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Abortion Argument

Judith Jarvis Thomson offers the story of the dying violinist as an illustrative argument concerning abortion. The abortion argument usually centers on the idea that the fetus is a human being and that every human being has a right to life which outweighs the right of the mother to decide what happens in and to her body. The conclusion is drawn that therefore it is wrong to abort and kill a fetus. Thomson says that this conclusion does not necessarily follow. She uses the analogy of waking up to find oneself linked to an unconscious violinist with a fatal kidney ailment. It is argued that you must remain linked to the violinist because to disengage would kill him and because all persons have a right to life, but Thomson argues that this does not place a special burden upon you at all, noting that a given person's right to life does not mean they have any right or claim against any particular person that he or she provide the conditions that may be essential for the first person's life to continue. This is true of the situation with a mother and a fetus as well, and Thomson argues that there may be no special responsibility on the part of a woman toward the fetus that happens to be in her body--she says there is no such responsibility unless the woman has assumed that responsibility, explicitly or implicitly.

Thomson argues that the fetus may be aborted even when the mother's life is not at stake precisely because the fetus has no claim on the mother's body. Thomson does find in one argument that the unborn person may have the right to the mother's body if the pregnancy resulted form a voluntary act that was undertaken in full knowledge of the chance that a pregnancy might result from it. This would omit entirely the unborn person who resulted from an act of rape, for that is not a voluntary act on the part of the mother. This would mean that aborting the result of a rape is allowable because that entity has no hold on the ...

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Abortion Argument. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:51, May 25, 2020, from