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In discussing abortion, I've been told that the woman has a right to bodily integrity. Therefore she has the right to withdraw consent at any time to the fetus using her body, regardless of the situation of the conception (consensual sex, planned conception). Some say any time prior to viability.

Is there a fully fledged philosophical argument along these lines? I'm aware of Judith Jarvis Thompson's thought experiment about the room and the people-seeds, but that didn't invoke the intuition in me, "yes, the seeds can be pulled up at any time."

Does the fetus have a competing right to bodily integrity?

January 10, 2013

Response from Thomas Pogge on January 11, 2013

In the same essay, Thomson also tells the story of the violinist newly connected to you: "You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own." In nine months the violinist will have recovered from his ailment and can then be safely unplugged from you. But if you unplug him much earlier, then he will surely die.

Does this do it? Do you have the intuition that it would be permissible for your to unplug right away?

Response from Stephen Maitzen on January 11, 2013
@Thomas Pogge: Thomson's violinist analogy doesn't address the questioner's puzzlement, because it doesn't support "the right to withdraw consent at any time to the fetus using her body, regardless of the situation of the conception (consensual sex, planned conception)." Thomson seems to recognize that it doesn't, so she eventually proposes the people-seeds analogy, the analogy the questioner found unpersuasive.


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