Thomson's View of Abortion
In the article "A Defense of Abortion" Judith Jarvis Thomson argues that abortion is morally permissible even if the fetus is considered a person. In this paper I will give a fairly detailed description of Thomson main arguments for abortion. In particular I will take a close look at her famous "violinist" argument. Following will be objections to the argumentative story focused on the reasoning that one person's right to life outweighs another person's right to autonomy. Then appropriate responses to these objections. Concluding the paper I will argue that Thomson's "violinist" argument supporting the idea of a mother's right to autonomy outweighing a fetus' right to life does not make abortion permissible.
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The conjoined twin scenario seems to throw a wrench into Thomson's argument. There are a few possible responses to the argument from Thomson's point of view. One could say that abortion is permissible in the case of rape since not only is the fetus using the mother's body without her consent but it was violently and wrongfully conceived in the mother. Since in the case with the twins, twin B was simply innocently attached to twin A it seems like a entirely different situation from that of rape. However the fetus is similarly innocent even in the case of rape the act was wrong. So the argument of rape leading to abortion could also be thrown out. A familiar phrase helps sum up the situation and that is "two wrongs don't make a right." Someone in alliance with Thomson could also argue that in the case that the mother is dying because of complications in her pregnancy abortion would be permissible in order to save the mother's life. Back to the case of the twins, we could say that twin B is slowly draining the life out of twin A. In this case it would still not for permissible for twin B to be killed even though it would assure the survival of twin A.
I feel that Thomson's argument was easily refuted although it was very imaginative and clever. It doesn't seem that her idea of abortion only being wrong in the case of voluntary pregnancy will hold water too long. In my