you did not consent to allow him the right to use your body. It was unquestionably against your will. The violinist analogy translates to pregnancies from rape cases, because a rape victim is in effect kidnapped, and therefore forced against their will to commit nine months of their life allowing a fetus to grow utilizing their body. Thomson argues that the right to life does not

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