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Thomson defines abortion as the termination of pregnancy either voluntarily or involuntarily. According to Ronald (2008), there are various defenses against abortion that Thomson has created basing her arguments on philosophical knowledge. Thomson points out that, one of the fundamental rights granted to human beings is right to life. According to her, this is the right that that the people who oppose abortion base their argument upon. According to Ronald, Thomson’s defenses challenges the arguments created against abortion using the idea of the right to life.
According to Thomson, the major argument used by people who oppose abortion is that a fetus is considered as a person, from the moment of conception. Thomson acknowledges that it is very impossible for anyone to draw a line to distinguish where the life of a fetus starts. She also supports the notion that a fetus is a person even before its birth through the idea that it acquires human characteristics as early as nine weeks. Ronald (2004) points out that Thomson however challenges this argument by using various philosophical facts. She argues that a fetus can not be considered as a human being because it is just a newly fertilized ovum, a newly implanted clump of cells. This is because she compares a newly implanted fetus equal to acorn in an oak tree, which is not considered a tree till it matures up.
Ronald (2008), points out that Thomson uses the illustration of a violinist to make her arguments more clear. Through this illustration she raises many defenses against pregnancy on the issue of right to life. In this experiment the music lovers kidnaps a person and without his or her knowledge starts using his or her kidneys to support the life of the dying violinist suffering from kidney failure. Thomson uses the aspect of kidnapping to stand for rape that leads to pregnancy. According to her, the kidnapped person didn’t give the violinist any right to use his or her body and hence has every right to detach himself or herself from him. However Thomson explains that detaching him or herself, the kidnapped person will be denying the violinist the right to life.
From the experiment, Thomson argues that the person was in the first place kidnapped and hence did not willingly give any right to the kidnapper to use his or her body to support his life. So according to her, the kidnapped person has every right to detach himself or herself from the violinist even though it is considered as denying him the right to life. According to Ronald (2008), Thomson compares the kidnapped person as the woman who gets pregnant through rape. According to her, the pregnant woman didn’t give any right to the unborn child the right to use her body to support its life. Therefore she points out that the woman has every right to carry out an abortion even though by doing it, she will be denying the child the right to life.
In the experiment, Thomson brings in the idea of the kidnapped person’s life being threatened as a result of supporting the life of the violinist. According to Ronald, she likens such a situation to a mother whose life is threatened due to the existence of a pregnancy. The kidnapped person has every right to detach himself or herself from the violinist even though it is considered as denying the violinist his right to life. According to Thomson, by detaching himself or herself, the kidnapped person will not be doing injustice to the violinist. This is due to the fact that, the person’s right to life is being violated by the violinist’s right to life. Therefore Thomson argues that, if the right to life of an unborn child is violating the right to life of its mother, then an abortion is inevitable. In summary, Thomson argues that the idea of right to life should not be used to oppose abortion to a limit that it overrides the other rights of a human being.
Marquis’ Anti - abortion Argument
According to marquis, abortion is seriously wrong and an act that should be considered very immoral. He bases his arguments on the idea that abortion is tantamount to killing the unborn baby and hence terminating its life. He points out that by terminating a fetus life, it is depriving it the right to a future like ours. As pointed out by Ronald earlier, one of the fundamental rights of a human being is the right to life. Marcus therefore argues that, fetus is a human being and hence has a right to life.
By advocating for abortion, Marquis points out that we are advocating for deaths of innocent human beings, which is wdXP0bs0 morally wrong. He also argues that by killing the fetus, the mother will be depriving the baby a future like hers. He argues that if for instance we people were aborted by our mothers during the fetus stage, then we could not have lived to see and value our future.
However as pointed out by Ronald, the argument of Thomson is very convincing because it is based on philosophical ideas. Therefore, it seems Marquis gets convinced after reading Thomson’s argument because he later changes his argument that abortion is not always wrong. Marquis revises his original argument and comes up with a new one that allows abortion under some circumstances. According to Ronald, the revised version of Marquis’ argument allows abortion in case the pregnancy was due to rape, before fourteen days of conception and if the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life. According to Ronald, this revision on his anti - abortion argument exposes it to criticism because it implies that there are instances that the right to life of fetus is not respected.
According to Marquis, the right to life overrides the right of a person to control his or her own body. This means that according to Marquis, the right to life carries more weight compared to the right to choose what happens to and in a person’s body. Therefore, according to Marquis the right of a pregnant mother to undertake an abortion even for healthy reasons is outweighed by the right to life of the fetus and hence carrying an abortion is morally wrong.
Another line of argument of marquis is created through criticizing the criteria of argument of people who support abortion. According to Ronald one argument of Thomson is that a newly fertilized ovum cannot be qualified to be called a person just as the same case acorn cannot qualify to be called an oak tree. According to Marquis, he thinks that the people who support abortion consider fetus as not rational and beings that possess no capacity to communicate in complex ways just like acorn or a mature oak tree. Due to this, Marquis argue that these people therefore tend to think that a fetus cannot qualify to be a person.
To counter this argument, Marquis points out that the anti – abortionists do not use the word person but human being showing that they don’t refer to a fetus as a whole person but a being that has all the human characteristics. Therefore he believes that all humans, whatever their race, gender, religion or age, have the right to life. Since fetus is classified as a human being, then it has a right to life and hence killing it is morally wrong.
Ronald points out that Marquis also acknowledges the point that those who believe that abortion is permissible try to find a way of possessing the right to life so that fetus are not included in the right to life as they cannot be able to possess it. Marquis supports his argument by explaining that if a pregnant woman who believes abortion is correct is given the chance to posses the right to life, then her right to choose what happens to or in her body overrides the right to life and this generates the right to have an abortion. In summary, Marquis’ arguments oppose abortion because it denies the fetus the right to see and enjoy a valuable future like ours. So, killing a fetus should be considered equal to killing an innocent adult which is lawfully and morally wrong.
The Strength of Thomson’s and Marquis’ Account on Abortion
According to the various philosophical assessments done on the two accounts, it shows that the account of Marquis is stronger than that of Thomson. The major weakness of Thomson’s account has been realized by the way Thomson starts her argument. She points out that the people who oppose abortion like Marquis use the idea that a fetus is a human being and hence should be given the right to life like any other. According to philosopher Francis Beckwith, he points that Thomson herself agrees that it is very difficult to draw a line to indicate where the life of a fetus starts. Ronald points out that Thomson acknowledges that the life of a person starts before birth and therefore she unknowingly supports Marquis’ argument. Francis therefore points out that, Marquis’ argument that life starts at conception is philosophically right.
Thomson’s use of the violinist’s experiment has also been argued by philosophers as being very wrong. As Ronald explains, Thomson uses the experiment to liken it to a situation where a mother has conceived due to rape. Francis argues that Thomson’s volunteerism idea in the experiment opposes family morality. He explains that the experiment tries to imply that only voluntary obligations should be considered right. He says this is morally wrong, as there are true moral obligations that a parent must fulfill for their children even though not on voluntarily basis. Francis therefore, portrays Marquis’ argument that the right to life overrides the right of a person to choose what happens to or in her body, as philosophically right.
In conclusion, the philosophers argue that the right to life of an unborn child should not be possessed by the mother. They point out that, since the fetus is considered as a human being, then it has every reason to have a right to life which is not dictated by any person, not even its mother.