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Ethical Analysis of Abortion

  • Date Submitted: 05/23/2011 08:56 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 41 
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In “A Defense of Abortion” Judith Jarvis Thompson weaves an argument built on the assumption that a fetus is a person to build her arguments to defend abortion. She uses a quantitative approach to the rights of the mother, fetus, and that of the right to life to create linear steps in the logic that lead to a morally sound rationalization of abortion for the mother, fetus, and third parties. However there are a few sticking points but generally it holds up enough to justify the conclusion. I aim to analyze the argument, validate the premises and expose the holes as to balance my thoughts on abortion.
To defend abortion Thompson quantifies the right to life and right to do what one wants to their body then stacks the rights to create a balance that shifts towards the mother for ownership of the body being used. Thompson argues “…What we have to keep in mind is that the mother and the child are not unlike two tenants in a small house which has, by an unfortunate mistake, been rented to both; the mother owns the house”. By no means does Thompson attempt to delegitimize the right to life of the fetus instead she draws the lines of what is an unfortunate situation, and the rationalization for the means to remedy it. Throughout the essay there lies a subtle quantification of the rights of the fetus and mother which creates a very black and white view of the subject of abortion clearing away what appears to be extraneous details in order to reach the heart of the matter; however this utilitarian view does not leave room for the added weight that foreknowledge of a possible pregnancy carries with it.
Thompson uses logical examples aimed at illustrating the permissibility of abortion for the mother that when held up to the doctrine of double effect proves morally fallible, and create a conundrum that gives little leeway for the argument for and against when the mother’s life is threatened abortion.   Thompson writes with the presumption that the mother will die if the...


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