Abortion Deconstructing Thomson's Violinist Model Term Paper

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Finally, Thomson in her hypothetical case introduces a concept of physical restraint and immobility that is completely inappropriate. While carrying a baby for nine months is no small task, we can all agree that it is not the same thing as having a grown adult plugged into one's kidneys. In Thomson's example, we imagine a person who essentially has to lie in bed for nine months, unable to go anywhere or do anything while this violinist feeds off her organs. Is that really how Thomson sees pregnancy? Hopefully not, as this is a stark - and even hostile - view.

Perhaps we can all agree that no unborn baby ever reaches adult size and that, in many pregnancies, the baby's size does not become a significant obstruction until the very late stages of the pregnancy. In fact, at the six-month mark a typical fetus will only weigh about a pound and a half (Battle, 1982). And, certainly, pregnant women can be quite active. Many pregnant women exercise and even travel well into their pregnancies. The body has a natural mechanism for storing and carrying an unborn baby. And while we may all agree that carrying a nine-pound baby inside one's womb is not a simple task, we can also agree that the baby is not nine pounds for the vast majority of the pregnancy and that it is still a much easier task than having a grown adult plugged into one's kidneys.

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The situations, quite simply, are not analogous.

Dismissing Thomson's hypothetical should not necessarily lead us to completely dismiss the permissibility of abortion. We can support abortion without supporting Thomson's justification for it, which is flimsy. Even if we were to recreate Thomson's analogy to make it clear that the person did have primary social responsibility for the violinist - who is no longer an adult and no longer a stranger - we would still have to acknowledge that this case would be weak.

There are, for certain, pregnancies that occur from violent acts such as rape. We could argue in those cases that the woman did nothing willingly to create the unborn baby and does not have the same level of responsibility. And, of course, there are cases where the mother's life is in danger. If we are going to argue that the baby and the mother are socially equal, we could argue that the abortion is justified because the mother has just as much right to live as the baby.

Without a doubt, there are solid justifications for abortion. Thomson's justification is not one of them. She distorts issues of responsibility, social status and physical scope to paint an unflattering picture that has, at most, a marginal connection to the abortion debate. The analogy only muddies the waters of what could otherwise be a productive discussion.


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