Judith Thomson- a Defense of Abortion

1216 Words5 Pages
In A Defense of Abortion, Judith Thomson defends the permissibility of abortion by appealing to several thought experiments, the most prevalent of which is the famous violinist thought experiment. Through the portrayal of this specific experiment, Thomson is best able to show why abortion is sometimes morally permissible. Thomson starts off by challenging the typical anti-abortion argument, which is essentially two assertions followed by the conclusion that the fetus may not be killed. Furthermore, Thomson makes it clear that the typical anti-abortion argument cannot justify the idea that all abortion is morally impermissible. In effect, all Thomson has to do to show that having an abortion is sometimes morally permissible is to prove the anti-abortion argument to be, either in part or whole, flawed or ineffectual. Thomson ultimately does this through his story telling of the famous violinist thought experiment. While going through the experiment with the reader, Thomson faces the reader with what appears to be an extreme ethical dilemma. She ultimately ends the experiment by telling the reader that if he or she remains plugged into the violinist for nine months, then he will survive, at which point, you will be safely unattached from his body. If you decide to unplug yourself from him now, he will die. Thomson applies the typical anti-abortion argument to this scenario to prove the argument as both unintelligent and ineffective. Thomson states what if the director of the hospital says you have to stay plugged into the violinist for the rest of your life? Thomson cynically responds by saying, “ 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 happens in and to your body. So you cannot ever be unplugged from him”
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