Is Abortion Morally Right Or Wrong from the Buddhist Perspective

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People love to hear soothing melodies however, do people love to hear a pregnant woman aborting a child who did not get the opportunity to see the world and perhaps to live life to the fullest? The answer differs from one to individual to the other. When a mother of an unborn child removes the embryo or the fetus before it can survive outside the uterus, it is known as abortion. Different countries around the world have different categories of laws and policies. Some believe that abortion is murder and like in Bhutan for instance, does not allow abortion viewing it from a Buddhist perspective. However, it is legal on the grounds of rational cases like preservation of health and to a save woman’s life, and also from rape and incest etc. Therefore, is abortion morally right or wrong subjectively and objectively?

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According to the Kuensel, Bhutan, (2017, January 13), the abortion rate in Bhutan has increased from 1,339 cases in 2011 to 1,566 in 2015. The highest number of the cases were recorded in Thimphu with 292 cases, Sarpang with 252 and followed by Chukha with 237 (Kinga Dema, 2017) which is quite a high number of abortion out of seven hundred thousand of the population. However, knowing the reason behind abortion is also crucial to understanding justice system as a whole. For example in some cases, a pregnant woman is forced to abort a child because of unacceptance from parents and partner where the factor of social judgment comes into its forefront. Second, when a woman unwillingly gets pregnant through sexual intercourse with her partner and when her partner does not want to have child or does not accept to indulge himself in a lawful wedlock, parents sometimes does not want to raise a fatherless child, woman though unwillingly have to abort the child legally or illegally through compulsion.

As a Buddhist state, laws and policies are reasonable and compassionate even to the case of abortion. It is because, women sometimes become victims of unwillingness acts which results in abortion. So, the Bhutan Penal Code of 2014, Part 2, chapter11 and article 146 mentions illegal abortion, it states that “a defendant shall be guilty of offence of illegal abortion, if the defendant unlawfully aborts or induces expulsion of an embryo or fetus or prevents a child from being born alive, except the act is caused in good faith for the purpose of saving the life of the mother or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or when the mother is of unsound mental condition.” (Bhutan, 2004) An abortion can be done legally with strong viewpoints and reasons which at least gives the right to the individual on necessary time and situation. And also, the article 147 mentions the grading of illegal abortion, “The offence of illegal abortion shall be a misdemeanor.” (Bhutan, 2004) Abortion after three months is considered illegal but still woman with some important reasons opt for the abortion. To provide a just and fair society one should understand women through their perspective of why she have to go through abortion since different circumstances prevail and situations force woman to opt for abortion. “From a Buddhist view point, abortion is the act preventing life from happening and is looked at as an immoral act. However, it depends on the circumstances like if an unborn child is to be retarded or if the birth will create serious problems for the parent, then these are the cases where there can be an exception. I believe abortion should be either approved or disapproved based on certain circumstances while understanding the pros and the cons that come with it. (Dalai Lama g, 1993)

It would be ignorant for one to claim directly or make a statement that abortion is clearly wrong for the sole purpose that one did not look into the circumstances which actually enforce a mother to abort her child. An act of abortion can be both right and wrong based on the social context on each society. On societies which are mutually exclusive societies, the lens through which they view the act of abortion or the perception towards abortion is quite different, this is the idea of frame of reference, one society might view abortion as right given that it prevents certain harmful impact to the parent and the society as a whole, while the other, believes that one must not prevent life. These are contradicting ideas upon how abortion is viewed, to draw a closer relation on this particular predicament, the idea of Natalism and Anti-Natalism is one we must look over for it is precisely related to the dilemma of abortion. The idea of Natalism is a belief that promotes the reproduction of human life, whereas the idea on Anti-Natalism is a belief or a philosophical position and a social movement that assigns a negative value to birth, in other words, abortion is morally right. Anti-Natalists assert that human life in itself is hard and suffering persists for all times to come, therefore, to give birth to a child is to burden that child with the suffering, the social and moral obligations as well as the hardships of life. To the contrary, Natalists argue that one must not prevent life, as life itself is the highest form of good, though may consists of a series of hardships, life in itself is a gift, in other words, life is a blessing one must not squander it.

These two ideologies are in stark contrast with one another, and the debate upon it still persists in the contemporary world, it would be quite right to assume that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. These two philosophies are right in their own context given that they have articulated reason and rationale behind their argument. The question of morality and virtue based on abortion is based on how it is viewed culturally, the answer to it depends on the vicinity of the value system which the society created for themselves. One might consider it to be right, while the other condemns it. From a sociological perspective, this might seem to be a social problem, and how abortion is looked at is considered on what is officially right (emphasis is original) based on differing social context. However, the question of is it humane or humanistic to prevent life still perpetuates, on a global context, should it be considered right? Or should it be considered wrong? Perhaps the question can never be answered which would be agreeable to 100% of the living population. In the contemporary world, the idea of post-modernism has taken its toll, to imply the paradigm of the post-modernism on the idea on how abortion should be looked at, it would mean to say that everyone is right in the opinion they hold, there are multiple truths and that there is no such thing as an absolute truth, therefore abortion can be right and wrong based on the opinions of individuals and the society as a whole. In the post-modernist era, the idea of post-truth and how it actually revolves around the lives of every individual, it would be sound to state that facts and figures will not convince people, the modern society is quite inclined to a situation in which they are more likely to accept an argument based on their emotions and beliefs, rather than on facts.

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