Thompson's Moral Stance On Abortion

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Most people would base their moral stance on abortion on exactly when they believe ‘life’ begins; and when a foetus consequently becomes a person. However, the absence of an empirically determined timescale means that anybody’s guess is valid here, and so unless one side can produce an argument that is equally relevant regardless of whether the foetus is human yet, debates on the topic are essentially reduced to ‘yes-no’ level quarrels. Thompson (A Defence of Abortion, 1971) made an attempt at such an argument with her violinist example. Here she argues that one would not be morally obliged to spend nine months plugged into a strangers’ circulatory system to prevent them from dying of kidney failure, and that it therefore follows that a woman …show more content…
With a right to life comes a right to a decent quality of life, including ambitions, individual identity and autonomy. To many people, having children is in keeping with and/or essential to these features of existence, but for those for whom it is not, an unwanted child would mean sacrificing all of them – not for 9 months as with the violinist, but for the rest of their life. No one would be expected to make such a commitment for someone they do not know, and as Thompson points out (but fails to expand on), biology is no basis on which to treat someone as anything more than a stranger. This means that in the case of an accidental pregnancy resulting from circumstances including but not limited to failed birth control or rape (in the comprehensive sense of the word referring to physical rape, emotional/social blackmail, sexual coercion ect.) the mother has no special responsibility towards the child because she has had no say in it’s existence. That said, when abortion is an option, the decision to not have one and consequently to give birth is making a commitment that it is morally wrong to break, and at this point –and only at this point – do the unique parent-child responsibilities set in. Therefore, the parent can only be held unreservedly responsible for a child if abortion was a viable option, as it is only in this situation that he/she would have been able to willingly commit to these responsibilities at the expense of their own …show more content…
The issue here is that in giving a child up for adoption, a parent still makes the decision to give birth, (again, assuming that abortion was initially an option) and as addressed are therefore morally responsible for the child’s wellbeing. This poses a problem for two reasons. Firstly, the adoption process is by no means a well-established one. In March 2015, only 5% of the children in the care of the UK state were adopted, and among these the average waiting time was 533 days – easily long enough to impact development. The second problem is that people’s emotions (particularly women’s) have evolved to protect children themselves, though they have yet to evolve to account for logic. This means that while the parent may logically know that giving up a child is giving them the best chance at happiness, the decision can still result in emotional devastation that may affect a his/her life nearly as much as a present child. Adoption is not the get-out clause that pro-life campaigners claim it to be therefore, but another life-long ordeal that no one should be forced to go through because of a mere biological relationship to another

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