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“A Defense of Abortion” by Judith Jarvis Thomson


The modern society is concerned about the increased number of abortions. Some people consider such medical interventions to be a murder, whereas other theorists promote the opposite point of view that seems to be unacceptable at first. The following paper will discuss and summarize the main aspects of the work “A defense of abortion” by Judith Jarvis Thomson.

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According to Thomson (1971), abortion is not killing as a human fetus is not a living person. She says that it is impossible to love a child that does not exist. Thomson (1971) does not think that a body that develops and grows inside of his or her future mother is a personality. Moreover, she compares a pregnant woman with a kidnapped individual connected to an ailing violinist. Perhaps, the author wanted to emphasize the fact that a fetus does not communicate with other people and that it just requires the extra attention of the child’s future family. However, Thomson (1971) argues that there is no moral difference between the actions of killing and letting a human being die. The only difference lies in the effort used by a murderer and the particular motives of an involved person. Also, the theorist thinks that it is better to kill a child that is not born yet than a mother who faces the risk of dying (Thomson, 1971). It would be proper to mention that Thomson (1971) says that the prevention of abortion implies the moral death of a parent, regardless of a woman’s health conditions.

The author of the article says that every woman has a right to keep a child as well as to make her life easier by undergoing a simple operation. Moreover, Thomson (1971) stresses that even if a potential mother wants to get pregnant at the moment of the physical act of love, she doesn’t need to give birth to a child. One of the main points presented in the article is that males are more responsible for their children, whereas females are used by their husbands or boyfriends to preserve the primary forms of biological lives. Thomson (1971) considers it irrational and states that women cannot be judged by society for doing an abortion if they do not want to have a child from a certain man. It is essential to remember that every person has a right to live, but people cannot use other individuals’ bodies as they wish. The only permissible method for a man to make his partner pregnant is only if she wants to become a mother of this person’s child.


The number of abortions increased significantly at the end of the previous century. The majority of people tried to prevent such incidents as they considered it to be amoral. Judith Jarvis Thomson has an opposite point of view. As a woman who is always at risk of being pregnant, she defends herself and other women by saying that abortion is an acceptable action (Thomson, 1971). She had to face much criticism from religious societies and other people who thought that abortion was a tremendous sin as it is murder.


The main point of the article by Thomson discussed above is that women are not obliged to give births to their children unwillingly. Every person has a legal and moral right to decide to keep a child or to make abortion as this operation is not considered to be a murder. Men should know that their children might die before birth if their female partners are pregnant against their will.


Thomson, J. J. (1971). A defense of abortion. Biomedical Ethics and the Law, 1(1), 57-72. Web.

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