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Abortion is currently one of the most controversial and popular social topics in the United States. It is hard to avoid: billboards line highways with anti-abortion propaganda, picketers and protesters stand outside of Planned Parenthoods, and debates over the issue smother news channels. It isn’t like there is no reason for this though, abortion is a very sensitive and difficult topic to take a stance on. To make a decision on where one stands with this touchy issue, it is important to decide from within ourselves what we believe is right and to explore the topic and philosophize the subject, rather than just let propaganda and the beliefs of other people make the decision for us. Either side of the argument is valid if the person believes in it, it is just important to really make sure that we truly believe in it because of our own ideas and morals.
In “A Defense of Abortion,” Judith Jarvis Thomson argues why abortion is morally acceptable in different types of cases. Judith starts by removing the first main argument against abortion: whether or not the fetus is considered to be a person. She knows that this is an argument that is hard to define, so she decides to prove why abortion is morally right while saying that a fetus is a person, and that there are still reasons why abortion is okay. So if the fetus is a person, and a person has a right to life, then how can abortion be moral? Thomson uses analogies and comparisons to show that other moralities can be stronger in cases of abortion than the unborn’s right to life.
Thomson uses a few different analogies to prove her points in the defense of abortion, one of these relating pregnancy to being plugged in to a dying violinist. She says to imagine being kidnapped and plugged into a famous, dying violinist who can only live if you remain in bed, attached to him, for nine months. Thomson states that, although very nice of you, you are not obligated to give up part of your life for the violinist and that you are not responsible for the outcome of his situation. The violinist has a right to life, however, the right to you living your own life outweighs the right to his life, and that you are not responsible for his right to life. Although a bit obscure, this analogy does a good job creating a scenario where you agree with Thomson, however, this analogy only truly works in the case of rape, since the person has been kidnapped and has not chosen to be attached to the violinist. This analogy, to me, was the strongest of the three, but it is limited to only one specific reason to have an abortion. I also think that, while her analogies are good at changing the context and making people see from another point of view, it is hard to look at an analogy to something as serious as abortion and view it in the same way.
In “Why Abortion is Immoral,” Don Marquis discusses why he thinks that abortion is immoral, with very few exceptions. To me, this already weakens the entire argument. Although Thomson has weaker arguments for some of her reasonings of why abortion is moral, at least she definitively sides on one end of the argument, rather than being mostly for it or mostly against it. Like Thomson, Marquis does not approach the issue with the main argument of whether or not a fetus is a person. Marquis makes the argument that killing a fetus is equally as bad as killing an innocent adult.
Marquis states that murder is wrong because of what it takes away from the victim, not how it affects the murderer or the victim’s family. Murder takes away the victim’s future, and losing everything they were going to do is the biggest loss you could suffer, according to Marquis. This translates to a fetus, by terminating their life, you are terminating the value of their future and the things their life may have led to. This is a very common argument against abortion. However, I do not think killing an unborn person is the same as killing someone who has already had a life started. A fetus has not had a present real life yet, so it is hard to consider their future when they are just existing and not yet truly living. And even ignoring rape, incest, and other more “understandable” reasons to get an abortion, if a woman wants one, it is usually because the baby is unwanted or will cause the mother a struggle to take care of. It is more likely that they will have a life of unhappiness rather than being born and being given a good life. It is important to consider whether it is better to live and be unwanted or unhappy, or to not live at all.
On this issue, I am pro-choice. Obviously I don’t celebrate abortion and I think it is a very sad and hard decision for people to make, but I do think it should be a decision a person should be allowed to make. Reasons for abortion like rape, incest, and the mother’s life being at risk are much easier for people to allow and understand, but people have a much harder time understanding and accepting other reasons to terminate pregnancy. I think it is important for people to use contraception and avoid accidental pregnancies as often as possible, but I don’t think people making a bad decision should have to be stuck with a child they do not want or cannot take care of. Adoption is a much better option, but there are a lot of flaws with the adoption/foster care system in America as well, and there are so many already born kids who need help and are living unhappy lives. I know that if I were given the option to decide whether to be born into a life where I am not wanted and not being properly cared for or not being born and never having to experience unhappiness, I would choose the latter. However, I realize many people would disagree with me.
Many also say that abortion is wrong because you are taking away their chance of a bright future, for example, I often hear people saying things like, “Maybe the baby getting aborted could have cured cancer.” Is there a tiny chance this is true? Yes. But it is more likely that the baby getting aborted is being aborted because it isn’t wanted, and living a life where you are not wanted leads a lot of people to unhealthy lives and causes them to struggle to function as adults. Obviously, this is not always true and there are many people who rise above a difficult situation growing up, however, it is much more likely that their life will end up worse rather than better. Maybe I am just heartless, or maybe I am realistic, but I think for the sake of the baby, it is better to not to be brought into a world that doesn’t want you.
Overall, I understand why people are against abortion, especially to those who consider a fetus as a person, and those who are religious and are against it. But for those people, they do not have to get abortions. But there are many reasons, that I and many others believe are morally correct, to choose to terminate a pregnancy. Sure, the aborted fetus could have grown up and lived a happy, successful life, but it is equally, if not more, likely that they could’ve lived a miserable and hopeless life. The woman carrying the baby should be the one who gets to decide if she wants to go through the pain, discomfort, and hardships of pregnancy and decide what she feels is the best thing to do for herself and the fetus relying on her body.
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