Judith Jarvis Thomson (1929–2020)

Judith Jarvis Thomson was one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century. Her justly famous essay in defense of abortion rights is a model for how to combine philosophical rigor with political engagement in the real world.


A fan-favorite episode of NBC’s The Good Place is called “The Trolley Problem.” If you’ve watched it, or if you’re one of the quarter of a million people who follow the “Trolley problem memes” page on Facebook, you know at least a little bit about Judith Jarvis Thomson’s work — even if you’ve never heard her name.

The prehistory of this philosophical puzzle goes back to Philippa Foot. In an essay crammed with examples intended to illustrate the complexities of an obscure idea in moral philosophy called the “doctrine of double effect,” she introduces the “driver of a runaway tram which he can only steer from one track to another.” If he does nothing, he’ll kill five workers doing repairs on the track. If he steers onto an alternate track, he’ll only kill one. Foot thought it was obvious that “we should say, without hesitation, that the driver should steer for the unoccupied track.”

Continued: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/11/judith-jarvis-thompson-obituary-abortion-essay

British pro-life group propagates viral misinformation about New Zealand’s abortion laws

AFP New Zealand, Taylor Thompson Fuller
Published on Monday 30 November 2020

A video posted by a British pro-life group on Facebook that contains multiple misleading claims about New Zealand’s abortion laws has been viewed tens of thousands of times. The video includes a false suggestion that abortion in New Zealand is “available on-demand, for any reason, up to birth”. Similar claims were published in multiple other anti-abortion posts shared in the United States.

The video was published by Right To Life UK here on Facebook on October 14, where it has been viewed more than 120,000 times.

Continued: https://factcheck.afp.com/british-pro-life-group-propagates-viral-misinformation-about-new-zealands-abortion-laws

Jamaica’s Teen Mother Crisis Gets Government Attention.

By Jonathan Mason
November 30, 2020

KINGSTON, Jamaica–November 29th,2020–HIV/AIDS Officer at the United Nations Population Fund Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean, Dr. Denise Chevannes, is urging interested parties to focus on adolescent pregnancy prevention, as one of the social and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She noted that COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem of adolescent pregnancy and has left more girls susceptible to teenage pregnancy.

Continued: https://www.thestkittsnevisobserver.com/jamaicas-teen-mother-crisis-gets-government-attention/

Poland’s recent challenge on the road towards emancipation of women

Abortion has always been a topic of dispute regarding both women’s rights and a broader notion of human rights.

Monday, 30 November 2020
Sukran Unal

Various political, medical, religious or ethical
views on the topic have eventually led to the deepening of the controversy and
blocked the way to figure out a common solution across the world. Today, there
are also ongoing debates in the EU concerning the ethics and legitimacy of

The issue is attributed utmost importance not only by most of the EU Member
States, but also by the EU itself, as well as the candidate countries having to
comply with the acquis to realise their prospective EU membership aspirations.

Continued: https://www.brusselstimes.com/opinion/140805/an-eu-wide-debate-polands-recent-challenge-on-the-road-towards-emancipation-of-women/

Poland’s government creates constitutional crisis it will find hard to resolve

Malgorzata Tomczak, Warsaw
November 30, 2020

In the past, the problems of the country’s constitutional court were seen as complex and detached from people’s daily lives. Until now that is, when they started to impact on the most private and sensitive areas of Polish women’s lives.

With its recent legal attempt to put further limits on abortion, the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) has created a constitutional crisis that will be hard to resolve. And its reckless actions are already impacting on Polish women’s lives.

Continued: https://balkaninsight.com/2020/11/30/polands-government-creates-constitutional-crisis-it-will-find-hard-to-resolve/

Abortion in the Philippines: bill to decriminalise terminations would save women’s lives, its author says

Maro Enriquez
30 Nov, 2020

Filipino lawyer and human rights activist Clara Rita Padilla did not expect a photo she posted on Facebook in May would be so popular. In the picture, she looks sombre as she holds up a copy of a controversial proposed law she had drafted.

“Amid the Covid-19 havoc, here is the bill that I’m finalising to decriminalise abortion in the Philippines,” she wrote. “This bill, when passed into law, can save women’s lives.”

Continued: https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/family-relationships/article/3111885/abortion-philippines-bill-decriminalise-terminations

Silent majority’ of Poles favor strict abortion law

Anna Maria Jakubek, Agence France-Presse Warsaw
Sun, November 29, 2020

While mass protests against a court verdict backing a near-total ban on abortion have taken on an increasingly political flavor in Poland, the devout Catholic country is far from turning pro-choice.

Surveys show that Poles have grown comfortable with existing abortion legislation - among Europe's most restrictive - adopted in 1993 as part of a church-state compromise after the collapse of communism.

Continued: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/11/29/silent-majority-of-poles-favor-strict-abortion-law-.html

Argentina: Thousands march against abortion legalization bill

Thousands of anti-abortion activists have taken to the streets across the country to protest against a new bill to legalize abortion. The bill is backed by President Alberto Fernandez.


Thousands of people have held demonstrations across Argentina against a new government-backed bill to legalize abortion.

Protesters were seen taking to the streets on
Saturday with Argentine flags and sky-blue scarves which identify the anti-abortionists.
They also carried signs with slogans like "Save Both Lives!" and
"March for the Unborn."

Continued: https://www.dw.com/en/argentina-thousands-march-against-abortion-legalization-bill/a-55762380

Police block Warsaw march against abortion ruling, force use

Nov 28, 2020
By: Vanessa Gera, Canadian Press

WARSAW, Poland — Police blocked protesters from marching in Poland's capital as demonstrations took place across the country against an attempt to restrict abortion rights and recent police violence.

Police and protesters played a game of cat and mouse in Warsaw as officers set up cordons which the protesters sought to evade, pushing them to try to regroup elsewhere in the city centre.

Continued: https://www.rmotoday.com/world-news/police-block-warsaw-march-against-abortion-ruling-force-use-3135578

Abortion Options for Indian Women: Is the New MTP (Amendment) Bill, 2020 Better and Safer?

Deepika Singhania, MAKERS India
28 November 2020

Getting an abortion in India is not just about finding the right doctor who can perform the procedure in a safe manner and through legal methods, it’s also about dealing with the stigma and navigating the laws around it. Though we may be living in 2020, if an Indian woman seeks termination of pregnancy even today, she can not do so openly without judgment and people trying to change her mind.

Says 26-year-old Mithila (name changed), “When I got pregnant, my boyfriend and I couldn’t talk to our friends or family about it. So, we looked up a gynaecologist online. As expected, we got lectured about having sex before marriage and got asked the dreaded question – do your parents know?” The doctor refused to perform the termination and as luck would have it, they found a different doctor who turned out to be very supportive.

Continued: https://in.makers.yahoo.com/abortion-options-for-indian-women-is-the-new-mtp-amendment-bill-2020-better-and-safer-030017248.html