The Moral Permissibility of Abortion
Many opponents of abortion have based their opinions and arguments against the moral permissibility of abortion on the single premise that every fetus is a person from the very moment of conception and every person has a right to life. In this view, because every person has a right to life, it is never moral to kill a person ; therefore, abortion is never morally permissible. In speculation of this argument, Judith Jarvis Thompson wrote an article titled “A Defense of Abortion”, in which she constructs arguments in different cases, deeming abortion morally permissible when we allow the said premise that every fetus is a person from the moment of conception. Thompson's arguments are best constructed with the use of analogical experiments, in order to prove to opposers that abortion cannot be, in all cases, morally impermissible when using logical reasoning. To begin with we accept that a fetus is a person from the moment of conception. Every person has a right to life so every fetus has a right to life. Because the fetus is a part of the mother's body, the mother has the right to control what happens in and to her body however, a persons right to life is granted to be stronger than a persons right to self control. Thus, the fetus cannot be killed and abortion is impermissible. This sounds to readers like a concrete conclusion that which we can agree however, Thompson now puts us in an imagined situation where moral permissibility is not so clear and concise. Thompson's first and most effective analogical experiment reads as; You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help . They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own, The director of the hospital now tells you , “Look, we're sorry the society of music lovers did this to you-we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the violinist now is plugged into you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it's only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you.” Is is morally incumbent on you to accede the situation? No doubt it would be very nice of you if you did, a great kindness. But do you have to accede to it? […]What if the director of the hospital says, “Tough luck, I agree, but you've now got to stay in bed, with the violinist plugged into you, for the rest of your life. […] Granted you have a right to decide what happens in and to your body, but a persons right to life outweighs your right to decide what happens in and to your body. So you cannot ever be unplugged from him.” I imagine you would regard this as outrageous, which suggests that something is really wrong with that plausible-sounding argument I mentioned a moment ago. (Thompson 48-49)
In short, keeping yourself plugged to this helpless person for nine months of your life would undoubtably be kind of you, but you are not morally required to do so. Agreeing to put your own life aside to ensure a full recovery for this person is not your obligation. At this point most would argue that unplugging yourself and leaving the hospital would be morally permissible whereas remaining plugged would mean to go beyond moral expectation. It is absurd in this case that someone would be morally permitted to use your body against your will because their right to life is stronger than your right to self control and that you would lose that right by default. The right to life if not concrete and concise. The right to life is in fact extremely problematic. This seems to be the...
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