The Impact of Religious Teachings on the Abortion Debate
The question of abortion has been a controversial issue for many years now, with no clear consensus on the morality of the act. The debate usually pits those who believe that abortion is morally wrong, against those who believe that it can be morally permissible in certain cases. There are a number of different arguments that have been put forward by both sides, but one area that is often overlooked is the impact of religious teachings on the issue. In this essay, I will be looking at some of the major world religions and examining what their traditional teachings say about abortion. I will also be considering how these teachings might apply in modern day society.
2. Traditional Religious Teachings on Abortion
Most traditional religions view abortion as being morally wrong, as it is seen as a form of murder. This is because life is seen as being sacred, and so taking a life is regarded as a serious offense. For example, in Christianity, life is seen as being a gift from God, and so taking a life would be going against His will. In Judaism, the taking of a life is also regarded as being very serious, as it is seen as breaking one of the Ten Commandments, which state “Thou shalt not kill”. Islam also condemns abortion, as it is seen as being contrary to the will of Allah.
There are a number of different reasons why traditional religions view abortion as being wrong. One reason is that they believe that it goes against the natural order of things. Abortion is seen as interrupting the natural process of procreation, which is seen as being vital to the continuation of the human race. Religion also teaches that all life is sacred and should be protected. This includes the life of the unborn child, which is seen as having just as much value as the life of an adult.
Another reason why traditional religions view abortion as being wrong is because they believe that it gives too much power to woman. In many traditional societies, woman are not seen as being equal to men, and so giving them the power to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy would be seen as giving them too much control over their lives. Religion teaches that woman are supposed to be submissive to their husbands and should not make decisions without their permission. This means that abortion would go against the traditional role of woman in society.
3. Biblical Teachings on Abortion
The Bible does not explicitly mention abortion, but there are a number of verses that could be interpreted as condemning the act. For example, in Genesis 9:6-7 it states “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind”. This verse has been interpreted by some Christians to mean that anyone who takes a human life deserves to have their own life taken away from them. This would suggest that abortion would be viewed as being wrong from a biblical perspective.
Another verse that has been used to argue against abortion comes from Exodus 21:22-25, which states “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must pay the woman’s husband a fine of silver and pay her damages… But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life… eye for eye…” This passage has been interpreted by some Christians to mean that abortion would be classed as a form of murder, as it would be taking a life for no reason.
4. The Buddhist Perspective on Abortion
Buddhism does not explicitly forbid abortion, but it is generally frowned upon by the religion. This is because Buddhism teaches that all life is sacred and should be protected. Buddhists believe that taking a life, including the life of an unborn child, is wrong and goes against the principle of ahimsa, which is the belief in non-violence.
However, some Buddhists do believe that there can be circumstances where abortion may be permissible. For example, if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger, or if the child would be born with a serious physical or mental disability, then some Buddhists believe that abortion may be the best option for all concerned.
5. The Dalai Lama’s View on Abortion
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, and he has spoke out against abortion on a number of occasions. In his book “Ethics for the New Millennium”, he states that “the killing of a human being is always negative… There are many instances where it may be considered necessary to take a human life in self-defence or to protect others, but abortion cannot be included in this category”. He goes on to say that “abortion, except in the very early stages of pregnancy…is generally speaking harmful”.
The Dalai Lama’s views on abortion are based on the principle of ahimsa and the belief that all life is sacred. He believes that abortion is only ever justified in cases where the mother’s life is at risk or if the child will be born with a serious disability. However, he does not believe that abortion should be used as a form of contraception, as he believes that there are other methods available that are less harmful to both the mother and the child.
In conclusion, it is clear that traditional religious teachings tend to view abortion as being morally wrong. This is because they believe that it goes against the natural order of things, gives too much power to woman, and/or because it takes a human life which is sacred. However, there are some circumstances where some religions do believe that abortion may be permissible, such as if the mother’s life is at risk or if the child will be born with a serious disability.