The report introduces the argument concerning the choices of abortion and morality behind it by analysis of Judith Thomson’s article on defense of abortion. The paper presents the main assumptions and views of Thomson regarding abortion with use of the violinist analogy to determine the choice of abortion during pregnancy. The objection to Thomson’s view is raised based on the utilitarian view that the decision to end fetus life is not based on the pain of the mother but also on the pleasures and emotional bonding of the fetus with parents and family members after birth. On that ground, a gap in Thomson’s approach has been raised with support from different arguments. An attempt has been made to provide Thomson’s a defense to refute the argument.
There is great argument regarding whether abortion should be allowed or not and if fetus has the right to live or not. Some may regard it as living being since conception while some argue that it cannot be called living person until it reaches a certain period of development. Judith Jarvis Thomson refutes the statement that the fetus is not a living being from the moment of conception. She supports this fact because fetus begins to develop facial features, arms and legs by 6 weeks and vital organs begin to develop in the tenth week of pregnancy (Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of Abortion, 2017). Thomson thinks the right to life is more vital than right to decide what happens in the body of pregnant women. I object to her view based on contrasting idea regarding the right to life based on pregnancy occurring due to rape. Some feel the fetus have less the right to live due to pregnancy occurring due to rape. Hence on assessing Thomson’s defense of abortion, it is found that she feels that even if the fetus has the right to life, they do not have the right to use pregnant women’s bodies. In this aspect, she was found to support abortion on the ground of health of pregnant women. Thomson said that women can choose abortion to save her life based on certain limits to the right of self-defense (Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of Abortion. (2017). Therefore, her main view is that all abortion cannot be said to be unjust killing and fetus’s right to life does not means loss of the pregnant women’s right to control her own body.
I would like to object to Thomson’s view on grounds of utilitarian theory. The utilitarian theory states that best action is the ones that maximizes utility and well-being for maximum number of individuals. On that basis, the consequences of any act can be just based on right and wrong standards (Witt, 2016). According to utilitarian approach, I believe ethical action can be decided based on their results and the extent to which a person acts to maximize utility. Firstly, Thomson explained his argument with an example of the violinist and kidney donor. She stated a situation where a violinist with kidney ailment is attached to another person’s circulatory system to use his kidney for blood extraction. Here the donor is forced to be plugged with the violinist along with the condition that it is just for nine months and then he will be unplugged from the patient. Thomson questions whether a person faced with similar situation should accede to this situation (Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of Abortion, 2017). However, it cannot be denied that the relationship between a fetus and pregnant women is not the same as that of violinist and kidney donor. Thomson has focused on the pain and suffering of pregnant women due to fetus, however she has overlooked the emotional bonding and attachment of the fetus with the mother and her extended family members. For Thomson, the suffering of a pregnant woman is more on avoiding abortion; however the other aspect is that continuing pregnancy may bring new experience of happiness due to motherhood. The parents and impact on extended family also need to be considered during abortion as this may changes the possibilities of pleasure over pain for a fetus after birth (Allan, 2015).
Thomson’s defense of abortion relied on biological complexities in pregnant women, however in order to decide on the ethical rationale for going for abortion, both biological and conceptual complexities needs to be considered. Thomson’s view of abortion has certain gaps. In the violinist illustration, the woman denies a life giving treatment. However in the case of abortion, a human’s being’s life is taken away actively through poisoning and the emotional bonding is missing in the violinist illustration (Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of Abortion. (2017). In case of violinist, the relation is that of stranger-stranger relationship which can never be compared with mother-child relationship (Theofanidis, Fountouki, & Pediaditaki, 2013). The violinist analogy of Thomson suggests that a woman has no responsibility for the health of the violinist and she must protect her own body first. However, in reality the fetus is not a stranger for pregnant women and a mother has emotional attachment to the baby. Therefore, blood relationships are not based on choice but moral obligation (Unstringing the Violinist | Stand to Reason, 2017). Hence, overall impact not just on the mother’s body but also on her pleasures post-pregnancy should be considered before deciding on abortion.
In response to the objection raised for Thomson’s view on abortion, Thomson can refute the view by stating that she used the violinist analogy to explain the situation of a pregnant women considering women and what conflicts might arise in her mind at that time. Thomson supported the mother’s right of body use because she felt that a mother may decide best what is good for her and her baby. If she is not able to give a good life to her baby post birth, then her decision to go for abortion is ethical as well as beneficial in the long run too. Therefore, under certain complex circumstances during pregnancy, the mother’s right to body is also crucial apart from the fetus’s right to life. Therefore, every choice is dependent on the level of extension of moral obligations of a person (Porter, 2013).
The report brought into focus the argument raised by Judith Thomson in her article ‘A Defense of Abortion’ and discussed her view point regarding abortion. Thomson believes the fetus has the right to life but also regards the pregnant women’s right to her body as an integral choice during pregnancy. If a pregnant woman feels that pregnancy may harm her body, she may decide to go for abortion. Her argument was based on the scenario of a violinist and a kidney donor. However, the argument raised against Thomson’s abortion view, based on utilitarian theory opposed that the violinist-kidney donor relation cannot be compared with mother-child relationship and the benefits and losses of abortion should be decided based on the overall impact not just on pregnant women but also her extended family members.
Allan, L. (2015). Contraception and Abortion: A Utilitarian View. URL=< https://www. RationalRealm. com/philosophy/ethics/contraception-abortion-utilitari an-view. html.
Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of Abortion. (2017). Spot.colorado.edu. Retrieved 4 January 2017, from https://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm
Piontelli, A. (2014). Development of normal fetal movements. Springer.
Porter, L. (2013). Abortion, infanticide and moral context. Journal of medical ethics, 39(5), 350-352.
Theofanidis, D., Fountouki, A., & Pediaditaki, O. (2013). To abort or not? A Greek dilemma—case study. Nurse education today, 33(6), 644-647.
Unstringing the Violinist | Stand to Reason. (2017). Str.org. Retrieved 4 January 2017, from https://www.str.org/articles/unstringing-the-violinist#.WGyzntJ97IU
Witt, U. (2016). The transformations of utility theory: a behavioral perspective. Journal of Bioeconomics, 18(3), 211-228.
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