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Argument Analysis: Judith Jarvis Thomason's a Defense of Abortion

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Danny Cross

Prof. Cecere

PHI 220-101M Ethics


Argument Analysis: Judith Jarvis Thomson’s A Defense of Abortion

        Judith Jarvis Thomson’s main thesis in this article was an argument that a fetus is not a person from the moment of conception, and that abortion is not always impermissible but also not always permissible. Meaning that abortion is sometimes acceptable, even if the fetus is considered persons. The circumstances surrounding an abortion color the permissibility morally. She discusses multiple situations where the mother would need an abortion for her own right to live a full life. This thesis implies that the morality of abortion is not black and white but is in fact very contextual. She goes into detail with multiple scenarios stemming from the violinist to make her points very clear that abortion is on occasion the only reasonable solution to certain problems. She also starts with her oppositions claims and proves them wrong in a very through fashion. Her premises are more about how false her oppositions premises are than they are about her actual thoughts.

Her argument is Inductive because she makes broad generalizations about her oppositions premises. The argument is strong and cogent, all her points make perfect sense and she uses imaginative situations to where both men and women can look at this very female topic and have a perspective on it. She not only has many premises but all of them are true.  All of her premises are that the oppositions premises are false and every premise of her opposition she proposes, she subsequently gives a situation where abortion would be the only logically outcome proving those very premises wrong.  From the very first paragraph she is discussing how a fetus is a human being from the moment of conception. But later on, in the paragraph she chalks this up as a slippery slope fallacy which it is indeed. Because she proves that if every person has a right to life and every person has the right to decide what shall happen to their body obviously the right to life is stronger, but in cases where pregnancy would kill the mother, according to that logic the mother must sit and watch her life fade away as she grows more pregnant. To illustrate this situation, it is as if you died after the nine months with the violinist but he would be healthy, that would be an even larger outrage.

        Her premises are very true and she goes into detail about how they cannot be false. Where in the cases of pregnancy in the result of rape, abortion is necessary. In the cases of abortion where it is for the women’s health it is necessary. When discussing health, she uses an analogy about a child growing uncontrollable inside a tiny house, and the women is the house. The child eventually grows up and walks away unharmed but leaving the house in shambles. It is not right that a mother should have to watch their impending death approach and not take action to defend their own right to live. As much of a right as the fetus has to live it is outdone by their mothers right to take action to protect their own life. She also discusses that they need to prove that the abortion is an unjust killing. In the case of rape, the mother did not consent to this child using her body for food and shelter and therefor it would be just. But if she voluntarily called it into this world and then discovered that it will cause her medical issues, how can she be just in killing it, or that it would simply hamper their lifestyle and cause pain and unpleasant situations this would be an unjust killing.

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