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Pro-Life or Pro-Choice? Humanistic Buddhists’ Voices Surrounding Abortion in Contemporary Taiwan

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  • Grace Cheng-Ying Lin

    (John Abbott College, Canada.)

Abstract

This paper examines the voices surrounding abortion expressed by monasteries in Humanistic Buddhism in Taiwan. As the fundamental principle of ethics, non-harming (ahimsā) prioritizes the value of life. Master Yin Shun and Master Sheng Yen claim that a fetus is a sentient being, and abortion is a sin. Master Chao Hwei further demands a strategy that truly protects the women and the fetus in the patriarchal context. On the other hand, Master Hsing Yun, employing utilitarianism, states that a woman possesses the best knowledge of the consequences of an abortion. Master Hai Tao promotes a newly popularized ritual to appease aborted fetuses, while some monasteries are critical of its possible exploitation of women and manipulation of scriptures. The wide spectrum of Buddhist narratives challenges the pro-life vs. pro-choice mode of debate. Furthermore, the diversity of the narratives shows how reproductive politics in Taiwan is embedded within the conflicts between modernity and tradition, as well as locality and globality.

Suggested Citation

  • Grace Cheng-Ying Lin, 2021. "Pro-Life or Pro-Choice? Humanistic Buddhists’ Voices Surrounding Abortion in Contemporary Taiwan," International Journal of Religion, Transnational Press London, UK, vol. 2(1), pages 61-80, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:mig:ijornl:v:2:y:2021:i:1:p:61-80
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