Refuting Judith Jarvis Thomson's "A Defense of Abortion" (Part 8)

(I apologize for the missed posts. My school kind of took over last week. And I actually didn't realize I'd skipped two posts when I got on today - I had it in my head for some reason that I'd only missed one. In the future, if I don't post, you may assume it's because school is taking up all of my time.)

Judith Jarvis Thomson

Click here to read part 1.
Click here to read part 2.
Click here to read part 3.
Click here to read part 4.
Click here to read part 5.
Click here to read part 6.
Click here to read part 7.

This is the continuation of my dissection of the "ultimate pro-abortion argument". If we can prove this argument wrong, we can prove any pro-abortion argument wrong. This series will probably have roughly nine parts to it, because it is naturally divided up into sections. My comments are (in parentheses and underlined).

In this section, Mrs. Thomson is continuing to attempt to redefine morality so she can get rid of morality and justify abortion.This in itself is a great indicator that her overall argument of absolute bodily autonomy (covered in previous sections) is bogus, because if it were true, she would have no need to try to erase our morality. It would already, morally, make sense. This section, specifically, tries to dispose of personal responsibility.

Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of Abortion

From Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 1, no. 1 (Fall 1971).

(Reprinted in "Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Medical Ethics," 5th ed., ed. Ronald Munson (Belmont; Wadsworth 1996). pp 69-80



Following the lead of the opponents of abortion, I have throughout been speaking of the fetus merely as a person, and what I have been asking is whether or not the argument we began with, which proceeds only from the fetus's being a person, really does establish its conclusion. I have argued that it does not. (You haven’t proved anything because you’re assuming that people have an absolute right to bodily autonomy, which we do not, so the argument that abortion should be illegal because the fetus is a person still stands. But whatever.)

But of course there are arguments and arguments, and it may be said that I have simply fastened on the wrong one. It may be said that what is important is not merely the fact that the fetus is a person, but that it is a person for whom the woman has a special kind of responsibility issuing from the fact that she is its mother. (This is true.) And it might be argued that all my analogies are therefore irrelevant--for you do not have that special kind of responsibility for that violinist; Henry Fonda does not have that special kind of responsibility for me. (This is also true.) And our attention might be drawn to the fact that men and women both are compelled by law to provide support for their children. (Indeed they are.)

I have in effect dealt (briefly) with this argument in section 4 above; but a (still briefer) recapitulation now may be in order. Surely we do not have any such "special responsibility" for a person unless we have assumed it, explicitly or implicitly. If a set of parents do not try to prevent pregnancy, do not obtain an abortion, but rather take it home with them, then they have assumed responsibility for it, they have given it rights, and they cannot now withdraw support from it at the cost of its life because they now find it difficult to go on providing for it. (No, they took responsibility for the child when they risked bringing the child into existence.) But if they have taken all reasonable precautions against having a child, they do not simply by virtue of their biological relationship to the child who comes into existence have a special responsibility for it. (Yes they do.)They may wish to assume responsibility for it, or they may not wish to. (It doesn’t matter what they “wish” to do. You may “wish” to leave your infant in the woods so that she dies if you wanted an abortion but were not able to get one, but the law does not care what you “wish” to do. It never matters what you “wish” to do; we’re talking about right and wrong.) And I am suggesting that if assuming responsibility for it would require large sacrifices, then they may refuse. A Good Samaritan would not refuse--or anyway, a Splendid Samaritan, if the sacrifices that had to be made were enormous. But then so would a Good Samaritan assume responsibility for that violinist; so would Henry Fonda, if he is a Good Samaritan, fly in from the West Coast and assume responsibility for me. (You did not bring the violinist into existence, Henry Fonda did not bring you into existence, and you and Henry Fonda are not directly responsible for the intentional killing of your own offspring.

The hard truth, Mrs. Thomson, is that the world doesn't let us choose our own responsibilities. Some responsibilities are more or less optional, like taking the responsibility to turn in schoolwork assignments on time, but we can't pick and choose all of our responsibilities. It doesn't work like that. You can't say, "Well, I didn't ever take responsibility for this girl's well-being, so there's no reason I can't rape her." Similarly, you can't say, "Well, I never took responsibility for this baby (either 'because I was raped' or 'because I didn't mean to get pregnant' will do here), therefore there's no reason I can't kill her." Like it or not, the stability of the world depends on morals, including responsibility.)

Feminists Are Evil

Okay, not really. But there is more than one thing that really irks me about feminism. Or, actually, not "real" feminism. But this other weird religion-like blame-game-thing that people have assaigned to the name of "feminism" and then kicked "real" feminism (which can no longer be called feminism because "feminists" stole the name) out the door.

Confused yet? Sorry. I'll back up.

Would it surprise you if I told you I was a feminist? What pops into your head when you hear the word "feminist"? Most likely a pro-abortion pro-welfare anti-death-penalty pro-Obama leftist. If that isn't what popped into your head, PLEASE hold onto your own idea of a feminist. You are a jewel.

Feminism used to be a truly pro-woman movement. I would have loved to live in the time period where women were fighting for suffrage and the like--I betcha I would've been marching alongside them all. I believe with all my heart that women should be given equal opportunities and not discriminated against because of their gender.

But that's no longer what the feminist movement is about. You remember this poster?

Well, it's no longer about "We Can Do It". The feminism machine has turned into a roaring monster. It's turned from "We Can Do It" to "You'd Better Help Us Do It Or Else".

Oh please.

Take maternity leave, for example. You know, the few weeks off your bosses can give you when you give birth. I'm not sure if there are laws that require employers to give women maternity leave, but I do know that feminists are fighting for them. And they don't want discrimination against women? It's perfectly valid to not want to hire a woman if she plans on getting married and having kids soon. It makes sense. It isn't discriminating against women. It's a legitimate business concern. This is called C-A-P-I-T-A-L-I-S-M. You don't always want to hire people who will need extra time off because they're busy having babies. All I ask is that women aren't discriminated against...because they're women. Not because of nature. If the employers hire women and give them maternity leave, fine. But don't force them to.

And abortion. Is there a more insulting law in existence? People will call me anti-women because I hate abortion (which can't possibly make sense unless I have really low self-esteem as to hate my own gender) , but they are the anti-women people. In order for women to "succeed in the world" they have to be allowed to kill their own children?


Feminists are now the anti-women people. How ironic.

Besides, who decided that "succeeding in the world" means you have to have a career? There's nothing wrong with just getting married and having kids and being a stay-at-home mom, but somehow feminists have managed to twist motherhood into something less than a career. It's not.

I want equality, people. Not special benefits. That's called sexism. Only this time it's directed at men. Especially if they're white.


Many women get abortions, not because they have a choice, but because they feel like they have no choice. So it's a rarity when stories like this one come up.

A fourteen-year-old girl from Texas is pregnant. And she wants to have her baby. Her parents do not.

This girl has been all over the pro-life news lately because her parents are trying to force her to get an abortion. Luckily, she sued them, and the court has given her parents a temporary restraining order. There will be a hearing this Thursday, January 19, to decide whether her parents can force her to have the abortion or not. You can see the details here.

Apparently, the parents say that the girl is mentally unable to make the decision in her best interests. Her family in fact was so concerned about her welfare that they physically assaulted her to try to make her get the abortion. (Yes, this is me being sarcastic.)

First-off, I want to say kudos to the true pro-choicers out there who are horrified about this. Good for you, and thank you!

But that being said, where is all the pro-"choice" concern? You can bet that if parents were trying to force this same 14-year-old to not have an abortion that horror and anger would explode all over the internet and pro-abortion blogs.

But where are they? Why the silence? If they were truly concerned only about choice (and not "choose abortion"), they would lobby for this girl as perfectly capable of deciding "whether or not to have a child" (of course, she already has a child, but I digress). They fight so adamently against parental consent laws for abortion, why aren't they furious about this parental concent for having a baby? Not even necessarily *keeping* the baby, but just allowing the child to LIVE? Why?

The nauseating magazine "Jezebel" (yes, I think it is named after the Biblical Jezebel), which is self-described as "gossip, culture, fashion, and sex for the contemporary woman" (aka, leftist feminist and pro-abortion) wrote an article on this, but instead of focusing on the girl, it mostly talked about how pro-life groups were using this particular story to make "pro-choicers look like hypocrites".
"Why would this narrative be so appealing to an anti-choice group? Because it makes pro-choicers look like hypocrites."
Yep. We are, Jezebel, and you just proved our point. You showed no concern for this girl. You talked about her plight, and then complained about the pro-lifers...not the people who are infringing on this girl's "right to choose".
"Continuing her pregnancy may well be what the girl wants, but it's a little disturbing that the TCDL's narrative is the only one out there. Her family doesn't have legal representation, so it's been difficult to get their point of view."
Yeah. I'm sure this girl would go through the trouble of suing her own family just for kicks.
"As of now, I've been unable to confirm from any outside source that the girl's family is actually trying to force her to have an abortion — the only source for this story is the TCDL, which has an obvious vested interest in painting itself as the defender of a mother and her baby against an abortion-hungry family."
Thanks, Jezebel, for your touching concern.

One more thing.
"Really, no responsible pro-choicer should support a family's right to force a teenager to get an abortion. It might not be especially comfortable to think about a 14-year-old making a decision that will affect the rest of her life...But taking that decision away from her is way more upsetting..."
Which do you think would be more upsetting: carrying a baby unwillingly to term, perhaps with shame, some health problems, and some angry family members, or a forced abortion which leaves you with the haunting trauma of having murdered your child (whether or not the fetus is a "child" or not isn't the debate here--to the woman who was forced into the abortion, that child was her child.)

I'm sorry if this post is a little sarcasm-heavy, but I'm so infuriated about the complete dismissal of this girl's situation in the pro-abortion camp that I can't bear to write a calm, logical, "you're wrong" post like I normally try for.

Please pray for this girl and for all the girls out there who think they have no choice.

Images found via Google Images. No copyright infringement intended.

Refuting Judith Jarvis Thomson's "A Defense of Abortion" (Part 7)

Judith Jarvis Thomson

Click here to read part 1.
Click here to read part 2.
Click here to read part 3.
Click here to read part 4.
Click here to read part 5.
Click here to read part 6.

This is the continuation of my dissection of the "ultimate pro-abortion argument". If we can prove this argument wrong, we can prove any pro-abortion argument wrong. This series will probably have roughly nine parts to it, because it is naturally divided up into sections. My comments are (in parentheses and underlined).

This section is, put lightly, sickening. Mrs. Thomson is attempting to redefine morality, therefore get rid of our sense of morality, therefore justify abortion. This in itself is a great indicator that her overall argument of absolute bodily autonomy (covered in previous sections) is bogus, because if it were true, she would have no need to try to erase our morality. It would already, morally, make sense.

Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of Abortion

From Philosophy & Public Affairs, Vol. 1, no. 1 (Fall 1971).

(Reprinted in "Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Medical Ethics," 5th ed., ed. Ronald Munson (Belmont; Wadsworth 1996). pp 69-80



We have in fact to distinguish between two kinds of Samaritan: the Good Samaritan and what we might call the Minimally Decent Samaritan. The story of the Good Samaritan, you will remember, goes like this (It makes my blood boil when people use the Bible when arguing for abortion. But I digress.):

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was, and when he saw him he had compassion on him.

And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

And on the morrow, when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, "Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee." (Luke 10:30-35)

The Good Samaritan went out of his way, at some cost to himself, to help one in need of it. We are not told what the options were, that is, whether or not the priest and the Levite could have helped by doing less than the Good Samaritan did, but assuming they could have, then the fact they did nothing at all shows they were not even Minimally Decent Samaritans, not because they were not Samaritans, but because they were not even minimally decent.

These things are a matter of degree, of course, but there is a difference, and it comes out perhaps most clearly in the story of Kitty Genovese, who, as you will remember, was murdered while thirty-eight people watched or listened, and did nothing at all to help her. A Good Samaritan would have rushed out to give direct assistance against the murderer. Or perhaps we had better allow that it would have been a Splendid Samaritan who did this, on the ground that it would have involved a risk of death for himself. But the thirty-eight not only did not do this, they did not even trouble to pick up a phone to call the police. Minimally Decent Samaritanism would call for doing at least that, and their not having done it was monstrous.

After telling the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus said, "Go, and do thou likewise." Perhaps he meant that we are morally required to act as the Good Samaritan did. Perhaps he was urging people to do more than is morally required of them. At all events it seems plain that it was not morally required of any of the thirty-eight that he rush out to give direct assistance at the risk of his own life, and that it is not morally required of anyone that he give long stretches of his life--nine years or nine months--to sustaining the life of a person who has no special right (we were leaving open the possibility of this) to demand it. (So you are suggesting that you don’t do anything wrong if you just stand there and watch someone be stabbed to death? There’s a difference between legally required and morally required, lady!)

Indeed, with one rather striking class of exceptions, no one in any country in the world is legally required to do anywhere near as much as this for anyone else. The class of exceptions is obvious. My main concern here is not the state of the law in respect to abortion, but it is worth drawing attention to the fact that in no state in this country is any man compelled by law to be even a Minimally Recent Samaritan to any person; there is no law under which charges could be brought against the thirty eight who stood by while Kitty Genovese died. By contrast, in most states in this country women are compelled by law to be not merely Minimally Decent Samaritans, but Good Samaritans to unborn persons inside them. (There’s a difference between  deliberately murdering someone and standing by and letting someone be murdered…as is obvious from the fact that the murderer was prosecuted but the onlookers were not.) This doesn't by itself settle anything one way or the other, because it may well be argued that there should be laws in this country as there are in many European countries--compelling at least Minimally Decent Samaritanism. But it does show that there is a gross injustice in the existing state of the law. And it shows also that the groups currently working against liberalization of abortion laws, in fact working toward having it declared unconstitutional for a state to permit abortion, had better start working for the adoption of Good Samaritan laws generally, or earn the charge that they are acting in bad faith.

I should think, myself, that Minimally Decent Samaritan laws would be one thing, Good Samaritan laws quite another, and in fact highly improper. But we are not here concerned with the law. What we should ask is not whether anybody should be compelled by law to be a Good Samaritan, but whether we must accede to a situation in which somebody is being compelled--by nature, perhaps--to be a Good Samaritan. We have, in other words, to look now at third-party interventions. I have been arguing that no person is morally required to make large sacrifices to sustain the life of another who has no right to demand them, and this even where the sacrifices do not include life itself; we are not morally required to be Good Samaritans or anyway Very Good Samaritans to one another. (Morally, yes, we are.) But what if a man cannot extricate himself from such a situation? What if he appeals to us to extricate him? It seems to me plain that there are cases in which we can, cases in which a Good Samaritan would extricate him. There you are, you were kidnapped, and nine years in bed with that violinist lie ahead of you. You have your own life to lead. You are sorry, but you simply cannot see giving up so much of your life to the sustaining of his. You cannot extricate yourself, and ask us to do so. I should have thought that--in light of his having no right to the use of your body--it was obvious that we do not have to accede to your being forced to give up so much. We can do what you ask. There is no injustice to the violinist in our doing so. (Certainly not as much injustice as done to the unborn child, as we’ve already established, since the parallels between the hypothetical violinist situation and the real woman-child situation do not line up.)

It's About to Get Real

I just sent in a volunteer application to my local crisis pregnancy center. This makes me a little giddy. I have never volunteered at a CPC before, but I have wanted to for several years. At the same time, it's a little surreal.

I hear about abortion from blogs, websites, news stories, books, testimonies, pro-life booths at fairs and conferences, talks, fundraising events, YouTube, Life Chain,and once a Bound 4 Life protest. But I've never really...encountered it. Not for real. I haven't seen any "major" protests; none of the really big, hundreds-of-people marches, not even a protest standing outside an abortion clinic. I haven't met any obviously post-abortive women or abortion workers (though, considering about 1 out of 3 women get abortions, I've probably met several). What's it going to be like, working in a place that deals with abortion so closely? A place that is saving lives? The closest brush I've had with abortion happened like this:

I was going to participate in my first Life Chain. At this particular Life Chain, there was also going to be a diaper drive. Come to the Life Chain, drop off diapers, and stand for an hour or so with a sign. When I got to the Life Chain, there was a small pro-abortion group doing a counter-protest on a corner, along with their own personal food drive to give to the charity group Harvesters. Their idea was "let's go take a stand for women and do some REAL good by getting food for REAL people". (Yes, they were complaining about our diaper drive. Uh...yeah. I couldn't make it make sense either.) That was the idea. Now, I like Harvesters, and I played with the idea of walking over with my pro-life sign and giving them some. I ended up just donating food to my then-local crisis pregnancy center instead. 

Anyway. Before the Life Chain, I took some money and drove to Wal-Mart (it was my first solo drive :)) to buy a bunch of diapers. In line at the cash register, the following conversation ensued:

Cash register lady: Wow, what are you doing with all these diapers?
Me: *explain*
CRL: *few seconds of silence* *good-naturedly* I hate you, by the way.
Me: *laugh* Uh...okay...that's fine with me.

CRL: *still good-naturedly* 'Cause, I don't know if you have kids or not, but they're expensive. I have three.
Me: Um, yeah, that's why I'm buying the diapers...? I'm [my age], actually, and I have seven siblings, so yeah.
CRL: Well, get married and don't have kids! *laugh*
Me: Awww, but I like kids!
CRL: Well, adoption, then.
Me: I've thought about that, actually. I think I'd like to adopt. But we'll see.
CRL: *weird semi-long monologue about how her kids like her to pretend she adopted them* *finish check-out* Have a nice day!
Me: You too!

Yes, that was interesting. Looking back, I would have said some things differently, but considering I wasn't really expecting that, I think I did okay. But I really don't know what to expect going into the battle zone like this. It may be very anti-climatic since I doubt I'll get a very exciting job, but who knows. Thank God for sidewalk counselors, CPCs, pro-life lawmakers, Abort73,, Tim Tebow, Justin Bieber, and the rest.

Soon, I hope this is me:

*Images found via Google Images. No copyright infringement intended.

Unborn Angels

I'm normally not a fan of rap. In my opinion, it hardly counts as music, with a very few exceptions ("Jesus Freak" by dc Talk being one of them). However, I came across this song the other day. Is it great music? No, probably not, technically speaking. But the lyrics were what got me (that, and the beautiful piano).

It reminded me how desperately prayer is needed for everybody dealing with abortion. Abortion, by now, hurts every single person in the world, and they may not even know it.

We need to pray for the abortionists and abortion workers, that they can be touched, and realize how wrong abortion is. They live in such darkness. The ones there that truly care about women need their eyes to open so they can see that they're hurting these women, and so they can see how to truly help them.

We need to pray for the pro-life activists, so they can stay emotionally strong.

We need to pray for politicians, that they will pass laws against abortion.

We need to pray for all the brother-and-sister-less people in the world, whose siblings have been aborted.

We need to pray for all the friend-less people in the world, whose best friends have been aborted.

We need to pray for all the men and women, whose spouses have been aborted.

We need to pray the countries and causes whose leaders have been aborted.

We need to pray for the fathers whose children have been aborted.

We need to pray for the mothers whose children have been aborted.

We need to pray for the children, asking God to send his guardian angels to comfort them as they are being aborted.

Image found via Google Images. Video from YouTube. No copyright infringement intended.

Life, Plants, and the Death Penalty

Can they both be pro-life?

There's a debate going on in the pro-life community about what it really means to be pro-life. Much of the time, it's much fiercer than I wish it was. Some people are absolutely convinced that you have no right to claim to be pro-life if you eat animals and are for executing people. Well, I eat animals, and I am pro-death-penalty. I hope that everybody can see that we should still be able to work together to stop abortion, whether or not we have different views on the definition of pro-life--abortion is an obvious evil that needs to stop.

That being said, I decided to write about how you can be pro-life and still be for animal and criminal deaths. (Pro-abortion vegans--of which, I think, there are many--make no sense.)

I'll start with veganism. People are vegetarians for many different reasons; some believe it is healthier and/or more economical,  some believe in not killing any form of animal life if they can help it, some believe that the conditions that animals are raised to slaughter are deplorable enough that it is immoral to eat such meat, thus condoning those conditions and practices. Honestly, I have not looked into these matters much, though I know deplorable slaughterhouses do exist, and animals do have feelings and fears. I'm not for animal cruelty. God gave us this Earth and commanded us to take care of it. I'm not against animal deaths, though, because...they're animals. In an ideal situation, any animals killed would be killed humanely. However, I don't want to lose sight of the people in the world by focusing too much on animals (not using it in the biological sense, since biologically humans are animals too). Sure, let's take care of the Earth and its animal inhabitants, but let's not worship it. Our focus needs to be on humans. Is veganism the most humane/healthy/economical choice? Maybe it is. I'm open to that. But it isn't my focus in life right now.

Now, the death penalty. I believe the two main arguments against the death penalty are as follows: 1) too many innocent people are killed. 2) It's up to God to take life, and we as human beings shouldn't do it.

The first argument is debatable. I tried looking it up once and got so confused I just stopped. It's amazing how different the statistics are depending on whether the website is pro-death-penalty or not. All I know is that it's true that innocent people have been killed. I also know that science has progressed so much, the likelihood of someone being wrongly convicted keeps dropping significantly.

As for the second reason...I recently saw a bumper sticker ('cause we all know bumper stickers never lie) that said something to the effect of "It's God's job to judge terrorists. It's the military's job to arrange the meeting". While I don't quite agree with the message that this implies, it makes a very good point. We have the right to defend ourselves. The death penalty, like war, should be used sparingly and as a last resort, but freely. God commands us to turn the other cheek, but he also told David when to go to war, outlined how to give out death penalties, and I'm not going to hesitate to use the self-defense methods I know (which, I hope, will someday include a gun. Muahaha.) if some man tries to rape me. The Constitution grants everybody a right to life. But if somebody forfeits that right to life, either by killing or some other horrendous crime, then they forfeit that right to life, with full knowledge that they were forfeiting it. Criminals know that the death penalty exists. If they want to risk being executed, that's their concern. I'm not going to let them off the hook.

I am not condoning violence against abortion workers by saying this. There is a difference between the death penalty--which has been given, hopefully, by due process of law--and going out and shooting somebody who was not breaking the law (even if that law is wrong) because you think what they're doing is wrong. Even if it wasn't morally wrong, it would be (and is) counter-productive. The death penalty, like war, should be used as a last resort. We can still win this war against abortion. We are winning this war against abortion. Pro-abortioners don't have a leg to stand on. We can stop violence without using violence.