Pro-Life or Pro-Choice? Humanistic Buddhists’ Voices Surrounding Abortion in Contemporary Taiwan
Keywords:abortion, Humanistic Buddhism, Taiwan, abortion ritual, social movements
In Taiwan, abortion was legalized in 1984. This paper examines the voices surrounding abortion expressed by monasteries in Humanistic Buddhism, a prominent Buddhist philosophy practiced in modern Taiwan. Humanistic Buddhism emphasizes that it is a “religion of the people.” However, in addition to the law of karma and causality, the value of all life forms is prioritized based on the ethics of “non-harming (ahimsā).” When some monasteries insist that abortion is killing, resulting in karmic retribution, some express sympathy with a woman’s decision to abort. When some monasteries promote a newly popularized ritual to appease aborted fetuses, some are keenly critical of the exploitation of women and manipulation of scriptures. Through a discursive analysis, this paper demonstrates the wide spectrum of Buddhist narratives in response to reproductive politics embedded in the conflicts between modernity and tradition, as well as locality and globality.
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