Judith Jarvis Thompson

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Judith Jarvis Thompson makes her case for abortion in this article from 1971. It is still one of the most referenced pro-choice arguments, even today. While Thompson does not think the unborn is a person, she is willing to grant it for argument’s sake. Even if the unborn is a person, she still believes abortion is justifiable in at least some cases, especially when a woman becomes pregnant against her will. When Thompson uses these stories to make her point, I think that the unplugging the violinist analogy helps to show her opinion in a removed scenario. The fact that she tells this story this way makes you think outside of the box. If I were to get up and unplug my back from him he will die, if I stay for nine months he will live it really takes you there to that situation. However, no it is not the same. God has no mistakes when he creates and allows a life to be formed in the womb.

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In section 4 we read about how Thompson argues that, if a woman engages in sexual intercourse voluntarily but becomes pregnant against her will she is still responsible to carry the child to term. This is when she uses the “people-seeds” analogy to argue her point. I think that this argument once again is very eye-opening to read about a situation very similar. But again, this still goes back to my original point. God makes no mistakes. Her analogies are disanalogous by the fact that sex, windows, and their screens are not the same thing. There are other options for this child and mother besides abortion. If this person does not want children there are many people that do, that cannot.

In section 7 of the article, Thompson discusses that parents have an obligation to care for their children and not harm them. According to Thompson, that obligation begins when they do not try to prevent the pregnancy. Then they do not get an abortion and lastly, they bring the child home. I do not believe she argues this point as well as she argued the others. I think that parenthood has a large difference between pregnancy and the violinist illustration. It is hard for me to envision being kidnapped and surgically hooked to someone that is relying on me to live. However, I have had two miscarriages. Those two innocent lives that my body could just not hold. The emotions that my husband and I had to go through were nothing like the analogies that Thompson could toss into her argument. Now, I have a son that is three years old. I carried my son in my womb for nine months. For me, the moment that everything became real was when I first felt him kick. However, the first time I saw his “cluster of cells” he was my child, a child of God.

Thompson does not believe all abortions are justifiable. In her mind, she says that someone that is raped it is justifiable. However, if there was a women that was seven months pregnant that wanted to take a trip aboard and wanted to have an abortion it would not be justified. She saves this piece of information until the very end of her discussion. She is pro- chioce, this that and the other then wham, pro-life.

Psalm 13-14 tells us, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”


Thomson, J. J. (1971). A Defense of Abortion. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 1(1). Retrieved from https://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm

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