Buddhists Views on Abortion
Buddha told his followers that they should not believe in anything that he or other religious authorities say on the basis of trust. In his teachings, he emphasized that they should investigate the teachings, test them against personal experience in order to determine whether they were true. In practice though, most of the Buddhist institutions have laid regulations and rules.
However, on the issue of Buddha’s teaching in regard to abortion, there is no clear ruling. What Buddhists are supposed to do while contemplating an issue such as this, is examine Buddhist principles then draw their own conclusion. The First Percept that all Buddhists try to live by is that ‘I will not harm any living creature’.
It is therefore accepted that if the fetus is a living creature, it shouldn’t be harmed. General Buddhist belief regarding rebirth is that 3 things come together at the time of conception and they include the karmic force which is a force that is the effect of previous life, the egg and the sperm. This means that human life starts at the time of conception.
If a fetus is aborted or otherwise dies, in Buddhist terms it means that bad karma from the previous life has already been paid and that the next life might be more fortunate. On the same breath, people who cause the abortion (for instance the doctors, woman etc) will generate bad karma themselves for the act of violence.
Compassion is necessary for the unborn fetus but the conditions need to be taken into consideration since compassion for the expectant woman is vital too. If the Buddhist woman at a point feels sorry for the decision they made, compassion should be felt for her and those around her should not be too judgmental.
Most Buddhists feel in principle, abortion is wrong or regrettable at the very least and while this is the case, one should examine the circumstances and make room for exceptions and not condemn those who arrive at conclusions that are different.
In essence, Buddhism focuses on both result and intention when weighing the morality of a deed. The person that destroys a life unintentionally or one who has plans to destroy a life but somehow fails suffers less karmic consequences than one who makes plans to destroy a life and actually goes ahead to destroy it.
The Buddhist view does not include the concept of rights whether it is ‘right to one’s body’ or ‘right to life’. This is in part because it is an old religion and human rights concept is relatively new.
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