Buddhist Attitude Towards Abortion

Buddhist tradition varies from region to region. In this respect, there is no single Buddhist approach to abortion. As regards abortion, Buddhism speaks with more than one voice on this matter. Therefore, there are many debates about Buddhist view of abortion.

The Monastic Code
Traditional Buddhism regards abortion as a serious matter, since abortion involves the destruction of life, which is seen as a negative deed resulting in karmic consequences. In Tibetan Buddhism, abortion is against ethical rules, but the Dalai Lama perceives that: ”Whether abortion should be approved or disapproved of depends on individuals.” Japanese Buddhism and other exceptional circumstances tolerate abortion.

The Lay Buddhist
It is individual. Modern Buddhists consider abortion as an individual choice. Buddhists are supposed to undertake all the responsibilities and consequences related with the life that they choose to lead. And, it also depends on the level of mindfulness that one has attained. While facing the situation of an unwanted pregnancy, Buddhism finds it difficult to deal with it.

In modern society, abortion is still common. In Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the United States, abortion rate is high.

Modern Buddhist View of Abortion
In Japanese Buddhism, abortion is seen as a way to control birth. Those who have conducted abortion will give food and offerings to Jizo, a popular bodhisattva, who will protect the child until it is reincarnated into another life.

In the west, the morality of abortion stirs a variety of discussion. The action of abortion should take into count the specific circumstance in which abortion is undertaken. For instance, early Buddhist attitudes towards abortion were produced under the circumstance in which the status of women was totally different from today. Some argue that the right of abortion is a part of the emancipation of women.

As Buddhism comes across modern values, the discussion of abortion will continue.

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