In the late 20th century a new method of induced abortion was discovered that uses the drug RU 486 (mifepristone), an artificial steroid that is closely related to the contraceptive hormone norethnidrone. RU 486 works by blocking the action of the hormone progesterone, which is needed to support the development of a fertilized egg. When ingested within weeks of conception, RU 486 effectively triggers the menstrual cycle and flushes the fertilized egg out of the uterus. (2013)
The legal status of abortions has been a topic of debate throughout the world and is still argued in the United States. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe V. Wade in 1971 to make abortions legal by citing a woman’s right to privacy, the United States has had legal abortions in some form. States have worked to limit the ability of women to have an abortion legally, with little success. Given the nature of this topic and the many questions it raises on both sides we are left to debate; should abortions be legal in the United States?
Many debates on abortion involve the anti-abortionists arguing that a fetus is a human life and it’s never acceptable to end the life of another human being. In turn, some abortion advocates will counter that a fetus is not a human being and, therefore does not have the same rights as a person. The exact point at which a human being is created is surely a difficult issue to debate. Most agree that a newborn baby is as much of a human being as a 40-year old woman and both deserving the same rights to life. Similarly, most would agree that an unfertilized ovum is not a human being. To enter a debate outside of these extremes is very rare. In other words, to make a case that using contraception is murder is tantamount to making a case that it’s more permissible to kill a 12-year old than a 40-year old. In her essay, a Defense of Abortion, Judith Thomson (1971) makes the case that this question gets far too much attention in popular abortion debates. Although she states that “A newly fertilized ovum, a newly implanted clump of cells, is no more a person than an acorn is an oak tree.” (Thomson 1971, p.48), she continues to make her case with the hypothetical ceding of that premise. Thomson suggests that more attention should be paid to the question – is abortion ok assuming the fetus is a human being? To anti-abortionists, this question at first sounds outrageous, however she offers the following thought exercise to begin analyzing this important question:
You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you,