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What would Sid do: Buddhism and abortion

posted by Lodro Rinzler

by Lodro Rinzler

angulimal.jpg   Angulimal, photo courtesy of shunya.net

Before Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment at age 35 he was a
confused twenty and thirty-something looking to learn how to live a
spiritual life. He had an overbearing dad, expectations for what he was
supposed to do
with his life, drinks were flowing, lutes were playing, and the
women were all about him. Some called him L.L. Cool S. I imagine
close friends just referred to him as Sid.

Many people look to Siddhartha as an example of someone who attained nirvana, a buddha. But here we look at a younger Sid
as a confused guy struggling with his daily life. What would he do as a
young person trying to find love, cheap drinks, and fun in a city like
New York? How would he combine Buddhism and dating? We all make mistakes on our spiritual journey; here is where
they’re discussed.

Each week I’ll take on a new question and
give some advice based on what I think Sid, a confused guy working on
his spiritual life in a world of major distraction, would do. Because
let’s face it, you and I are Sid.

Have a question for this weekly column? E-mail it here and Lodro will probably get to it!

—————————————————————————————————————————————
I am a single mother raising a young man who is 4 years old. I am 41 and I have been pregnant 3 times. The first I terminated and can NOT forgive myself for. The second was a miscarriage. Everyday I wonder why I am here and how I could have been so selfish as to KILL my child. I love my son, but wonder why I have been given another chance. I have also been VERY self destructive in trying to find forgiveness for my actions. WWSD? – Pretty Girl



Generally speaking in Buddhism it is believed that life starts at the
time of conception. Little in-between realms you sees your parents
having sex, thinks it looks pretty cool, and goes to investigate. At
that point your consciousness has entered the realm and goes about the
process of being born. As such the Buddha taught that abortion is
indeed taking a being’s life
which is a grave misdeed.

In our
modern world many Buddhist teachers have said that there are times that
it may not be karmically awful to have an abortion if the child poses a
significant health risk to the mother. Along those lines His Holiness
the Dalai Lama has admitted in an interview with the New York Times
that “…abortion should be approved or disapproved according to each
circumstance.”

Traditional Buddhism may discourage abortion, but
it also discourages imposing rigid moral absolutes. While I suspect Sid
would probably not encourage his partner to have an abortion I doubt he
would deny a woman her right to chose what she should do with her body.
I have to say this is a departure from what I personally would do as
Lodro Rinzler, who is not Sid and may or may not encourage my partner
to get an abortion (although Sid and I agree on the second part). These
are issues I have to reconcile for myself.

Buddhism is such an
individualistic path. I have no idea why you had an abortion and as
such have no right to condemn or praise you (and commenters, please be
kind here: there are real people behind these real questions!). I do
encourage you to contemplate the motivation behind your decision.
Knowing nothing about you whatsoever I will only guess that what you
did was meant to diminish suffering not only for yourself but also for
the child that you would be bringing into the world. If that’s the case
then your intention wasn’t all bad and since the act has occurred
learning to forgive yourself is extremely important.

Dilgo
Khyentse Rinpoche once said, “In the case of an abortion…if the
parents feel remorse they can help by acknowledging it, asking for
forgiveness, and performing ardently the purification practice of
Vajrasattva. They can also offer lights, and save lives, or help
others, or sponsor some humanitarian or spiritual project, dedicating
it to the well-being and future enlightenment of the baby’s
consciousness.” All good options, although I’d say Vajrasattva, a
Tibetan Buddhist purification practice, should be learned from an
authorized teacher. In other words, don’t try this at home. Or through
a book.

I am reminded of the story of the Buddha and Angulimal.
Angulimal was a murderer. A mass murderer. It’s said that he had killed
999 people and wore a necklace of fingers, one from each of his
victims. Still the Buddha went down the road to see him. Angulimal
warned him that if he came any closer the Buddha would be his 1000th
victim.

The Buddha, willing to offer his life to fulfill
Angulimal’s desire to complete his necklace asked only for one last
wish. His desire? For Angulimal to cut a branch from a tree. Angulimal
did so and offered it to the Buddha. Then the Buddha asked him to
reattach it to the tree. When he saw the murderer was confused the
Buddha explained, “If you cannot create, you have no right to destroy.
If you cannot give life, you don’t have the right to give death to any
living thing.”

Angulimal was instantly transformed, put down his
sword and was accepted into the monastic order. He was forgiven by the
Buddha himself for his misdeeds and is said to have died a truly
awakened man.

I mention this story not to equate what you did
with this mass murderer (really and truly) but to point out that even
the harshest and most senseless of acts can and have been forgiven.
Furthermore our largest mistakes serve as the largest fodder for our
path to enlightenment. We learn what aspects of our life we want to
cultivate and which we need to learn to reject. We grow stronger
knowing that we have survived our mistakes and learned from them.

You
mentioned that you have done many self destructive things on your path
towards forgiveness. The fact that you have recognized those things as
destructive is step one. Step two is abandoning those things. Step
three is even harder. Step three is learning new habits, specifically
learning to be with our emotions as they are, be they guilt, anger, or
sadness. To feel our emotions fully is, in my experience, the best road
to forgiving ourselves for our mistakes. I probably sound like a broken
record on this blog but meditation is a valuable tool that enables us
to be present with just these sorts of experiences.

Furthermore,
I think the Buddha’s quote is quite relevant to your situation. At this
point you have given life to a precious being. You can love him and
raise him with a heart full of compassion and understanding. I
personally believe that parenting is a full and rich path that, if done
correctly and if partnered with meditation, can lead to great awakening.

I
wish you tremendous luck on this path towards forgiveness as well as on
your path of parenthood. Learning from our mistakes is a valuable
practice opportunity. Learning to forgive ourselves is even more
valuable. However, learning to be present in the midst of great
confusion or sadness is the bee’s knees. As Acharya Pema Chodron has
said, “This moment is the perfect teacher.”



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Comments read comments(21)
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MrTeacup

posted September 26, 2009 at 1:22 am


The Buddha also says that moral shame and fear (hiri & ottapa) are wholesome mental factors.



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jeux d'action

posted September 26, 2009 at 8:37 am


Thanks for sharing such historical information here. I like this article. As I am also a follower of Buddhism. I have read so many book on him. Well this is very nice post here. I like this site and will visit this site in future too.



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curious

posted September 26, 2009 at 11:24 am


You mention that “Buddha taught that abortion is indeed taking a being’s life ” I was wondering in what teachings Buddha spoke of such things? I’ve never come across something like this and was wondering what your source was? thank you



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Lodro Rinzler

posted September 26, 2009 at 12:25 pm


Hi Curious,
The Buddha taught on abortion in the Dharani Sutra of the Buddha on Longevity, the Extinction of Offenses, and the Protection of Young Children(http://web.singnet.com.sg/~alankhoo/Longevity.htm).
Within this sutra the Buddha says, “There are five kinds of Evil Karma which are difficult to extinguish, even if one were to repent of them. What are the five kinds of offenses? The first one is killing the father, the second one is killing the mother, the third one is abortion, the fourth one is to injure The Buddha, the fifth one is to create disharmony among the Sangha assemblies. These five types of evil and sinful karma are difficult to extinguish.”
Difficult but not impossible! He goes on to say if one meets the Buddha and the sangha, repents sincerely, and makes no more such offenses than one’s karma can be purified. “Meeting the Buddha” we may need to take liberally here to mean more than our friend Sid who died 2500 years ago.
Of course the woman the Buddha teaches reaches a state of awakening and is of great benefit to others.
I’m going to amend the article to link to this sutra now. Thanks for bringing this up.
Yours in the dharma,
Lodro



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churchmouse

posted September 26, 2009 at 12:35 pm


Here was a guy who did not stand up to responsibilities. He had a wife and son and he left them because he didn’t care about them he cared about himself. He showed the world that you should whatever you can to make yourself happy at the expense of others. Yes, “answer only to ourselves”……..what a way to look at life and the world. Who would ever want that kind of enlightenment?
Abortion is taking a life so I am sure Buddha would have condoned abortion.



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Samantha

posted September 26, 2009 at 1:26 pm


I had an abortion, which I wouldn’t do now, but I stand by my past decision. Having a baby then would have ruined my life in many ways. Creating suffering for myself because of my past actions seems indulgent. I had an abortion at the time that I did for my particular reasons. Women have abortions all over the world for all different excuses. I am one of the ranks. Moral regret seems like sentimental make-myself-feel-better-for-the-action to me. This is the problem with the abortion debate, for us pro-choicers. We have to say abortion is awful but of course it is the woman’s right to choose. If we think that abortion should be legal, why can’t we say: Women have the right to abort. We stand behind it. Period. Most women do not get abortions because they are raped or incest victims. They get them because they are too young or too poor or a combination of both.
I am escaping the realm of Buddhism, of course, but I would say to PG that you terminated your pregnancy because you were not ready to have a child. Now you are.
What I do feel bad about was the fact that I got pregnant in the first place, which happened because of really shoddy and lazy birth control measures on my part. For an individual over 18, there is no excuse for unplanned pregnancy. Birth control makes you depressed? Use a condom. Condom breaks? Get a morning after pill – they are over the counter. Condoms make the sex not as good? Use lube. Get better condoms. All less expensive than a child or an abortion.
Girls under 18 are required to have a parent’s signature for the morning after pill, which is ridiculous to me – no one is less likely to tell their parents that they had sex the night before than a teenage girl. (Kind of off-topic but I think that is ridiculous).
I take the precept of do not engage in harmful sexuality to also mean to have sexual responsibility.



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CP

posted September 26, 2009 at 3:45 pm


Thank you, Lodro, for your eloquence, inspiring scholarship, and warmth, all of which were on display in this post.
I had a couple of observations:
* On the five acts whose karma is difficult to exhaust, I found it striking that abortion was included. There is a very similar list in the Tibetan tradition, which I am inclined to think must be strongly rooted in the Mahayana sutras as well as the Indian shastras, of the “five acts of immediate consequence,” i.e. five acts that are guaranteed to ripen negatively in the same lifetime in which they were committed: matricide, patricide, killing an arhat, inciting discord in the sangha, and drawing blood from the body of a buddha with malicious intent.
Clearly the list is slightly differently formulated in the Chinese text that is translated at the link you provided. I’m definitely not a “blame the translator” type of audience member, but, at the same time, I feel a little skeptical of “abortion” as a translation of whatever was said in the source text. I’m very willing to accept the possibility that the Buddha was referring directly and explicitly to abortion, but I’d love to have a Chinese translator double-check this to see if the Buddha wasn’t simply referring to parents killing their children in general.
From a scholarly perspective it’s a little frustrating that the translators of the text did not include any information on the translation–not on the modern English translation or on the ancient translation into Chinese from the source language.
The second thought I wanted to share was on morning-after. I think this is also a gray area for Buddhists. My understanding–and please correct me if I’m wrong–is that the morning after pill prevents an already-fertilized egg, if fertilization has occurred, from implanting itself in the wall of the uterus and thus being able to develop beyond the zygote stage.
That sounds super gray to me in terms of how Buddhists should view the egg-not-in-the-wall. If the egg has been fertilized, does that mean consciousness has entered it? Or does consciousness wait for the wall to do the entering? I wonder if anyone ever asked post-B-tree Sid about that one.
So it seems like morning after demands its own serious ethical contemplations.
Again, thanks very much!



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Jason

posted September 27, 2009 at 4:08 am


I really believe that we should let science inform our opinions here. A zygote does not have a brain or brain activity. While it may have consciousness of some sort, this is a matter of faith, and is no more likely to have consciousness than anything else without a brain (trees, for instance). If it does have consciousness, it is probably not the same sort of waking consciousness a living human with a functioning brain has, but is probably more like the consciousness of a disembodied spirit.
I’m going to quote wikipedia – not necessarily the best source, but it’s something at least. “Electrical brain activity is first detected between the 5th and 6th week of gestation, though this is still considered primitive neural activity rather than the beginning of conscious thought, something that develops much later in fetation. Synapses begin forming at 17 weeks, and at about week 28 begin multiply at a rapid pace which continues until 3–4 months after birth. It isn’t until week 23 that the fetus can survive, albeit with major medical support, outside of the womb. It is not until then that the fetus possesses a sustainable human brain.” From the page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_gestation
Lodro, you said “…a woman her right to chose what she should do with her body.”
I think that right is exactly what is in question. Or should I say, whether or not the fetus is the mother’s body or its own body is the question. I would say that before brain activity begins, it is very clearly a part of the mother’s body. Once brain activity has begun, it is very clearly the body of another living human being which happens to be housed in the mother.
At this point there can still be some tension between the mother’s rights and the baby’s. For instance, does the baby have the right to stay housed in someone else’s body when the mother doesn’t want it there? Does the act of getting pregnant (barring rape, of course) constitute an implicit responsibility to maintain the course of the pregnancy?
I think the law is sensible by imposing term limits on abortion.



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Adele

posted September 27, 2009 at 4:19 am


@CP: I agree wholeheartedly with what you wrote about the translation point. I also find it very hard to believe that Buddha explicitly mentioned abortion and it is far more likely, as you say, that he mentioned killing one’s children. Being a translator myself, thats the problem with translation, so much can be lost in just one word.
That said, in all the Buddhist traditions killing any life with consciousness is considered as wrong and so it all depends on when we consider something to have a mind. This is a grey area, even in Buddhism. Apparently there is a sutra, although not sure which one, where the Buddha talks about the stages of conception and even talks about the lack of consciousness during the first stage of development of a foetus.
On the other hand, you have Tibetan Buddhism and the Bardo Thodrol. A book written many years after Buddhda died which explains the process of birth and death in great detail. This book states that a very subtle level of consciousness enters the embryo, that is when egg meets sperm. Tibetan Buddhists argue that even though very subtle it is still consciousness and so has a mind. The impression I get from the Tibetan teachings though are that the most important point to remember in abortion is that one is taking away a potential human life, which is very precious and rare. However, such thinking would go right back to the intial conception itself.
Another way of looking at it, and this is true for tibetan buddhists as well, would be to say abortion is wrong but the karma of the negative action can be significantly reduced through regret, purification and so on. In Japan, where contraception has been illegal until recently, and which is a predominantly Buddhist country, there has been a special grieving ceremony (mizukyo) created for women who do perform abortions that incorporates the element or regret and wishing the consciousness a good journey to their next life. “Mizuko” translates to “water child” and refers to the unborn—those who were aborted, miscarried, or stillborn, “beings who float in a watery world awaiting birth.” This strikes me as a very compassionate and practical solution to what is a very difficult decision for most women. For more on this see http://www.humanflowerproject.com/index.php/weblog/comments/mizuko_jizo/
Whatever the actual truth may be, I totally support a woman’s right to choose abortion though even though it is considered to be a negative act. We perform many negative acts in our lives, some are worse than others admittedly. However, until we are free from such negative actions I don’t think we should judge others too harshly either.



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Vixen

posted September 27, 2009 at 11:58 am


One of the foremost teachings of Buddhism is “Help as much as you can and at the least, do no harm.” In the 5 Precepts, we find blanket statements against killing. Regardless of how you try to cloak it in euphemisms, a tiny baby in the womb IS alive, has unique DNA, and is human… it is not an animal, or an inanimate object; it is a tiny human. That seems to be the sticking point on abortion in general… when does the personhood begin, how do we define life, where is that hazy line of personhod. One day it is a blob and the next day it’s a baby? Partial birth abortions are those performed at the 4th and 5th month and sadly sometimes beyond. Think about that. A baby able to survive after a botched abortion was at the heart of that debate… should the doctors apply life-saving treatments if they failed to kill it the first time?
A woman’s right to choose comes long before she becomes pregnant. Choose your relationships skillfully, respect your body as a sacred vessel of a human birth, choose contraceptives and use them skillfully to avoid ever having to face an unwanted pregnancy.
I take issue with those who would characterize the baby in the womb as a parasite, an intruder. This is how we procreate! These are our children and you don’t have to be a scientist to figure that out.
I have faced unplanned pregnancies twice. The first time was the result of carelessness, and I accepted my beautiful daughter who is now 21 as a gift. The next one was much more difficult because the doctors insisted I’d have a child with birth defects. I simply knew I would be killing no matter how I tried to use technical terms to detach from that fact. Using words like “conceptus”, “pregnancy tissue”, “fetus”, and “just a mass of cells like a tumor, really… it’s not even a baby yet! (one tech’s description of my 12 week baby in utero)served only to separate the humanity from the child I carried.
This was karma in my face; this event was the culmination of thousands and thousands of choices up to the moment. I realized that how I reacted would show me what I had learned up to that point. Would I be skillful and compassionate, or would I be quick to get rid of the trouble and move on? I chose life.
My son is now 17, normal in every way, and I think he is a remarkably compassionate young man. I am very happy I decided to take the path that seemed impossible at that time. I’m glad my teachings pointed me in the direction of consideration and compassion. I’ve talked to many women who have had abortions and regret them, but I’ve also talked to women who have had several and used them as contraception and have no issues with them because there is no thought of the ‘problem’ as a baby.
So, what would Sid do? I can’t imagine the Buddha ever telling a woman to kill her own child or telling the father of a baby to encourage his wife or partner to do it either. I truly think he would say, “Do no harm.”
For the rest of us debating this very volatile topic, may we all remember that it is one of the most heart wrenching situations a woman can face. I should know. The last thing we should do is judge the woman who has made that choice. She deserves all the compassion and support of the sangha so that this may never happen again. Sadly, the majority of abortions are done for convenience- not for the reasons often cited in these discussions… rape, incest, or ‘life of the mother’ reasons. Planned Parenthood’s own statistics reveal that only 4-5% of all abortions are performed for those reasons. Something is wrong at the early choice phase… before the baby is conceived and that should be examined more thoroughly. Think of all the negative karma that would be saved if we never had to face the prospect of an abortion in the first place!
My heart goes out to all who face this…



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Your Name

posted September 27, 2009 at 1:14 pm


I must thank all of you who have commented! The most powerful thread to me in all the responses is to forgive yourself. Not to forget your choices but to be compassionate with yourself. Every moment presents us with an opportunity to choose a thought, a spoken word, a response to others – here is your way through. How you got here is the story but not the “now” – and now is all we really have. I do not miminize the difficulty and heartfelt reget in your email – I only hope to pass on what worked for me.
I too had an abortion at a young age – and it propelled me to learn more about myself, my spiritual sense of life and to live a more committed life in general. It was a decision that I made based on my situation at the time. Had I been older and carried more wisdom in my heart and courage for life in general I believe I would have made a different choice.
One of the most difficult aspect of that decision – even when I made it – was knowing I lived at a cross roads with any choice made changing my life’s direction permanently. Once made, I was detemined to never be in that position again – to live a more responsible life before such a choice had to be made.
This committment led me to study Buddism and realize I had been reaching out for just such guidiance all along. What I learned about my own self was that I regretted being in such a position – the real cause of my angst. Cause and effect were turned around in my thinking so now, through my growth, I could recognize the effect my actions had and the subsequent decisions they seemed to cause.
While the point when life begins is still a mystery to me, I do not believe that God ever abandons any soul of any type in any way! Not mine in this life nor that life I let go. I will not defend my actions of the time nor any longer will I consider them as “good or bad” choices. That moment led me to a more responsible, compassionate, giving life that allowed me to touch many. Would that I could have lived that life without an abortion – yet that was not to be my path.
May you have peace in your heart and the knowledge that you are not alone in your quest. I am grateful to you for the courage to ask your questions and the opportunity you have given me to receive.



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klosa

posted September 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm


Your reality at that time was yours alone to live and for you alone to know that an empty vessel can not give what it has not. Accept yourself and forgive your self as that suffering no one who has not being there can understand. I feel your pain. You are not alone. But remember grow from this and move on. My suffering left me when I shared my experience with many as a volunteer in a family planning clinic. Also counseling young teens at a youth center, boys and girls.
It is part of your path and Sid would say hang in there!
namaste



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Louise (aka @ThoughtsHappen)

posted September 27, 2009 at 9:20 pm


Just wanted to say I love this blog. I am impressed to see so much thoughtful conversation on so many thorny issues here. I am so glad I found this community.



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Devon

posted September 28, 2009 at 2:13 am


Well, you’re right that traditional Buddhism denounces abortion. And I happen to agree. Even though there are some extreme cases that may not be easy to nagigate, morally – like when the child poses a health risk to the mother – by and large, I find abortion immoral. And the Buddha would likely agree.
Now, in the end, I’m not trying to make people change their beliefs. If people belief that abortion is acceptable, then that’s their choice, even if I disagree. That being said, I find it weird that people wish to transpose modern moral ideas onto ancient traditions. Like I said, Buddhism is not exactly friendly to the idea of abortion. Yet some modern Buddhists, especially here in the west, where Buddhism has been associated with liberalism, try to project their pro-choice ideals onto Buddhism to try and find justification. I’m sorry, but I imagine that, if confronted with the old argument that a woman should be able to do whatever she wants with her body, the Buddha would probably raise an eyebrow and ask, “And what of the child’s body?”



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Anan E. Maus

posted September 28, 2009 at 5:31 am


I fully agree with the expression of how Buddhism would approach abortion.
As to the person who originally posted the question, I would say that it is important to get into counseling about this issue. If you would like a Buddhist approach to counseling, there are professional therapists who are also practicing Buddhists.
It seems to me, from what you have expressed, that you might have some PTSD, regarding the issue. So, again, I think it would be best that you get into some counseling.
In addition to that, I think getting into the habit of doing some good works for others, will help you a great deal. You can contact the United Way or a local volunteer center for some suggestions.
gassho



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Adele

posted September 29, 2009 at 4:07 am


Although I agree with some of the posts that think its important to remember that abortion is a negative act, its also important to remember there are many many negative acts we perform every single day with our speech, bodies and minds. Some are worse than others but they all involve the three negative mind states of self-cherishing, attachment and aversion/anger. These mind states lead to jealousy, arrogance etc. which lead to bullying, greed, theft, murder and so on.
According to the Buddhist teachings, then unless you are enlightened then you will have committed negative actions already in this life and past lifeftimes. Therefore, abortion should not be singled out by holier than thou people as an evil immoral act nor should they judge or look down on others who have done it. Everyone has their own actions, words and thoughts to deal with and we really do have no idea of the individual motivation or mind state behind every single abortion. Let’s face it, even an abortion carried out for convenience may be appraoched with an attitude of deep regret and sadness. I’m very dubious of any poll that claims to know the exact motivation behind the majority of women who have had abortions.
Or as another very famous spiritual figure said: ‘Take the plank out of your own eye before you take the splinter out of another.’



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Robin

posted September 29, 2009 at 9:21 pm


I can’t help but wonder about the negativity of bringing a child into the world that isn’t going to be loved or wanted. No one takes abortion lightly, but it is, at times the best choice in bad situations. And I believe the soul can’t be destroyed, so it will go on to another body – and hopefully be born into a loving life. I work with (innocent) children who have been abused, neglected, molested and are now mentally ill because of the abuse in their young lives. Sometimes being born is not positive…there are always different sides to an issue that need to be considered.



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Jen W.

posted September 30, 2009 at 11:12 am


There is no need for guilt or shame here because Pretty Girl allowed herself to be vulnerable when asking for feedback regarding her difficult situation. When I learned that I was pregnant with twins, the man I was married to instructed me to abort them immediately because he did not want them. At that point in my life, I was mother to two other children and my instincts told me regardless of the lack of support I received, those twins were meant to live and thrive and be raised by me.
I followed my instincts by taking a stand and making a commitment to my twins. I did not have the support or encouragement of their father during the pregnancy, however, I did have the ability to support and encourage myself. My love for my twins helped me to stay focused. I learned that accepting the things I had no control over helped me tremendously. Although he and I divorced three years later, he absolutely adores our sons. They are eight years old and they teach both of us about love and the importance of being present.
By listening to your instincts, you will discover your truth. Best wishes to you ~!



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confused

posted October 2, 2009 at 6:59 pm


it has been of some help to read this thread, however, i still have one over-riding question that i cannot find anywhere online.
a number of years ago (before i had any religion) i was forced into an abortion. it was botched on the day and has caused me not to be able to get pregnant in the future, which i now believe is karma. every day since this i have cried and prayed and apologised to my terminated baby, but, is there anything i can do which will help me gain forgiveness in the buddhist faith?
i live everyday the best way i possibly can but is that enough?
any input would be more than welcome.
thankyou.



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Amaya

posted November 19, 2009 at 10:49 pm


My husband started physically assaulting me the night before our wedding. I reasoned to myself that it wasn’t a big deal. It was just a shove. He was under a lot of stress. Besides, our guests were sleeping in their hotel rooms, expecting to attend the beautiful ceremony I planned; so, I pushed “the incident” to the back of my mind and walked down the aisle.
Six weeks after the wedding, we had a heated argument, which ended with him grabbing me by my neck, choking me, and throwing me across the room to the ground. Twice, in the same night. In my shock and denial, I thought I could change him, believed it wouldn’t happen again, thought I had somehow caused it. The thought of ending my marriage or leaving him didn’t even cross my mind, I stayed with him. The abuse continued. I have a daughter from a previous relationship, and though I love my child and am grateful I had her, I loathed being a single mother. Even after the abuse, I reasoned that it was better for her to have a father figure in her life than none at all.
Fast forward to the positive pregnancy test sign, I’d recently escaped to my parent’s house with my daughter after the latest fight; this time, my husband locked me in the bedroom after breaking down the door and reversing the lock to trap me in until “ I learned how to appreciate him”. I managed to get out grab my daughter and the car keys, and drive, bear foot and crying, 3 and half hours to my parent’s house.
After a few days, I returned home again to tell my husband about the pregnancy, by this point in our marriage, I’d left him at least half dozen times already. The thought of having an abortion had never crossed my mind. I wanted this baby. I wanted my husband to stop abusing me. I never expected that the abuse would actually get worse during my pregnancy, and though publicly he expressed excitement about the pregnancy, behind closed doors he raged, threw things at me, said horrible things to me. Now that I am in counseling, I’ve learned that the number one cause of death for pregnant women is murder. My husband was choking me and hitting me while pregnant with his child, so who’s to say that he wouldn’t have severely injured me or even killed me during one of his fits of rage?
I was almost 9 weeks pregnant before I’d even considered having an abortion. By this point our marriage had completely fallen apart; he continued physically assaulting me. I finally left for good. I didn’t want to be a single mother again. I just started getting my freedom back now that my daughter is older and able to do more things independently. I didn’t want to be tied to this man for the rest of my life. I knew, whether I stayed with him or not, he’d continue to abuse me through our baby. I figured he’d be able to manipulate me into going back to him again. I knew I would rationalize it in my mind that this baby deserved to have a dad, just as I exposed my own daughter to his abuse for the sake of having a man in the house. I was the primary provider for our family, and I couldn’t continue to work pregnant.
I cried all the way to the clinic. My friend drove me. I cried so much during the ultra sound, that the counselor sent me home. She said I still had a little more time to decide, and told me if I wanted to, I could come back next week. She was so kind, she let me know that I was in a complicated situation, and that I needed a little more time to process this decision. I went home. I cried. I prayed. I meditated. I thought about how different my life would be without my beautiful little daughter. I wished my husband would just change. I desperately wanted to believe he could. But in the end, my husband had managed to beat all the optimism out of me, and I knew all my hopes were for naught. I came to peace with my decision. That next Saturday, my friend drove me back to the clinic. This time, I went through with it. I said my goodbyes. I asked for forgiveness. When I woke up, maybe it was the effects of the drugs, but the only emotion I felt was relief.
I made my own decision. It was personal, it was painful, it won’t appear as an answer on a survey. When I had my daughter at the age of 20, no one, not christians, not buddhists, nor muslims, helped me to feed her, clothe her, or support her. I did it all by myself, and at 32, I am wiser and know that no one can judge me, it was a hard decision, but in the end, the responsibility of raising that baby would fall on my shoulders. And, I’d forever be subject to an abusive man. So I had an abortion. And I am not sorry. I am not sorry because I know I saved myself and my daughter from a lifetime of regret and pain. I had to take care of the child who is breathing. I saved the precious spirit that came to me from living the pain of witnessing his father abuse his mother. Perhaps I saved this soul from being subjected to my husbands abuse also. I believe this soul came to me to teach me a lesson. It has been 10 weeks since my abortion; and though I released this spirit back to the universe, I chose to believe that it came to me to save me from this horrible man, and give me a second chance at life. Not all souls who incarnate on this physical plane want to live to an old age. This spirit came to save me, and show me that I don’t deserve that treatment. For the women on this post who’ve gone through an abortion, please know that you are fortunate to live during a time in a country that supports your right to chose. Don’t live your life with regret, you don’t know what that soul chose for itself, and not Sid, not the Pope, nor the Dalai Lama can tell you what’s right for YOUR body. Namaste.



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Jay

posted February 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm


I guess you can rationalize anything if you want.



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