Abortion, personhood, fetus


In debating abortion, the focus is typically on whether or not a fetus is a person. It is generally thought that if a fetus is a person, it has a right to life and killing it would be wrong. However, Judith Jarvis Thomson (1971) changed the focal point of the argument. She was willing to grant personhood to the fetus, yet still argued that the mother’s right to decide how her body should be used outweighs a fetal right to life, since it is dependent on the mother’s body. She brilliantly illustrates this with a scenario involving a kidnapped person (the sustainer) who has been unwillingly hooked up to a famous violinist to sustain the violinist’s life. This results in the sustainer being bedridden for nine months.



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