.. ith Jarvis Thomson uses her violinist argument to show why abortion should be legal. The argument follows: you wake up one morning and find yourself hooked up intravenously to a famous violinist who is unconscious. You discover the violinist has a fatal kidney ailment and your blood type and kidneys alone are the only things that can save his life. If you choose to unplug yourself from the violinist, he will most certainly die.
You were connected to this person against your will and had you known this was going to happen, you would have never given consent. If you choose to stay hooked to the violinist, he will recover form his ailment in nine months and then go on to live a healthy and productive life. The question of “does this person’s right to life supersede your right to decide what happens to your own body” comes into play at this point. Thomson equates choosing to unattach yourself from the violinist to deciding to have an abortion. She then goes on to state that your actions would most certainly be justified if you chose to disconnect yourself. According to Thomson, regardless of the fact that the violinist will die if you unplug yourself, your right to decide what happens to your own body outweighs his rights to life.
There are a few problems that arise when Thomson’s argument is closely examined. First of all, the fetus is never older than its mother whereas the violinist may be. The “right to life abortionists” focus on the premise that you are taking the life of a child who has its whole life ahead of it. The violinist may have already lived a fulfilling life. Secondly, the woman was involuntarily hooked to the violinist whereas (in this example) a pregnant woman generally gets pregnant because she chooses to do so. The pregnant woman does not directly give the fetus permission to implant itself in her uterine wall however, she does give it the means necessary to attach itself.
If this premise is followed, the pregnant woman chose to impregnate herself, voluntarily. There are exceptions to this premise such as, rape or molestation, which may result in pregnancy that require special attention. However, for the sake of brevity, the ideal case where the woman chooses to have intercourse in order to give a fetus the necessary means to implant itself will be followed for this argument. Finally, the violinist is not the woman’s child whereas the fetus is. A woman has no biological ties to the famous violinist.
Half of her fetuses genetic makeup comes from her chromosomes. This biological link can be a strong bond for the mother to her fetus. The woman connected to the violinist has no personal ties to this person therefore, she may feel no obligation to sacrifice part of her own life in order to save a strangers. When the issue of contraceptives is brought up, a whole new argument arises. For instance, most devout anti-abortionists agree that the use of the birth control pill is an acceptable form of contraception.
These people are ignorant hypocrites. They are either unaware of the fact that the pill works by not allowing the fertilized egg to implant into the uterine wall or else they just choose to ignore it. Therefore, every time a woman has intercourse while she is on the pill, there is a chance she may be causing the death of a ‘child”. If the right-winged anti-abortionists were educated in the physiology of the birth control pill, they would have to declare its use immoral. The I.U.D.
is a birth control method comparable to the pill. It is a small, Y-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted into the uterus. Whenever a fertilized egg attempts to attach itself to the nutrient-rich uterine wall, the harsh plastic of the I.U.D. scrapes it off. This method also ends a potential life but you don’t hear the anti-abortion extremists protesting its use. Woman who use the I.U.D., could be convicted of mass murder if the Supreme Court were to outlaw abortion.
If “right-to-lifers are to be consistent in their beliefs, people who strongly believe in a fetuses right to life should only use birth control methods which do not allow implantation of the embryo. The include the male/female condom, diaphragm with foam, the rhythm method, or abstinence. These types of child prevention are not supposed to allow sperm and egg to unite. Other forms of birth control actually end the germination process of an embryo which should be labeled morally unacceptable by anti-abortionists if they are not to be declared hypocrites. A justification for the woman’s right to have an abortion comes from the potentiality argument. The argument goes: “Jon once was a fetus.
Now Jon is a human. It does not follow from this that Jon is now a fetus.” Jon will never again be a fetus therefore, human rights given to Jon should not be given to the fetus simply because Jon was once a fetus and is now a human. If fetuses were to be given human rights simply because they will one day be a human then we as logical beings would have to alter our entire way of thinking. We could never drop a piece of fabric, for it may one day be sewn into an American flag. We must not scratch a piece of metal, for it may one day be the fender of a Rolls Royce.
The list could go on and on and as it did, it would get more and more ridiculous. The fact that the fetus will one day be a human should not be given consideration when debating abortion because of the potentiality argument. Abortion is an issue that the majority of Americans have a definite opinion about. It can usually be broken down into religious groups. Those who believe strongly in “the word of God” are the ones who admonish abortion and all who practice it. Some of these extremists would deny a woman the chance for an abortion even in the case where she has been impregnated because of a rape or incest. They site one of the Ten Commandments which states “Thou shalt not kill” as their guiding light. This is ironic since these very people have been known to murder Doctors who perform abortions.
Most anti-abortionists are not so drastic. They would allow abortions to be legal under certain circumstances such as pregnancies that occurred because of rape, molestation, or incest. Are these moderates being hypocritical by taking this view? Regardless of who the father is or how the mother got pregnant, half the genetic make-up of the child still belongs to her. If you are going to take an anti-abortion stance, you should not allow these victimized women to have an abortion. On the other hand, people who support the woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion are typically liberals who don’t affiliate strongly with any one religion.
They generally don’t deny that a potential human is being destroyed when an abortion takes place. However, they believe the life and desires of the already living woman outweigh any rights the fetus may have. Since I am an Epicureanist, I believe each woman should be given the means by which they can get a safe, legal abortion if they so choose. Whatever promotes the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of already living woman should be promoted by the government. The State should not place restrictions on the woman’s right to govern what she does with her own body. Women who are desperate enough to seek out an abortion are not going to abandon the idea simply because the government has declared it illegal. They will search out back alley abortions which would be unsanitary, dangerous, and possibly lethal.
The health of women cannot be put in jeopardy simply because a few bureaucrats have a moral dilemma with abortion. Because having an abortion is legal, does not mean anyone is forced into aborting their fetus. If you choose to carry your child to term, more power to you. However, don’t enforce your morality onto others. Allow people the right to be individuals and establish their own morality.
If the government were to step in and attempt to regulate morality in this case, it could create an avalanche of laws concerning moral issues. This country is based on the premise of freedom, let’s keep it that way.