Pro-Choice: Analysis of Thompson's Article, A Defense of Abortion
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In Judith Jarvis Thompson’s article “A Defense of Abortion” she explores the different arguments against abortion presented by Pro –Life activists, and then attempts to refute these notions using different analogies or made up “for instances” to help argue her point that women do have the right to get an abortion. She explains why abortion is morally permissible using different circumstances of becoming pregnant, such as rape or unplanned pregnancy.
Thomson’s main idea is to show why Pro-Life Activists are wrong in their beliefs. She also wants to show that even if the fetus inside a women’s body had the right to life (as argued by Pro – Lifers), this right does not entail the fetus to have whatever it needs to survive – including usage of the woman’s body to stay alive.
To help argue her point, Thomson first begins with an analogy comparing an acorn of an oak tree to the fetus in a woman’s body. She begins by giving the view of the Pro – Lifers; “It is concluded that the fetus is…a person from the moment of conception” (page 113). She then goes on to say, “similar things might be said about the development of an acorn into an oak tree, and it does not follow that acorns are Oak trees…” (Page 113). This analogy helps illustrate how much she disagrees with this Pro –life argument. She calls it a “slippery- slope argument” and goes to say, “…it is dismaying that opponents of abortion rely on them so heavily and uncritically” (page 113). Although Thomson makes it clear that she disagrees with the notion that a fetus is a person (…I think the premise is false, that the fetus is not a person from the moment of conception. A newly fertilized ovum, a newly implanted clump of cells, is no more a person than an acorn is an Oak tree” (page 113)), She will not discuss any of it, but instead allows this “premise” for the sake of the argument. In this argument it has been established then, that a fetus is a person from the moment of conception. Thompson now introduces her “violinist analogy.” This is a key term in her argument. In this analogy she asks the reader to imagine you wake one morning and find yourself in bed with an unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and you alone have the right blood type to save him. You have been kidnapped in the middle of the night, and the violinist’s circulatory system is now plugged into yours. The director of the Hospital is now telling you “Sorry, the Society of Music Lovers did this to you – we would never have permitted it if we had known.” To get unplugged from the violinist will kill him, but in nine months he will be totally recovered from his ailment and you can be safely unplugged from one another. Thompson then asks, “Is it a moral responsibility for the kidnapped person to agree to this situation?” This situation she has concocted...