is an attitude of a Buddhist towards abortion?
Among western feminists, abortion is one of the most discussed
social issues. One argues that a woman should have right over
her body because it is hers. Buddhism does not argue on this
point but takes a clear stand that abortion is killing. One
who chooses abortion transgresses the first precept. But whether
the government should pass a bill to legalize abortion or not
is an issue which needs consideration from various related fields
e.g. social, economic, cultural, etc.
To the argument
which raises a question whether abortion is killing "life"
or not, Buddhism supplies a detailed explanation of conception
and its various stage of formation. This explains the coming
together of sperm and
egg, then through 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th week to a stage called
'Pancasakha' or "5 branches" namely head, arms, legs,
"Life" is present through all these stages since conception.
killing there are at least 5 factors:
it has life,
knowing that it has life,
willingness to kill,
try to kill,
that life is destroyed.
If one has
completed these five factors, killing is completed bearing fruit
of action (Vipakkarma).
As a Buddhist
woman, one may be forced to choose abortion but must be willing
to receive the fruit of her action without trying to explain
away the teaching to suits one's choice.
That a man
should bear equal responsibility of pregnancy is true but entirely
a separate issue to consider.