Analysis Of Judith Thomson's A Defense Of Abortion

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Judith Thomson’s A Defense of Abortion is an article defending abortion on the grounds of rights, duties, and justice. Thomson uses various thought experiments to represent different circumstances surrounding a pregnancy and the permissibility of abortion in these circumstances. One such thought experiment that she uses in her argument is the burglar example. If you open a window and a burglar climbs into your house, anti-abortionists would argue that the burglar has a right to stay in your house and you have a duty to shelter him because you are partially responsible for his presence there. Even if you install bars specifically to keep out burglars and the burglar still manages to break in then you are still partially responsible and he still…show more content…
However, I do not believe that the burglar thought experiment is an analogy that accurately explains this concept if a mother gets pregnant due to failed contraception. First of all, the burglar in question has ill intent if he plans to break into your house and steal something from you. A fetus has no bad intent and is a victim of circumstance in this situation. A burglar is an adult that has the ability to use reason and understands that there are consequences to his actions of burglary. People that support abortion often cite the fact that abortion is permissible because a fetus has no rational capacities like children and adults do. This same way of thinking means that a fetus has no choice or ability to make decision when it comes to whose womb they inhabit as a result of failed contraception. Again, I am not arguing that abortion would not be morally permissible in the case of failed contraception but I am saying that there are key differences in intent and rational capacities between a malicious burglar and an unknowing fetus that weaken this analogy. Thomson also says that a burglar who breaks in should not have a right to stay in your house. While this is true, there are very few cases where a burglar will stay in your house if there intent is to steal something and get away. Staying in the house would be irrational if they want to get away with the crime. While a burglar can come and go, a fetus cannot since it needs the mother to survive. To kick a burglar out or call the police on them if they are dumb enough to stay inside of your house only results in them maybe being homeless or getting arrested. If a mother wants an abortion then the fetus will die. Kicking someone out of your house who has no right to be there is not comparable to killing someone who really has no choice in the matter.

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