Laurence Thomas has posted his comments on Judith Jarvis Thomson's famous paper "A Defense of Abortion". His thoughts on this paper have strongly influenced how I think about the issue. The first of the two main arguments of her paper is often taken to show far more than it does indeed show, and he makes this clear. He also raises questions about the second argument, the one that tries to move her conclusion into something closer to the standard pro-choice view, though still falling a good deal short of it, even if the argument is successful, which his criticism raises doubts about. His post is a good summary of her paper in addition to raising some questions about her arguments. This paper is anthologized more than any other on the issue of abortion, to the point where I think it's morally unconscionable to have an abortion section in an applied ethics anthology while excluding her paper. No other paper has that status on this issue.
In the process of interacting in the comments on the post he links to at the end of that one, I came across a brilliant essay by Frederica Mathewes-Green called Seeking Abortion's Middle Ground. It's not about finding a middle position between pro-life and pro-choice. Mathewes-Green is firmly pro-life, though she was pro-choice in her younger days and understands both sides very well. The way it's middle ground is that it insists on understanding the pro-choice position and what pro-choice people really believe, something pro-life people often won't bother to do and thus misrepresent the opposition. I've been spending enough time pointing out how pro-choice people do that to pro-life people that it's fitting that I'm now pointing out someone who is doing the other. What's most fascinating about this is essay is that Mathewes-Green spends so much time acknowledging things that the pro-choice side would insist on that her pro-life stance comes out seeming much more understandable even on pro-choice terms. She presents a number of considerations in favor of her pro-life position, most of them completely independent of standard ones, all of them from an awareness of what pro-choice people consider to be the primary motivation for wanting abortion to be legal. I think I'm going to have to add this to my required reading list for abortion for my ethics classes. I'm intrigued about what her books on abortion and gender and feminism are like. I'm seriously considering getting them to see if they would be a good part of a course on outside-the-box approaches to race, gender, and sexuality that I hope to be teaching in the spring if the powers that be are willing to assign me the courses I'd like to teach next semester.