Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

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Dhammanando
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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:24 am

SarathW wrote:How about killing an Arahant when he is in Nirodha Samapatti? It is almost a dead body except heat.
Commentarial tradition holds that a yogi is incombustible in nirodha-samāpatti. Perhaps he is immune to other kinds of harm too. But if not, then killing him would obviously be an anantariyaka kamma, for it's more than just heat that distinguishes him from a corpse:

  • “When a bhikkhu is dead, friend, has completed his term, his bodily formations have ceased and are quite still, his verbal formations have ceased and are quite still, his mental formations have ceased and are quite still, his life is exhausted, his heat has subsided, and his faculties are broken up. When a bhikkhu has entered upon the cessation of perception and feeling, his bodily formations have ceased and are quite still, his verbal formations have ceased and are quite still, his mental formations have ceased and are quite still, his life is unexhausted, his heat has not subsided, his faculties are quite whole.” (M.i.296).
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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by SarathW » Sat Feb 28, 2015 1:37 am

Thank you Bhante.
I think the fetus also has the heat, life and faculties (NamaRupa - in it's own right).
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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by Anagarika » Sat Feb 28, 2015 2:17 am

I'm late to the discussion, but as I enjoy diving into turbid waters, I'll add my two baht.

Abortion seems to me to be a tragedy in all cases. How many of the aborted fetuses, for example, would have matured to become the next Einstein, Ronaldo, Marie Curie, Ajahn Chah, or Yo-Yo Ma? Few of these abortions could have come without some regret or hardship. So, it's difficult to be an 'advocate' for abortion. Yet, at the same time, I'm persuaded that the degrees of weighty kamma involved do depend on the physical and consciousness developmental status of the fetus, and the circumstances of the pregnancy, including the factor of if the life of the mother is being threatened. So, per the OP, is abortion killing a living being? Abortion is killing something, but it may not be a "being" until certain developmental stages occur. A being suggests to me consciousness, and a status beyond existing as an organized clump of cells, with only the potential to develop into a conscious, feeling being.

As David mentioned, it's a tricky issue in Sutta Buddhism. Terminating a pregnancy just seems to be heavy kamma. But in the analysis,every step we take involves killing at some level,every bite of food we eat involved many deaths of living objects. If a woman came to me for advice in an early stage of a pregnancy, I'd suggest that she consider the abortion as a necessarily weighty kammic option, and then focus her attention in her life thereafter on cultivating bright kamma. Whether we agree or not on whether abortion is right or wrong, all that we do is kamma, and we roll the kammic dice on most all of these tough ethical questions.

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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by Mkoll » Sat Feb 28, 2015 2:38 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Mr Man wrote:So abortion should be made illegal?
A Buddhist who holds abortion to be pāṇātipāta may be be in favour of making the practice illegal, but won't necessarily be so. In civic matters he may be a secularist who holds that religious people have no business imposing upon the general population moral values based upon undemonstrable faith claims. This happens to be my own view; though I'd rather women chose not to have abortions, I don't think the law should forbid their doing so.
That's the view I'm leaning towards as well...
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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Feb 28, 2015 2:52 am

Anagarika wrote:Yet, at the same time, I'm persuaded that the degrees of weighty kamma involved do depend on the physical and consciousness developmental status of the fetus,

But what is it that persuades you of this?

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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by Anagarika » Sat Feb 28, 2015 5:50 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Anagarika wrote:Yet, at the same time, I'm persuaded that the degrees of weighty kamma involved do depend on the physical and consciousness developmental status of the fetus,
But what is it that persuades you of this?
Bhante, it may be nothing more than the sense that with any theory of causation, consideration is given to the level of intention or negligence of the actor, the perceived benign or harmful quality of the action, and the effect of the action. My view may be influenced by my (distant) past legal training, where liability can be examined in tort theory by looking at the chain of causation and assessing culpability based on one's perceptions of the various factors that make up the chain of causation, and the severity of the outcome. Here, I am placing value on the developmental status of the fetus as a factor in determining the culpability of the actor and the severity of the outcome, or in other words, the weightiness of the kamma. I don't have any Sutta support for this, but am analogizing (roughly) to a legal principle (tort law) which attempts to evaluate culpability for an act or acts that proximately cause some perceived harm.

Just as lighting a stick of dynamite in a forest carries with it different levels of culpability vs. lighting a stick of dynamite in a public market, so too does the act of terminating the life of cells depend on the developmental status of the cells.

The above is just a working theory at the moment, just as I am working on why there might be a black hole in my clothes dryer, as I lose socks every time I do laundry. I can't prove there's a black hole in the laundry room, but I do know the socks keep disappearing. :)

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Re: Abhidhamma

Post by steve19800 » Sat Aug 01, 2015 6:16 am

Coyote wrote:I believe that according to the vinaya it is an offense of defeat if an abortion is carried out on account of a monk's recommendation.

You can read the discussion of the rule in BMC 1 pg. 74 onward. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... o/bmc1.pdf

This would explain why monks might be unwilling to recommend abortion.
This probably gives us a clue whether an abortion is recommended by Buddha or not regardless of the situation.
Often it's because of one person judgement or suffering that lead to commit an abortion, however, one judgement is not always right.
The person/ living being whose life is terminated doesn't always agree to the terminator decision.

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Re: Abhidhamma

Post by Sovatthika » Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:08 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:46 pm
acinteyyo wrote:I'm sorry Bhante, but after a month the fruit of womb isn't a fetus, it is an embryo.
One may quibble about the terms, but whether you call it a blasocyst, an embryo, a fetus, or a baby, it is still a human one, not a mere bunch of cells.
acinteyyo wrote:I don't think it actually is as clearly as it may seem to you. What may look like more is in my eyes "just a few cells". However that may or may not be the result of appearance and impression mixed with some supposition.
Millions of cells is not “just a few cells.” According to this source the beating heart can be seen at 6 weeks of pregnancy, which is just four weeks from fertilization.
im fascinated with the discussion as i've been reading it thus far
this seems like a bad argument bhikkhu pesala because a sperm cell is also human, but masturbation isn't killing a living being
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Sat Feb 07, 2015 6:28 am
Dhammanando wrote:When orders to commit an akusala kamma are passed down a chain of command, every person in the chain who approvingly passes on the order incurs the akusala kamma, but it's the fellow at the top who commits the weightiest kamma and the one at the bottom —the one who actually does the deed— whose action is the least weighty.
I don't know of any reference to support that claim.

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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by Sovatthika » Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:24 am

it seems to me that bhikkhu pesala argues that one has an ethical obligation to carry to term because the unborn [being] has the capacity to develop into a human (the terms are in question, so i hope you get what i'm saying). does it not follow that one would have an ethical obligation to reproduce as much as possible and to encourage reproduction because more humans could be born.
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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:08 am

Sovatthika wrote:
Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:24 am
it seems to me that bhikkhu pesala argues that one has an ethical obligation to carry to term because the unborn [being] has the capacity to develop into a human (the terms are in question, so i hope you get what i'm saying).
It's not a case of "developing" into a human. The unborn child is a human.
Sovatthika wrote:
Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:24 am
does it not follow that one would have an ethical obligation to reproduce as much as possible and to encourage reproduction because more humans could be born.
No. In regard to pregnancy, the first precept has solely to do with not killing a human that has been conceived. But conceiving a child in the first place is not treated even as a desideratum, let alone an obligation in the Buddha's teaching.

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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by SarathW » Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:18 am

sperm cell is also human
The way I understand the sperm cell is not a human.
It is a cell. It may have a life the same way a tree has a life.
In Abhidhamma it describe as Jivitandriya.
A cell may have Jivitandriya but not consciousness.
According to Buddhist teaching, the human birth begins at the conception of the sperm cell and the egg.
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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by Sovatthika » Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:59 am

hi :) bhante
bhikkhu pesala wrote: "The benefit of the unborn child is surely to live, and to be adopted by a caring family if unwanted, or perhaps to be raised by the father if the mother dies during child-birth. No one knows for sure, but most would choose to live over being killed for the short-term benefit of others." he also wrote: "It is not a random statement to say that human birth is exceedingly rare, and of great potential benefit to the being yet to be born. A painful and difficult life, such as that experienced by Kisagotami, Pātācara, and others, may be the spur needed to strive for enlightenment."

he seems to be speaking of the potential for a being to live while also asserting that the fetus or embryo is human. that latter point was not lost on me.
of course, he also says "An embryo that is not deprived of its blood supply will not (normally) die. If it does, then that's not an ethical question, but if we remove it from its life support system, then it is the kamma of killing a human being." so he is asserting that it is living at all stages, whereas some others are asserting that it might not be living. my trouble here has been with a lack of knowledge of relevant texts. the three conditions of conception must occur at the same time? ajahn brahm's paper said embryo was a misleading translation (of gabbha). if i'm not making sense then i will accept blame but i was eager to respond
well sarathw, the sperm cell has human dna is what i was getting at

if a fetus were somehow ejected from the womb early without scrambling it up would that be killing assuming it died of exposure outside the womb
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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by Sovatthika » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:03 am

as an aside, would the case of say terry schiavo be killing, since she was taken off life support

"The question asked was, “Is abortion the killing of a human being.” That is the only question that needs to be answered here." this is my concern
namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā sambuddhassa

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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by SarathW » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:30 am

Is abortion the killing of a human being.
Yes, abortion is killing.
The way I understand, Weight of the kamma will depend on the intention and the level of the fetus development.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by DNS » Sat Oct 14, 2017 6:45 pm

if a fetus were somehow ejected from the womb early without scrambling it up would that be killing assuming it died of exposure outside the womb
If a fetus were somehow ejected and it died, there would be no fault, as long as no one deliberately removed the fetus. It would just be a miscarriage.
Sovatthika wrote:
Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:03 am
"The question asked was, “Is abortion the killing of a human being.” That is the only question that needs to be answered here." this is my concern
Interesting angle. At most times during a pregnancy, the fetus resembles an animal more than a human; including a tail which eventually enters the body as the tail bone, later in pregnancy. However, in Buddhism, it is a violation of First Precept to kill an animal too.

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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by cappuccino » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:04 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
Wed Feb 04, 2015 4:12 pm
It's like she is walking right into her grave
It's like we are walking right into our grave.
Matthew 7

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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by SarathW » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:33 pm

Interesting angle. At most times during a pregnancy, the fetus resembles an animal more than a human; including a tail which eventually enters the body as the tail bone, later in pregnancy. However, in Buddhism, it is a violation of First Precept to kill an animal too.
Agree.
It is a good question.
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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by Sovatthika » Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:22 am

@dns i meant deliberately 'evicting' the fetus, not scrambling it up but like you might force someone out of a building
altogether the arguments to me favored the 'pro-abortion' side, but i sure wouldn't like to be wrong. i wouldn't recommend abortion probably for that reason
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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by chownah » Sun Oct 15, 2017 3:59 am

SarathW wrote:
Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:18 am
sperm cell is also human
The way I understand the sperm cell is not a human.
It is a cell. It may have a life the same way a tree has a life.
In Abhidhamma it describe as Jivitandriya.
A cell may have Jivitandriya but not consciousness.
According to Buddhist teaching, the human birth begins at the conception of the sperm cell and the egg.
I believe you are mistaken. I think that buddhist teachings always refer to descent into the womb as being essential for an idividual to manifest. Fusion of the sperm and egg happens before descent into the womb so it in itself does not constitute the existence of a human individual according to buddhist texts that I have seen.
chownah

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Re: Abhidhamma: Is an abortion killing a living being?

Post by SarathW » Sun Oct 15, 2017 5:27 am

Fusion of the sperm and egg happens before descent into the womb
The way I understand all three happen at once.
It is like lighting a fire from a matchbox. (say when match stick (sperm cell) hit the matchbox (egg or ovarium cell) it light fire (consciousness come to being)
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