Posts Tagged Judith Jarvis Thomson
Is it ever acceptable for one person to tell another person that their life is too problematic and ill timed that they need to no longer exist? A man sees a homeless person sitting by the doorstep of his apartment complex and can smell their odor each day he walks by. He gets to the point of not wanting to bring friends over or even live in the apartment because the odor is so strong. If he decided to kill the homeless person because they presented too many challenges to overcome living in that apartment, he would be a criminal and rightly seen as morally repugnant and legally culpable. Our country has clear laws regarding such actions. However if a woman chooses to be sexually active and chooses to have unprotected sex or uses contraception that fails resulting in pregnancy, she has the legal right to abort the child due to the inconvenience of having a baby and raising a child. The woman would be legally innocent but I have to ask if the act is any less morally repugnant?
The question of abortion is a moral question being argued in legal terms. The current legal battles are whether to reduce, limit, curtail, increase, expand, or strengthen the current legal parameters. The law currently allows abortion in all states so arguing it in legal terms is similar to searching for a reduced fare on a cruise liner that already sunk. We have given people the ability to kill on demand and allowed them to feel as if it is a women’s rights issue. The window is now open to extend this to euthanasia which looks like the next natural step. Slowing down the process legally won’t stop the problem. We need to be discussing the moral issue with people. The challenge for Christians is that if we convince people to act morally without given them Christ, we are effectively being cruel. With that said, we still need to be able to answer the moral question and be able to defend it viably.
The arguments for abortion early on focused greatly on the question of when does life begin. Is the fetus a human being or is it a parasite. This presented two major problems. The first is that the definition of parasite not only described the fetus but also most children and teens. There has never been a doubt that offspring act in a parasitical fashion until they reach a level of maturity. The science for determining if it is a human being however weighed more and more in the favor of Pro-Life. Evidence showed that fetuses reacted to pain, had brain patterns, heart beats, and even develop patterns of right or left handed behavior.
Ten to fifteen years ago the arguments started shifting to human rights and the human being status of the fetus began to be widely accepted. This brought on new questions. Does the baby have a legal right to life and does the state or anyone other than the mother have the ability to regulate what happens in the life of the mother? A famous argument was provided by Judith Jarvis Thomson regarding a virtuoso violinist with kidney failure. She posits the question that if you were kidnapped and attached to a machine that was allowing the violinist’s body to use your kidneys and were asked to stay there for 9 months to allow the violinist to heal, would you consider that a violation of your rights? If you were given the option to voluntarily disconnect knowing that would kill the violinist, would you? The problem with this argument and those like it is that a person being kidnapped is a victim whose rights are clearly being violated. A woman choosing to have sex is never a victim and is expressing her rights over her own body by having sex. The only circumstance were this analogy becomes valid is if the woman was a victim of rape. The cases of rape resulting in pregnancy were less than 1% according to several studies over the last several years. This statistic has been disputed in the same manner of all statistics. If the test population is not wide enough, it will not accurately support the results. Whereas these concerns hold some validity, even if the percentage was as high as 5%, that would still mean that over a million abortions were performed each year that were corrective actions to regretted choices. I honestly feel that if the only abortions performed were due to rape, the abortion debate would be over.
The real concern is the moral choice to end a life based upon convenience. If two people choose consensually to engage in sex, are they not responsible for their choices? How is it moral to give them a way out of that responsibility by mere virtue of it causing them difficulty in the future? How is it morally acceptable to end a life for convenience? Over 50 million babies have been killed over the last 40 years in the United States alone. How can this be morally acceptable to our society so that people can escape the responsibility of a bad choice? The arguments for abortion rob humanity of its soul. How can we ever consider ourselves moral, if we allow atrocity to be engaged in freely without speaking up? I do not think the law will ever change; how much it is utilized by people can. Lobbying to change the laws will not change the hearts of people that are willing to make an immoral choice. The problem isn’t going to be solved in the rhetoric, it will need a savior. The question Christians need to ask themselves is whether or not that is the message they present. Are we betraying Christ’s grace by blaming the people rather than providing the gospel in a way they can hear it? If our message to people having abortions is filled with words that attack the person and not the problem, I think maybe we are. If people are acting in an immoral way, they do so because that is what they know. It is up to us to teach them something different through love. Christ’s commission to us was to spread the gospel throughout the world. That did not mean to just deliver the package and leave. It meant to explain the gospel in a way it can be understood. If we want this problem to get better, we need to be better at doing that.