Morality And Ethics Essay

2422 words - 10 pages

Judith Thompson presents an interesting slant on the moral permissibility of abortion in that she assumes the fetus is a person from conception, therefore having the right to life. However, the fetus’ right to life does not suggest that it has the right to unlimited means to ensure its survival. An abortion is still permissible if the mother does not grant fetus the right to use her body. Thompson gives several analogies of scenarios in which abortions are morally permissible, in which the right for mother to have an abortion outweighs the fetus’ right to use the mother’s body. In the Jane scenario she would argue that it is ultimately morally impermissible for her to obtain an abortion ...view middle of the document...

However this scenario can be rearranged in that for one small time frame, the homeowner did not put up the screens, and so a seed floats in and roots. Even though the owner did not utilize proper precautions, it should not be seen as an invitation for the seeds to root in the house. Although the owner is aware of the possibility of unwanted seeds rooting, it does not necessarily mean that by not setting up the protective screens, she openly invites the seeds to root. Jane and her husband did not use a condom during intercourse knowing the possibility of contraception, but that should not be seen as Jane implicitly giving the fetus permission to use her body. This draws parallels with another of Thompson’s analogies, in which a robber enters through a house through a window left open by the owner. The owner opens the window knowing that burglars could possibly come inside, but the intent is simply to relieve the room of stuffiness. It would be incredulous to say that the burglar can now stay in the house because the owner voluntarily did what enabled him to get in, therefore being responsible for his presence. Even though Jane voluntarily chose to engage in unprotected sex, with the knowledge that it may lead to pregnancy, such knowledge is not sufficient enough to justify that by doing so, the mother gives the fetus the right to use her body. Thompson argues that if the reasonable precautions are followed and conception still occurs, then the mother does not give the fetus the right to use her body to live and can under justice, obtain an abortion.
However, Jane does not attempt to attain an abortion immediately after learning that she is pregnant, instead choosing to carry the developing fetus to term. Part of Thompson’s reasonable precautions is that the mother must make the effort to obtain an abortion. Since Jane decided to carry the baby to the beginning of the second trimester, it can be inferred that she has given the fetus the right to use her body. Thompson believes that that the mother does not have any moral requirement to keep the fetus alive unless she has contracted an obligation towards it. She illustrates this through her dying violinist example. In that scenario, a person kidnapped by the Society of Music Lovers and his kidneys hooked up to that of an unconscious famous violinist, who has an fatal kidney disease, is told that only he can save him. The person is required to be stay in bed, with his kidneys providing life support to the violinist for nine months until he is cured of his disease (Thompson 49). One might insist the right thing for the person to do is to stay in bed for nine months, because unhooking himself from the violinist would deprive him or his life. Such a notion seems overly demanding, because the person held hostage was attached to the violinist against his own will. In the case of Jane’s predicament, the fetus’ moral status does not parallel that of the violinist. The person has not given the violinist...

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