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Current Moral and Social Issues- Section 2

The Judith Thomson article relies on the argument that at the moment of conception, the fetus is a human being. In truth, all aspects on the topic of abortion depend on where to draw the line of where life actually begins. Some argue that it is a human being at the moment of birth because it can survive outside the womb respectively. But Thomson expresses her interest in all the factors and premises that are attached to theory of life at conception.

Taking this into consideration Thomson states ?Everyone has a right to life, so the fetus has a right to life? (Thomson 153). Now, when I first read this statement I initially agreed with it. But when Thomson brought in the analogy of the violinist, I realized that a lot more issues are at hand. She explained how the violinist?s life would be completely dependent on my participation (physically and mentally) and being something which I did not sanction (being kidnapped). This already obviously creates a flaw in the ?right to life? theory. Being unplugged from the violinist would result in his death and therefore would be directly killing him. But in the same manner I ?did not volunteer that the violinist be plugged into me? (154). So someone making this observation would most likely be inclined to make an exception (in this case), do to the fact that I did not willfully take upon the responsibility and burden.

Thomson correctly relates that situation to a case of pregnancy due to rape. Which already would involve a nine month term followed by painful labor all of which was caused against your will. Now in response she says,

?They can say that all persons have a right to life, but that some have less of a right than others, in particular, that those who came into existence because of rape have less? (154)

and later saying how some people do not make an exception in the case of rape because of it. In a sense this is an assumption in which I disagree with. Being forcefully put through the emotional and psychological aspects of rape are damaging within themselves. To have to alter the rest of your life, goals, hopes, and dreams because of something you did not want to undertake in the first place is a valid argument.

Also in question is the subtext of the phrase ?right to life?. Thomson uses the situation of Henry Fonda to explain a different angle saying,

?If I am sick unto death, and the only thing that would save my life is the touch of Henry Fonda?s

hand on my fevered brow, then all the same, I have no right to be given the touch of is hand on my brow? (157).

Henry Fonda would not be obligated to save her life, all it would be is a good act on the part of Mr. Fonda. Factually he is not under any contractual moral guidelines to do so. Also by not saving her life, it cannot be said that Henry Fonda directly killed an innocent person. This all can be related back to the case of the violinist. The violinist has no right to use my body unless I give him that right. Being kidnapped is an act against my will, and having the violinist plugged into me is also against my will. And if I chose not to give him that right, I am not directly killing an innocent person or committing murder. I could also consciously say that I do not want in any way the violinist to die but in the same manner I do not have to take upon the responsibility of his life.

Thomson relates this back again to the issue of pregnancy due to rape presuming, ?thus aborting them is not depriving them of anything they have a right to and hence is not unjust killing? (159). The unborn child who is half the DNA of the rapist unfortunately does not have full right to the mothers body. It would be different if basis of the pregnancy was consensual. On these grounds, it provides justification that not all abortion is murder or unjust killing. But all abortions are not just done for the cases of rape. There are many other cases such as when a condom breaks and the women becomes impregnated.

In my personal translation, these specific cases relate to Thomson’s example of the people seeds. She describes people seed that travel in the same manner as air pollen. If one drifts in through your window it will take root and develop into a person. Now, since you do not want children you start to ?fix up the windows with fine mesh screens, the very best you can buy? (159). Thomson then continues explaining how in certain rare cases the mesh screen is defective and a people seed will enter your house. Now you have a person plant developing and the question arises whether it has a right to use the house. Thomson believes that it should not and I am in agreement. But some may argue that,

?you voluntarily opened your windows, you knowingly kept carpets and upholstered furniture, and you knew that screens were sometimes defective. And you could have lived your life with bare floors and furniture, or with sealed windows and doors? (159)

In relating this to abortion issues, this is like arguing that if you do not want children then you should not have sex. A belief that some would see even applicable to a married couple who cannot afford a hysterectomy, because condoms are only around eighty eight percent effective. I am not saying that abortion is by any means the solution to all this. It should really be used only in certain cases as a last resort. But who is in the position of power to decide if a specific abortion is unjust killing. In honest truth, I am a person who went to a Catholic Grammar school and High School. All throughout my childhood I was taught through the strict Catholic views of Pro-Life. After reading Thomson?s article I now begin to question the closed minded view that I was taught. There are some cases in life in which abortion can be justified, and yet I see many cases in which abortion is murder. For me abortion has now become an unresolved topic, but this is all in thanks to Judith Thomson.


judith thomson

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