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Abortion in the View of Marquis and Thomson

The morality of abortion is one of the most debated topics, and this is because of the Morality that touches on the legal, medicinal, religious, and moral aspects of society. The arguments against abortion are usually centered on the belief that a fetus is a human being and therefore has the right to Live. While the arguments against it are usually centered on the disabilities of the fetus in that it is unable to have feelings. Aside from that, arguments against abortion also argue that the woman has a right to her own body and should therefore be able to choose whether they keep the pregnancy or not. An example of a great philosopher against abortion is Marquis, who considers abortion wrong by centering his arguments on the wrongness of killing a fetus because it has the right to life and a future just like any other human being. However, Thomson Rejects the notion that a fetus has the right to life because if the fetus has the right to live in someone else’s body, then it means that it has more rights than the one carrying the pregnancy such that they would have no option but to keep the fetus till it is due even in life-threatening cases. This essay argues that Thomson’s view on abortion challenges the arguments made by Marquis and thus makes Marquis’s arguments unsuccessful.

Before Thomson questioned Marquis’ views on abortion, marquis’ arguments were considered one of the successful secular views against abortion. Marquis places his argument on the value of human life by arguing that all people have the right to life, making killing wrong. According to Marquis (1989), killing the fetus is wrong because the fetus is a potential human being. Therefore, he looks at the impact that murdering a fetus will have on its intended future as a human being. Marquis (1989) asserts that the loss of life is one of the most significant losses one can suffer. This argument strengthens Marquis’s arguments as he proves that the loss of the life of a fetus deprives a set of activities, projects, and experiences that it would have in its future. Therefore, Marquis argues that killing a fetus is wrong primarily because the killing inflicts a significant loss on the victim.

Marquis “(1989) further argues that the loss of life of the fetus should not be taken as less important because of the biological state of the fetus, but the effect of killing a fetus in its biological state is similar to killing a person because it also leads to the loss of experiences, activities, and enjoyment that would have been parts of the future life of the fetus. Marquis elaborate that the activities, project, and enjoyments mentioned are valuable for their sakes and are also meant to be valued by the fetus in the future. As the fetus ages, it can change and appreciate life’s experiences, activities, and enjoyments just like any other human being. Therefore Marquis’s arguments reveal that when a fetus is aborted, it deprives a future personal life that the fetus would have valued. Therefore Marquis concludes that when a fetus is killed, it is deprived of all its future value.

The underappreciated virtue in Marquis’ argument is that he fails to explain the person primarily wronged by a killing. Marqués vies well explains that the wrong of killing is not appreciated in terms of the brutalization of the killer or the loss of a friend of the victim or the family. However, the wrongs of a killing are explained by the wrongness done to the victim. This explains why the loss of the future is a powerful thing considered when a fetus loses its life. Marquis explains that killing imposes the misfortune of premature death on the fetus, and it is the misfortune where the wrongness stems from

The shortcoming of Marquis’ argument is that his arguments tend to downplay the pregnant woman’s value and point of view. The views of the wrongness of killing also mismatch the role of contraception and abstinence from sex. Aside from that, this argument also devalues the explanatory resources of the competing personhood theory while overstating its explanatory power. The objections showcase that something is amiss in Marquis’s arguments on abortion, especially regarding the vies that actual persons have future value. The expression future value is ambiguous in that it is unclear whether future value entails the ability of human beings to understand and enjoy the experience or whether it means that the fetuses will have a self-representative future of value because they can construct mental representations of their futures.

Judith Thomson challenges Marquis thought that a fetus has the right to life just like any other human being. Thomson believes Marquis’s arguments are insufficient and nowhere close to solving the abortion debate. Thomson (1971) asserts that even if it is assumed that a fetus is a human being from conception, Marquis’ argument fails to show that the fetus’s right to life is equally important or more important than the right of the mother to her own body and her right to life. Thomson, therefore argues against abortion tends to forget the perspective of the woman whose body is sued and whose right to life is risked in many circumstances during pregnancy.

Thomson feels like those against abortion usually place the value of the fetus to be higher than that of the mother. Thomson proves that it cannot be evident that a fetus has a future sufficiently like ours. She proves this via the expanding child analogy, where she explains that when a woman is trapped in a house with a child that is rapidly expanding, the child poses a significant risk of killing the mother, Thompson (1971) explains that a third party may refuse to intervene or is free to choose either the mother or the baby whoa re all innocent. However, the third party cannot stop such a mother from acting in self-defense. This showcase that the fetus lacks the right to a future equal to that of human beings, especially when their right creates risks to the mother.

I do not think that Marquis could respond to Thompson’s defense of abortion sufficiently because Thompsons’ defenses showcase the gaps in Marquis’ thinking. However, Marquis can attempt to defend himself by further elaborating o the wrongness of killing by showcasing that in the circumstance that the fetus poses a significant risk to the mother’s own life, a third party can intervene and save and save the life of the mother. Marquis can also further elaborate on the fact that fetuses have a right to a future and that killing them is not a lesser crime than killing another human. since Thomson’s views tend to show that the degree of wrongness associated with killing varies depending on the age where the fetus is put through the harshest punishments because they are young. Marquis’s aspects of the killing of the fetus should change to address the problem of equality where the right of the fetus outweighs the right of the mom and directly implies that contraceptives and abstinence as killing.

In conclusion, marquis’ arguments against abortion have been unsuccessful because it fails to account for woman’s rights. Therefore, Thompsons seeks to showcase that the fetus’s right should not be held higher than the mother’s right to life. This showcases a massive gap in Marquis’ vie, making his argument unsuccessful. In order to improve Marqus’s argument, we need to explain the “future like ours” argument. Moreover, explain why he considers killing wrong without admitting that contraceptives and abstinence are not killing when they also kill the future of the fetuses discussed in the essay. I think there are still a lot of grey areas when it comes to this topic, making it hard to draw a line between what is wrong and what is not. Even though Marquis and Thomsons agree that a fetus is a human being, some gaps still need to be addressed.


Marquis, D. (2012). “Why Abortion is Immoral. Readings in Health Care Ethics86, 213.

Thomson, J. J. (1971). Adefense of abortion. Philosophy and Public Affair1, 47-66. 3915%28197123%291%3A1%3C47%3AADOA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-G


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