Abortion from the perspective of eastern religions: hinduism and buddhism

Constantin Iulian Damian

Abstract


Considering that contemporary society becomes increasingly pluralistic from the religious viewpoint, non-Christian religions’ view on bioethical issues as abortion should concern not only historians of religions or theologians, but especially physicians. In this study, we present abortion as seen by Hinduism and Buddhism, two oriental religions comprising almost one and a half billion followers. The sacred Hindu texts that are very clear about abortion correlating it with the most grievous sins a Hindu could commit, and the doctrine regarding the karmic law and rebirth constitute the foundation of the intransigent attitude of Hinduism towards abortion. As for Buddhism, the traditional embryology and the principle of non-violence, seen by Buddhists as a way of life, determine a similar attitude concerning abortion. More than that, if a Buddhist monk even incites to abortion he is “defeated” and scourged with total exclusion from the monastic order, the severest punishment a monk can experience. Despite all these, in India, Thailand or Japan the rate of abortions is very high, a situation caused mainly by the progressive secularization of these societies, since more and more Hindus and Buddhists are excluding the religious and moral precepts from their lives.

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