Write a short, objective summary about “A Defense of Abortion” by Judith Jarvis Thomson of 250-500 words which summarizes the main ideas being put forward by the author in this selection.


Reading Summaries should be a minimum of one page and a maximum of two pages long (250-500 words).
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When writing Reading Summaries, you may not quote the author without proper citations. In other words, if you use the exact words of the original author (copy-paste) you MUST do a proper citation. Similarly, if you use any other website (such as Wikipedia, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, etc.) you must cite the source. Failure to cite sources properly is in violation of the Zero Tolerance for Plagiarism Policy.A Defense of Abortion
Author(s): Judith Jarvis Thomson
Source: Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Autumn, 1971), pp. 47-66
Published by: Blackwell Publishing
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2265091
Accessed: 23/11/2009 04:24

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JUDITH JARVIS THOMSON A Defense of Abortion’

Most opposition to abortion relies on the premise that the fetus is a
human being, a person, from the moment of conception. The premise
is argued for, but, as I think, not well. Take, for example, the most
common argument. We are asked to notice that the development of
a human being from conception through birth into childhood is con-
tinuous; then it is said that to draw a line, to choose a point in this
development and say “before this point the thing is not a person, after
this point it is a person” is to make an arbitrary choice, a choice for
which in the nature of things no good reason can be given. It is con-
cluded that the fetus is, or anyway that we had better say it is, a per-
son from the moment of conception. But this conclusion does not fol-
low. Similar things might be said about the development of an acorn
into an oak tree, and it does not follow that acorns are oak trees, or
that we had better say they are. Arguments of this form are sometimes
called “slippery slope arguments”-the phrase is perhaps self-explana-
tory-and it is dismaying that opponents of abortion rely on them so
heavily and uncritically.

I am inclined to agree, however, that the prospects for “drawing a
line” in the development of the fetus look di

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