Thread: Buddha-Dhamma and Abortion

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    Forums Member clw_uk's Avatar
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    Buddha-Dhamma and Abortion

    As practioners of the Dhamma should we be against abortion, or not? Obviously this is a complicated topic. It seems to me there are a few choices available here:

    1) Morally against abortion and anti-choice
    2) Morally against abortion and pro-choice
    3) Morally ok with abortion and pro-choice
    4) Morally ok with abortion until a certain number of weeks, pro-choice.

    Myself, I think abortion is morally ok up until the start of the 3rd trimester. Then I feel it is immoral. So, I am morally ok with abortion up until the 3rd trimester and am pro-choice, but after the 3rd trimester I am against abortion and anti-choice.

    Where do you stand?

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    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    I doubt holding fixed views is wise or beneficial. For example, due to whatever he loves, Bhikkhu Bodhi recently wrote in support of what many construed to be abortion, which resulted in him being rebuked by many Buddhists. Bhikkhu Bodhi tried to deny he approved of abortion with hypocritical double-speak but this only resulted in a greater reduction of respect towards him by his critics. BB wrote the following:

    Original post by BB: Trumpís presidential campaign challenged each of the ethical ideals I cherish, and if he acts upon his campaign pledges, his policies may entail misery for people in the United States and all across the world. His campaign repeatedly demeaned people because of their ethnicity, religion, and national origins. He threatened to deny women their reproductive rights....

    Defence of BB: Although as a Buddhist I am personally opposed to abortion and would advise a woman who sought my counsel against obtaining one, I believe that the question of whether abortion should be legal is a political matter that should be left to the organs of government to determine. Those who oppose abortion on religious grounds should not be entitled to use government policy to impose the entailments of their beliefs on others.

    https://buddhistglobalrelief.me/2016...the-end-times/
    The Buddha taught intention is kamma. If a woman has an abortion for a very justified reason for herself, then the woman will not suffer over her kamma (action). But if her reason or intention is trivial & harsh, the woman may suffer later from regret (which is rebirth in hell) or become a hardhearted, merciless & callous person (which is rebirth in the animal kingdom).

    For example, recently a lady asked a question on another forum I post on, whose mind was overwhelmed with unwarranted paranoia due to an abortion:
    3 years back i had to face with a relationship problem with my ex boy friend and at that time i was pregnant. I had to abort my child at that time as a result of those problems. Now i am married for 10 months and got pregnant 5 Months back. i was okay till to 25th week of my pregnancy then i got to know that my child's Heartbeat has stopped and he is no more live. This was unexpected and we cannot bear this pain. I had that fear whether that bad karma of previous abortion will be affect to this time.But according to the doctor everything was okay until baby's 25th week. We are suffering lot with this and have a fear that i will have to face the same situation in the future as well. I love kids so much. But once i had to done such a horrible thing due to the horrible situation with my ex. Please advice me how can i prevent from this bad karma and what should i do to survive from this.
    Abortion is obviously different from many types of killing because most forms of killing are done with violence where as many women have abortions because they sense they cannot be good mothers due to having unsuitable circumstances. I had a friend who counselled women pre-abortion and she said to me most women/girls that have abortions have little social & financial support and feel desperate.

    I think for Buddhists to hold fixed views on this question is irrelevant because practicing Buddhists should not need to have abortions & because Buddhists will not change very much in the world in respect to abortion. Instead, I think Buddhists should be prepared to offer forgiveness to women & encouragement to heedfulness.

    I think we should not use abortion as an agenda to support our other views about freedom in other areas of life.

    The Buddha did not promote human choice. Instead, the Buddha encouraged living according to the Dhamma; submitting oneself to the Dhamma.


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    Forums Member Element's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clw_uk View Post
    As practioners of the Dhamma should we be against abortion, or not? Obviously this is a complicated topic. It seems to me there are a few choices available here:
    Where in the suttas did the Buddha promote the idea of 'personal choice'?

    1) Morally against abortion and anti-choice
    Buddhism discourages killing, be it by oneself or by others.

    2) Morally against abortion and pro-choice
    Buddhism does not encourage one path for oneself & another path for others. When others do not practice Dhamma, Buddhism teaches to cultivate equanimity rather than, like Bhikkhu Bodhi, to engage in idiot compassion & become a cheer-leader for other people's folly & secular social values (like the wealthy East & West Coast liberals that probably give big donations to Western Buddhism).

    3) Morally ok with abortion and pro-choice
    This is obviously not possible for a Buddhist.

    4) Morally ok with abortion until a certain number of weeks, pro-choice.
    This is obviously not possible for a Buddhist. A Buddhist, such as Ajahn Brahm may, out of compassion, attempt to reduce remorse by making early stage pregnancy sound less severe than later stage pregnancy, which is something true based on natural perception. Once a woman starts to perceive little arms & legs, this will naturally be more remorseful than a mere zygote or embyro, which is perceived a mere collection of cells. Regardless, I think your questions remain non-sequitur because in Buddhism I think we don't say abortion is ever "morally OK". We can have compassion, we can try to alleviate a woman's regret, we can offer sincere empathy & understanding, but, imo, simply saying it is "OK" and "a choice" is negligent.

    Myself, I think abortion is morally ok up until the start of the 3rd trimester. Then I feel it is immoral. So, I am morally ok with abortion up until the 3rd trimester and am pro-choice, but after the 3rd trimester I am against abortion and anti-choice.
    I think it doesn't make much difference, unless you believe in reincarnation like Ajahn Brahm. It might make a difference perceptually, but as I stated, it is generally related to carelessness & generally leads to remorse or, otherwise, callousness. Buddhism teaches prevention & heedfulness rather than choice.

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    Without stating a position or interpretation myself, a quote from the Metta Sutta:

    Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
    May all beings be at ease.
    Whatever living beings there may be;
    Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
    The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
    The seen and the unseen,
    Those living near and far away,
    Those born and to-be-born ó
    May all beings be at ease!

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