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Buddhist View on Abortion

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It is quite clear from a variety of sources that abortion has been severely disapproved of in the Buddhist tradition. It is also equally clear that abortion has been tolerated in Buddhist Japan and accommodated under exceptional circumstances by some modern Buddhists in the U.S. The situation is similar to that of Roman Catholicism, where abortion, though disapproved of in the strongest terms by Church authorities, is still practiced by a large number of devoted Catholics and defended by at least a few.

As a Buddhist, I would most likely still be for abortion. Buddhism itself speaks with more than one moral voice on this issue against abortion. The core belief in Buddhism is against abortion, but there are commonly people of this religion that don't agree with that. For the time in which I will be writing this essay, I am one of those people. Most of my fellow Buddhists believe in the point that you should not be able to choose one life over another. For this reason, abortion cannot be rightly practiced.

Although there are exceptions, Buddhism is still an antiabortion religion, it's just somewhat lenient. Unlike Roman Catholicism, abortion isn't just a flat out "no" in this religion. "The abortion issue usually hinges on whether the fetus is indeed a life in the relevant sense." (Michael Barnhart) In its early stages, a fetus is not considered a human yet to Buddhists. It is alive, but not a human being. Therefore in some cases abortion can be appropriate. "One cannot say that a fertilized egg is a karmically advanced human being just because it is a fertilized egg." (Barnhart) It hasn't even taken human form yet, all that's there is genes. If genes were entirely what made up a person, than abortion would not be acceptable, but that is not the case. In very early stages of a pregnancy, Buddhists don't think of the fetus as a person yet.

I am a Japanese Buddhist. Where I'm from, Buddhism is a little bit different. A lot of Buddhists consider abortion a moral crime, but in Buddhist metaphysics, the life force comes from an existence which is fluid like water and returns to that existence. The fetus is understood to be in a stage of becoming a discrete thing passing out of the ancient waters. Life that appears in our world or in a woman's uterus is the formation of a being that was before in the liquid like state of another reality. Children are liquid and only gradually



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