Abortion Debate Essay

Submitted By strategicclass
Words: 1498
Pages: 6

In this paper I will discuss the great moral dilemma of committing an abortion. This issue of whether having an abortion is morally justified has been very controversial to many people for a long time, and still continues to be one today. As a context to this argument we are given a story of Mrs. Adams and her husband who decided to have an abortion after a contraceptive method went wrong. After forgetting to take her contraceptive pill one night Mrs. Adams ends up getting pregnant, and because she was in college and also working she decides to get an abortion. Since the Adams took preventive measures to avoid pregnancy, are they morally justified in getting an abortion? I will state the arguments of Judith Jarvis Thomson who says that in some cases, abortion is morally justified. To counteract her arguments I will state the arguments of Don Marquis who says that abortions are immoral in almost all circumstances. Judith Jarvis Thomson is an American philosopher who deals with moral issues such as the justification of abortion. In her paper “A Defense of Abortion” she uses many different analogies to argue on the side of abortion and why it “remains morally permissible in a variety of cases in which the mother’s life is not threatened.”(Cahn p.437) The violinist is one of her most famous analogies in which she compares an innocent person who has been kidnapped and plugged unwillingly into a famous dying violinist in order to save the musicians life to that of a pregnancy due to a case of rape. She goes on to say “In this case, of course, you were kidnapped; you didn’t volunteer for the operation that plugged the violinist into your kidneys. Can those who oppose abortion on the ground I mentioned make an exception for a pregnancy due to rape? Certainly.” (Cahn p.439) In the case of the Mrs. Adams and her husbands’ failed contraception method, Thomson provides the burglar and people-seeds analogies. Here, she compares a pregnancy due to a failed contraceptive method to that of a burglar invading your house because you knowingly opened a window to get some fresh air, even though you had bars installed to prevent that same problem, but they happened to be defective. In the next analogy she uses people-seeds instead of a burglar to make the same point. She goes on to say “suppose it were like this: people-seeds drift about in the air like pollen, and if you open your windows, one may drift in and take root in your carpets or upholstery. You don’t want children, so you fix up your windows with fine mesh screens, the very best you can buy. As can happen, however, and on very, very rare occasions does happen, one of the screens is defective; and a seed drifts in and takes root. Does the person-plant who now develops have a right to the use of your house? Surely not-” (Cahn 444) Thomson uses the burglar and people-seeds analogies to show that abortion in this case is permissible and morally justified. Her argument is that you took the necessary measures to prevent a pregnancy and if you do happen to get pregnant, because you took those preventive measures and it’s due to no fault of your own, you shouldn’t be responsible to have a child.
Although Thomson is very clear with her position that abortion can be justified in many circumstances she does point out an occasion where she feels that it is unjustified. She states that “It would be indecent in the women to request an abortion, and indecent in a doctor to perform it, if she is in her seventh month, and wants the abortion just to avoid the nuisance of postponing a trip abroad.” (Cahn p.445) I believe that in Mrs. Adams and her husbands’ case, because they tried to prevent a pregnancy through the use of contraception, Thomson would argue that they have a right to get an abortion and in no way consider them to be immoral because they’ve done so. She considers a failed contraception as a justified reason to commit abortion. Since we are not sure of the duration of Mrs. Adams