Judith Thomson's A Defense Of Abortion By Judith Thomson

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Register to read the introduction… She suggests that because a pregnancy is such a great sacrifice, that, while women should carry a child to term after becoming pregnant, we cannot require them to do so. This argument also requires that the fetus’ right to life is subject to the mother’s whim and does not carry as much weight as the first two arguments. Thomson concludes the article by saying that she is not attempting to delineate the circumstances in which a pregnancy might be morally permissible and those in which it isn’t, but rather to make it clear that even if we consider a fetus to be a person, that abortion can still be morally permissible. This weakens her argument a great deal, instead of providing a proscriptive criterion to base the morality of abortion on, she simply provides what may be a series of fringe cases to establish that while abortion is normally wrong, it isn’t always so.
Thomson’s argument on abortion is fundamentally deontological. She presents the view that the right of the mother to her bodily integrity carries greater value than the right to life of the fetus. She presents very convincing cases in instances where the pregnancy is due to violence – through rape or abuse, and a somewhat weaker argument that applies to unwanted pregnancies that occur even though reasonable precautions had been
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Creating such a framework in 1971 may have been somewhat ahead of its time, but might have aided the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973. A moral framework of this nature would have been instrumental in developing the associated legal framework. As it stands, the legal status of abortion in the United States suffers from grave constitutional concerns and periodic attacks. Thomson’s argument is not incorrect, but suffers from the fatal flaw of being too narrow in scope. If she had considered rights other than the fetus’ right to life and the mother’s right to her bodily integrity, she would not have needed to resort to a rather non-intuitive argument that one’s right to life is simply the right not to be killed unjustly. The concept of justified killing is most commonly encountered in the concepts of self-defense, war and capital punishment, all of which seem somewhat extreme cases to compare to

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