Abortion

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Re: Abortion

Postby corrine » Sun May 12, 2013 6:31 pm

I have always felt that the whole subject of abortion could be avoided if we human beings could be rational and accept that young women have sex and plan accordingly. Meaning preventing conception in the first place. In today's modern world contraception should be free and available to anyone who wishes it. Contraception in the form of pills, barrier methods, and norplant, which can be inserted in a young girl's arm to avoid conception without even thinking. Yes, ideally, the young should avoid sex until they are ready for a family, but that is not the case and I wonder if it ever has been. In my youth, abortion was illegal and contraception completely unavailable to unmarried women and sometimes to married women. Everyone knew of someone who died due to illegal abortions or families that were struggling to feed children they could not afford.

Here in the u.s.a. there are still many who do not want under age young women to have access to birth control. The strange thing is that when these women do get pregnant and give birth, neither do these people want to help the young woman raise that child.

To me, none of this makes sense. Maybe we think of unwanted pregnancy as punishment for having sex. Regardless, the entire issue of abortion can be avoided by decent planning and teaching our young to prevent pregnancy. As long as hormones exist, the young will have sex at inappropriate times and before they are ready. This is a fact and all of the discussions of the morality of sex are irrelevant. Avoid the pregnancy and we will avoid the abortion issues.

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Re: Abortion

Postby Lazy_eye » Sun May 12, 2013 6:45 pm

Here is Bhante Sujato's suggestion:

We should understand that Buddhists do not generally accept that if something is wrong it must necessarily be made illegal. Such matters must be considered in their social context. Making abortion illegal makes criminals out of women who may often be going through a traumatic experience. And it leaves the market wide-open to unscrupulous practitioners

I would suggest that a more humane approach would be to make abortion and other such technologies legal, but very closely monitored. We must ensure that we, and our sons and daughters, are provided with all the information, guidance, and support we need to enable us to make such life and death decisions responsibly. Children should be given explicit and thorough education at school in the relevant biological, sexual, ethical, and religious issues. When a woman seeks an abortion, she and the father should be provided with detailed information and personal counseling before making the final decision. Our society must accept that addressing the issue of abortion involves not just making moral judgements and providing medical services, but also education in contraception and in responsible relationships. We must offer women a meaningful alternative through adequate child support and social services.

One implication of the gradualist approach to this question is that the moral gravity and kammic consequences of carrying out an abortion will increase each day as the pregnancy continues. Thus it is imperative that we read, discuss, and think about the issues before an unwanted pregnancy occurs. This will hopefully help us to act more responsibly, to consider the issues with a clearer mind, and to make a mature, reasoned decision without undue delay.


Also relevant here, perhaps: birth control is not considered wrong from the Buddhist perspective, at least not according to Ven. Payutto and other sources I've seen.
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Re: Abortion

Postby Coyote » Sun May 12, 2013 6:58 pm

Both Corrine and Bhante Sujato's idea's sound reasonable to me, to problem is in implementing them.
Having an absolute ban on abortion would not make sense unless we are seeking to create the perfect world where everything akusala is illegal.
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Re: Abortion

Postby Zakattack » Sun May 12, 2013 10:37 pm

Coyote wrote:the problem is in implementing them...having an absolute ban on abortion would not make sense unless we are seeking to create the perfect world where everything akusala is illegal.

Should Buddhists concern themselves with these matters? Are the five precepts training rules for individuals that chose to voluntarily undertake them? Are we possibly turning the five precepts into the 'Five Commandments'? Do our moral obligations end with our own lives, those of our families & those that seek refuge in us?

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Re: Abortion

Postby Dennenappelmoes » Sun May 12, 2013 11:31 pm

Zakattack wrote:
Dennenappelmoes wrote:As I've mentioned around here before, there is reason to believe some teachings are deliberately vaguely put (e.g. right livelihood or sexual misconduct)...

Are the teachings vague or is our understanding vague? The teachings about these matters seem quite straightforward.

:alien:


Vague was a poor choice of words, sorry for the confusing statement I made. What I meant is underspecified. It is not defined right down to the level of the exact actions that a person should or should not take. Some of these details vary from culture to culture, so rather than giving a list of wrong professions and wrong sexual acts, it relies on the honest interpretation of the follower of the path to understand the "right" in "right livelihood" and the "mis" in "sexual misconduct" in which steering clear of suffering and ignorance are the lead. At least, that is how I and a few teachers I'm familiar with view it :smile:
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Re: Abortion

Postby Bakmoon » Mon May 13, 2013 1:25 am

Will wrote:As yogurt put it: "trying to form an opinion on abortion in today's world based on the suttas". Very true, but I was not trying to form my opinion or anyone's else's. I simply wanted to get many Theravadin sources on the subject and discuss how abortion was viewed THEN not now.


The Vinaya says that it is a Parajika offense for a monk to be involved in an abortion after the consciousness has manifested itself. That is stated in Parajika 3 in the Sutta Vibhanga.

Ajahn Brahm discusses the issue of abortion in regards to the canonical material in this article which may be helpful:
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books7/Ajahn ... _Begin.pdf
The non-doing of any evil,
The performance of what's skillful,
The cleansing of one's own mind:
This is the Buddhas' teaching.
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Re: Abortion

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon May 13, 2013 1:28 am

Zakattack wrote:
Coyote wrote:the problem is in implementing them...having an absolute ban on abortion would not make sense unless we are seeking to create the perfect world where everything akusala is illegal.

Should Buddhists concern themselves with these matters? Are the five precepts training rules for individuals that chose to voluntarily undertake them? Are we possibly turning the five precepts into the 'Five Commandments'? Do our moral obligations end with our own lives, those of our families & those that seek refuge in us?

:alien:


That is a very good point.

In my opinion, it really should be a personal choice undertaken by individuals. The problem is that, in some countries, religion is closely linked to the state -- and the laws are shaped by the moral norms of the state religion. Happens in Catholic countries such as Ireland, and also in Buddhist ones such as Thailand or Sri Lanka.
Last edited by Lazy_eye on Mon May 13, 2013 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Abortion

Postby binocular » Mon May 13, 2013 10:42 am

Lazy_eye wrote:In my opinion, it really should be a personal choice undertaken by individuals. The problem is that, in some countries, religion is closely linked to the state -- and the laws of the shaped by the moral norms of the state religion. Happens in Catholic countries such as Ireland, and also in Buddhist ones such as Thailand or Sri Lanka.

The inverse is also true: there is the strong and popular view that not engaging in sex or engaging in sex only when desiring to have children is abnormal, pathological.
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Re: Abortion

Postby Lazy_eye » Mon May 13, 2013 10:52 am

Not quite sure what you mean by "the inverse" here. Celibacy should also be a personal choice undertaken by individuals. Why should the state be involved in such a decision?

As for when a couple should or should not have sex -- I would say that's for the couple to decide.
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Re: Abortion

Postby binocular » Mon May 13, 2013 6:40 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Not quite sure what you mean by "the inverse" here. Celibacy should also be a personal choice undertaken by individuals. Why should the state be involved in such a decision?

When standard psychological assessment tests (such as those students have to take in college or as part of the medical exam when getting tested whether one is capable for work) include questions about one's sexuality, and answering celibacy gets one rated as suspicious - then the state obviously has something to do with it.

To say nothing of the general negative attitude that society has toward people who have more conservative views about sex.
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Re: Abortion

Postby Will » Fri May 17, 2013 2:30 pm

Bakmoon wrote:
Will wrote:As yogurt put it: "trying to form an opinion on abortion in today's world based on the suttas". Very true, but I was not trying to form my opinion or anyone's else's. I simply wanted to get many Theravadin sources on the subject and discuss how abortion was viewed THEN not now.


The Vinaya says that it is a Parajika offense for a monk to be involved in an abortion after the consciousness has manifested itself. That is stated in Parajika 3 in the Sutta Vibhanga.

Ajahn Brahm discusses the issue of abortion in regards to the canonical material in this article which may be helpful:
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books7/Ajahn ... _Begin.pdf


Yes, the canonical sources quoted are helpful. His analysis seems flawed at this point though:

The ethical quality of karma has much to do with the happiness or suffering that one deliberately inflicts upon another. When the other is incapable of feeling pleasure or pain, such considerations become irrelevant.


That is exactly the rationale that was used to justify animal cruelty, 'animals nervous system are not very sensitive', thus humans can relax and torture freely. Also, I think kamma has more to do with the mind of the actor, not the subject of any action. That is, having in mind any negative feeling from ridding one's (or another's) body of an unwanted creature - the embryo or fetus - is still implanting negative kamma in our mindstream.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta
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Re: Abortion

Postby Zakattack » Fri May 17, 2013 7:40 pm

Will wrote:Yes, the canonical sources quoted are helpful. His analysis seems flawed at this point though:

The ethical quality of karma has much to do with the happiness or suffering that one deliberately inflicts upon another. When the other is incapable of feeling pleasure or pain, such considerations become irrelevant.


That is exactly the rationale that was used to justify animal cruelty, 'animals nervous system are not very sensitive', thus humans can relax and torture freely.

Taken in context (rather than isolated on its own, out of context), Ajahn Brahma's analysis, pertaining to the primitive embryo, is a statement of fact rather than flawed. Ajahn Brahma's analysis is not the rationale that was used to justify animal cruelty because animals have a fully developed nervous system where the embryo does not.

Will wrote:Also, I think kamma has more to do with the mind of the actor, not the subject of any action. That is, having in mind any negative feeling from ridding one's (or another's) body of an unwanted creature - the embryo or fetus - is still implanting negative kamma in our mindstream.

Yes. This consideration is valid. The mind of the actor must bear instinctual negative sorrow & regret that may arise & reconcile these feelings with their intention. Ultimately, Buddha taught kamma is intention (rather than feeling vedana). Women often abort due to believing they are not in a position to take the many year responsibility for a new life, due to personal, financial, social, etc, deficiencies. Their intentions are often based in concern & fear rather than in violence & hate. Attempting to examine their state of intention may be more profitable than rigid moral fundamentalism. Of course, it is ideal a women carry the pregnancy & place the child for adoption but Buddha explained the world is not an 'ideal' place but, instead, a world fraught with ignorance, craving & suffering.

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Re: Abortion

Postby fivebells » Fri May 17, 2013 8:58 pm

Will wrote:Sure is difficult to focus on what Buddha taught - evidently.


He taught one thing: suffering and the end of suffering. From that perspective, this thread is very ironic.
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Re: Abortion

Postby Will » Fri May 17, 2013 9:59 pm

fivebells wrote:
Will wrote:Sure is difficult to focus on what Buddha taught - evidently.


He taught one thing: suffering and the end of suffering. From that perspective, this thread is very ironic.


Which is why I basically gave up on this one and started another 'Abortion Sources' under Classical. It is there I hope to see more of Buddha's teachings related to abortion.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta
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Re: Abortion

Postby Mr Man » Sat May 18, 2013 8:42 am

Will wrote:
fivebells wrote:
Will wrote:Sure is difficult to focus on what Buddha taught - evidently.


He taught one thing: suffering and the end of suffering. From that perspective, this thread is very ironic.


Which is why I basically gave up on this one and started another 'Abortion Sources' under Classical. It is there I hope to see more of Buddha's teachings related to abortion.


Will, what would you like the Buddha's teachings related to abortion to be?
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Re: Abortion

Postby Will » Sat May 18, 2013 2:29 pm

Will wrote:
Which is why I basically gave up on this one and started another 'Abortion Sources' under Classical. It is there I hope to see more of Buddha's teachings related to abortion.


Mr Man wrote:Will, what would you like the Buddha's teachings related to abortion to be?


First- in the other thread 'Abortion Sources' - not here.
Second - anything related to the birth process & the termination in the womb of that;
Third - the ethical teachings or kammic results of such.
This noble eightfold path is the ancient path traveled by all the Buddhas of eons past. Nagara Sutta
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Re: Abortion

Postby binocular » Sun May 19, 2013 7:12 pm

Ajahn Brahm wrote:The ethical quality of karma has much to do with the happiness or suffering that one deliberately inflicts upon another. When the other is incapable of feeling pleasure or pain, such considerations become irrelevant.
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books7/Ajahn ... _Begin.pdf


The language is convulted here. First he talks about happiness and suffering, and then about pleasure and pain.

If he's trying to convey that embryos don't suffer, and that it is therefore not wrong to kill them - then this also suggests that it is not wrong to kill an arahant, since an arahant also doesn't suffer.

!!
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