Buddhist Views on Abortion
About Buddhist Views on Abortion
There are various Buddhists views on abortion but this article takes a more comprehensive or global view of the issue in perspective. It is imperative to note that Buddha tried to avoid making rules and told Buddhist believers not to believe in other religious authority especially on trust. The emphasis on such Buddhist teachings is to test and investigate personal experiences of believers.
Understanding abortion and practice of Buddhism
Abortion is termination of a pregnancy.
Buddhism is generally considered an extremely tolerant tradition that does not in anyway seek to impose its teachings on individuals. According to Buddhist leaders, abortion is a risky task and lack of skill in two major fundamental Buddhist precepts including abstinence from taking life and abstaining from going astray when it comes to sensual pleasures. Buddhists therefore do not think that the state can easily intervene on matters of conscience for the person involved.
In practice of Buddhism, various institutions have laid down different rules and regulations in regards to sensitive moral issues such as abortion. As a result, there is no absolute ruling. Therefore, what a Buddhist should do when contemplating abortion is to closely examine essential and relevant Buddhist principles and reach a sound conclusion.
The first significant Buddhist rule popularly known as the First Precept clearly states that I will not harm any living creature. For this reason, Buddhists should always try to maintain the moral principle and maintain life. In this case, it is imperative to note that if it is accepted that a fetus is alive, then it should not be harmed in any way.
According to Buddhist views on abortion, life begins at conception when three things including the sperm, egg and karmic force come together. This means that human life begins at conception. For this reason, termination of the pregnancy or any intentional abortion would mean that bad karma is carried over from past life and has been paid. The next life will as a result be more fortunate.
Similarly, individuals involved in the abortion process including doctors and the women will accord Buddhism, the person will be generating bad karma for themselves in the act of abortion.
It is also good to note that compassion for unborn fetus is essential but other conditions have to be considered according to Buddhists. Compassion for the woman is highly imperative too and at the very least, if she feels that it was wrong to go for an abortion, kindness should be extended to her and not judgement.
Many Buddhists also feel that in principle and morality, abortion is very wrong and at the very least, highly regrettable act. Even so, a person should always closely examine circumstances under which there are exceptions and avoid condemning those who reach different conclusions.
Summary of Buddhist views on abortion
Generally, Buddhists are advised against taking life and instead protect lives of all living beings. The religion acknowledges that it can be quite difficult for ordinary person to avoid taking life. For instance, a vegetarian avoids taking the lives or animals by planting or growing grains and vegetables but in the process, takes away the life of many insects.
Primarily, the guiding principle in Buddhism when it comes to decision making is relief or elimination of suffering. It is very clear that restrictive abortion laws and abortion itself can cause a lot of suffering to the fetus and mother. For Buddhists, it is obvious that the best way to prevent suffering caused by abortion is to ensure quality education as well as legal access to reliable, safe and low cost contraception.
Even though formal and quality reproductive health education was not part of learning system in many Buddhist countries, it could easily find a place in modern day Buddhist societies. This kind of education is based on Buddhist principles and emphasizes wholesome living, mindfulness and compassion for all living beings and wisdom to make sensible decisions at all times.
Lastly, Buddhists views on abortion recognize incongruity between actual practice and ethical theory. While they do not condone abortion, they advocate kindness and understanding towards all living beings, lovingkindness that is respectful and not judgmental. It advocates for freedom of humans.
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