The first argument is one that takes a position to support the idea that abortion, in certain cases, is morally permissible or is acceptable to do. The argument is given by Judith Jarvis Thompson. She concedes to the idea that the fetus is a person and is given the right to life for the sake of argument and to get into the moral permissibility, or the right and wrong of each decision depending on the circumstances for having an abortion. The right to life is simply your right to live and have a life without someone taking that right from you by killing you or hindering it in some way.
She concedes to the idea that the fetus is a person to bypass that argument and get into situations even assuming the the fetus is a person. Her view on abortion consists of the right to life of the fetus is overtaken by that of the mother. In other words, the mother’s life should come before a fetus’s life. She believes that in the case of two persons right to life conflicting one another, that one of the person’s right to life must be more important than the other.
Thompson believes that in a case of rape, where the mother did not consent to sex, but a fetus was still brought into existence, the mother does not have to be bound by that situation and can choose an abortion if she decides to. She gives the argument that a decision is made between what someone ought to do and what someone has the right to do. In this case she believes that the woman has the right to have an abortion because she did not agree to it. Thompson argues that in the case of rape it violates a woman’s autonomy, or the ability to have control over her own body or what happens to it.
Another case that Thompson provides is one that concerns the life of the mother is at risk due to carrying the fetus. She argues that a women can defend her life even in the case that it would kill the fetus. She believes that the fetus, being a threat to the mother’s life, is grounds for the mother to defend her life and therefore makes an abortion morally permissible. Thompson gives an argument for cases of consensual sex as well, being where the mother and father were both in agreeance to it and a fetus came into existence due to their decision to partake in consensual sex.
She bears the question of whether or not the right to life gives you the right to sustain the bare minimum of life. She argues that it is the right not to be killed unjustly. Thompson provides the question of whether or not the fetus has a right to use the mother’s body even in the case that it was created in consensual sex. She rejects it and claims that the fetus still does not have the right to use the mother’s body and killing it does not violate the fetus’s right to life. She uses an example of a burglar breaking into her home even though she voluntarily left the window open.
Her conclusion is that the burglar clearly does not have the right to stay and use her house. Her last argument is one about a woman that is on birth control. Thompson argues that even a woman who creates a fetus while on birth control, does not have an obligation to that fetus and has the right to kill it if she decides to. She argues that even in a case where the mother takes the risk of pregnancy, the mother does not owe any special responsibility to the fetus or give it the right to use her body.
Even when using birth control she claims that the mother does not owe any support to the fetus or allow it to grow in her body to term. An argument that is against abortion, given by Don Marquis, claims that abortion is wrong in nearly all cases and what makes killing people wrong. Marquis gives a definition of abortion as being “an action intended to bring about the death of a fetus for the sake of the woman who carries it. ” Marquis says that both sides of the argument can agree that everyone has a right to life. His question then becomes what it is that makes a person be dentified as a person. He gives the criteria for being a person is simply being identified as biologically human. He argues that statement saying that, that criteria is too broad and his example of that is human cancer cells being identified under that criteria. Human cancer cells are obviously not something given rights thus making the criteria too broad.
An example of a narrow definition consists of the points that personhood consists of “having a concept of self that persists through time, desires its continued existence, and is can set goals for future life and how to achieve those goals. Obviously a fetus is not developed to have those abilities so it crosses that argument as too narrow. Marquis moves on to what makes killing entities that are similar to us wrong. He brings into the argument that what makes it wrong is the loss to friends and family, the degradation or wearing down and suffering that it causes the killer, and the loss of a future life. The problem he provides with that is that the first point he makes about friends and family, rule out people without those things and would make it morally permissible to kill those people.
He claims that the second point has a problem where what is done the the victim causes the degradation and suffering of the perpetrator which would make the murder have no way of being wrong. The problem with his last point is that if someone falls into a coma and will live for thirty years and die or fall into a coma and die, the third criteria would make the second option wrong which poses his argument to it. His proposal then leads to his idea of a “future like ours. ” Marquis argues that what makes killing people like us wrong is the loss of “future goods of a conscious life.
Future goods of a conscious life being what we get out of life and that an abortion is a premature death and deprives the fetus of these future goods. Marquis explains what makes future goods valuable in saying that those things in the future that he will or would experience are valuable whether or not he values them now. It is simply not what he would desire now, but what he would desire if he were to experience them. The “future like ours” concept covers the fetus and what makes killing entities like us wrong strengthening his argument.
It also explains why it is not okay to intentionally kill someone who is temporarily unconscious. This concept covers abortion, but Marquis does not argue that abortion is always wrong because this concept states that killing in self-defense or to save one’s own life is not wrong. His exceptions are that of rape, when the fetus does not develop to the point of having a brain, or in the first fourteen days of pregnancy. If the fetus does not develop a brain then Marquis believes there is no ability for a conscious person to emerge.
In the case of the first fourteen days he argues that the zygote (beginning stages of a fetus), has a chance to split into two and thus there is no individual present to be wronged. Of the two arguments that are presented about abortion, the argument given by Judith Jarvis Thompson is the weakest. She gives an argument of being attached to a famous violinist that was done without your permission and neither of the candidates knew it was going to happen. The violinist will die if you detach and do not allow him to use your body to filter his blood.
She then uses this example as an argument against anyone who opposes abortion to say that it is agreeable to a case of rape. The example she uses cannot be applied to a case of rape. I agree that it does correspond with the argument that the violinist was attached to you unwillingly and the decision you have to make is similar, but it varies. Her argument does not say that the violinist will be unconscious while you are attached and if we can assume that he will not be then he will have a say on whether or not he wants you to stay attached. That is not the same terms as a case of rape would ensue.
A baby has not developed a consciousness in able to have a say in what happened. The baby is in the same situation as the mother in that, he did not choose to live inside of the mother. That point is shown in the violinist case, but the violinist still has a potential to speak on the incident unlike the child would. Also, the mother has a choice to give the baby for adoption rather than kill it in the womb. If she does not want to care for the child, she can allow someone to adopt it that can. Another argument making abortion morally permissible that is presented by Thompson is an argument of an endangered mother’s life.
She gives the example that the mother is trapped in a tiny house with a large baby that is already pushing her against the walls and soon will crush her to death. This argument is not consistent with a case of abortion in that it placed the baby outside of the fetus and the baby being oversized. The mother would also have other places in the house to go to possibly avoid getting crushed by the enlarged baby. Even though it says the house is tiny, she is freely able to move and avoid being crushed. The baby that is in the fetus can only be predicted that it will endanger the mother’s life.
There is not an absolute to that, which makes the abortion a precaution rather than a last resort. If it is a case of consensual sex, the mother took the risk of taking actions that have a product that can lead to this. Instead of killing one person in the abortion, it can be looked at as trying to save two lives instead of one by not having the abortion, thus avoiding the right to life case by deciding which right trumps the other and having the potential to save more than just one life. Even in a case of rape, there is still an outcome where both the mother and child both live instead of one being decided to be the only one to survive.