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An Explication Of Judith Jarvis Thomopson's "A Defense Of Abortion"

3269 words - 13 pages

Abortion has been a very controversial issue since the time it was legalized. People disagree about whether a zygote, embryo, or fetus is a human person. There is a consensus among the pro-life people that a newborn is a human person. They believe that any form of human life that is also a person, and thereby has civil rights, includes the right to life. People have different opinions about the stage at which human life becomes a human person. This is the core disagreement that drives the abortion wars.According to BrainyDictionary.com, abortion is the act of giving premature birth, particularly, the expulsion of the human fetus prematurely, or before it is capable of sustaining life.Judith Jarvis Thompson introduces the right to determine what happens to one's own body in relation to the issue of the morality of abortion. Her argument is laid out as eight main points. Thompson grants, for the sake of argument, that the fetus is a human from the time of conception. Thompson's famous argument for the right of women to an abortion goes like this:But now let me ask you to imagine this. 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, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. The director of the hospital tells you, "Look, we're sorry the Society of Music Lovers did this to you - we never would have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the violinist is now plugged in to you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it's only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you." Is it morally incumbent on you to accede to this situation? No doubt it would be very nice if you did, a great kindness. But do you have to accede to it? What if it were not nine months, but nine years? Or longer still? What if the director of the hospital says, "Tough luck, I agree, but you've now got to stay in bed, with the violinist plugged into you, for the rest of your life. Because remember this. All persons have a right to life, and violinists are persons. Granted you have a right to decide what happens 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."In this analogy, the violinist is supposed to represent the fetus, the music lovers society the rapist, and the fatal disease of the violinist represents the dependency of the fetus on the mother. Her argument can be counter argued by saying that even if pregnancy was to be compared to the violinist situation, they are not...

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