Is Abortion Wrong?. Is Abortion Wrong?. III. III. Baruch Brody: “Thomson on Abortion”. Brody’s Project. Brody argues that, given Thomson’s presumption that the squidge has a full right to life, her argument that abortion may be justified fails. Recall Thomson’s Argument:.
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Is Abortion Wrong?
(See Slide #6 from last class.)
Suppose a woman has become pregnant, but learns she has a heart condition such that she will die if she carries the squidge to term.
Brody argues that there are much easier ways to defeat premise (2):
It is always wrong to take (directly) the life of an innocent human being.
In a normal case of self-defense, three factors seem to be involved:
Indeed, it seems that all three factors must be involved if X isjustified in taking Y’s life in self-defense:
But, it seems, if (a) and (b), but not (c), are satisfied, X has the right to take Y’s life in self-defense.
If Z threatens to kill X unless X kills Y, then Y’s continued existence poses a threat to X’s life.
Since the squidge is not attempting to take the mother’s life:
As Thomson points out, in abortion cases, we are dealing with only two individuals (presumably each with an equal right to life). Both are innocent, but one threatens the life of the other. We feel that the one threatened can justly kill the other.
In the lifeboat case, both X and Y have an equal right to use the lifeboat. But in an abortion case, the woman’s body is hers, and not the squidge’s, and she has the primary right to use it.
The woman’s primary rights to her body are not relevant to abortion cases:
There is at least one case in which, even if it is true that the squidge has a full right to life, the woman has the right to secure an abortion:
It is permissible for Y to take X’s life in order to save hisown life if:
In such a case, there is everything to gain by Y’s taking X’s life and nothing to lose:
This is not a principle of self-defense – X is in no way attempting to take Y’s life, and is doing no action that leads to Y’s death.
An abortion would be justified if:
This argument makes no appeal to any special fact about the squidge, the woman, or their relationship. It depends solely upon a general principle about the taking of some human lives to save other.