Lecture 4 notes

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3 Mar 2011
Lecture 4: Rights of the Mother, a
defence for abortion
January 20th, 2011
-rights of the fetus and what they amount to and the mothers rights
-intentional killing versus unintentional killing
-duty versus decency
1.Limits of rights of fetus
-cant make any exceptions for rape, threat to mothers life
rape- just because fetus is product of rape doesnt mean the fetus’ rights to life
have diminished
-cant change someones rights just be they are a product of rape
-circumstances of conception shouldnt matter
-if the fetus has rights to life, and if the fetus rights to life means you cant kill the
fetus, then the rights arent going to change just because the fets is a product of rape
threat to mothers life- fetus inadvertently threats mothers life, no the intention of
the fetus to threaten mothers life
-you cant make an exception in this case either (roman catholic view)
*depleting oxygen example- 2 people in a room with only enough oxygen for one
person to survive- each persons continued life is threatening the other- but that
doesnt justify either person turning around and strangling the other- a 3rd party
cant justifiably kill one of the people
-someone does pose a threat to your life but doesnt justify killing the other
-our intuitions are conflicting- abortion for rape and mothers threat to life are ok,
but we cant kill someone to survive
-Thomson: pregnancy involves property- mothers uterus is mothers property
-you have rights over your property that other people dont have unless you give
them rights to the property
-sooo what about the right to life...?
-we dont have a right to be kept alive no matter what it takes
-ie. We are not forced to donate kidney
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