Judith Thomson's - a Defense of Abortion

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Abortion is an extremely complex and highly debated public issue that has consumed much of the American social and political arena in the late twentieth century. People on both sides of the debate present strong arguments that establish valid points. Society clearly states that child abuse and the murder of one's child is illegal, but does allow abortion. Regardless of whether it is right or wrong, the fine line that exists between abortion and murder will be discussed and debated for decades to come.

In Judith Thomson's article, "A Defense of Abortion," she argues that abortion can be morally justified in some instances, but not all cases. Clearly, in her article, Thomson argues, "…while I do argue that abortion is not impermissible, I do not argue that is always permissible" (163). Thomson feels that when a woman has been impregnated due to rape, and when a pregnancy threatens the life of a mother, abortion is morally justifiable. In order to help readers understand some of the moral dilemmas raised by abortion, Thomson creates numerous stories that possess many of the same problems.

Thomson begins her argument by questioning the validity of the argument proposed by anti-abortion activists. Thomson explains that "most opposition to abortion relies on the premise that the fetus is a human being….from the moment of conception" (153). Thomson thinks this is a premise that is strongly argued for, although she also feels it is argued for "not well" (153). According to Thomson, anti-abortion proponents argue that fetuses are persons, and since all persons have a right to life, fetuses also posses a right to life. Regardless, Thomson argues that one can grant that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception, with a right to life, and still prove that abortion can be morally justified. In order to prove this argument Thomson proposes the example of "the sick violinist."

According to this story, Thomson explains, imagine that one morning you...
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