Abortion from a Buddhist Perspective. {Video}

In this interview, Michael Stone and Pat Smith discuss the precept of non-harming as it applies to the issue of abortion.

Excerpted from a longer interview; part of Centre of Gravity’s Precepts Online Study Course.

Pat Smith is a physician who has worked as an abortion provider for the past 20 years. She has had a meditation practice for many years and is particularly interested in Buddhist ethics as it applies to her work and the integration of ethical life with the demands and expectations of work, family and relationships.

Interesting in studying Buddhist ethics? Click here for more information.

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Editor: Kate Bartolotta

About Michael Stone (Centre of Gravity)

Centre of Gravity is a thriving community of Yoga and Buddhist practitioners integrating committed formal practice and modern urban life. We offer weekly sits, text studies, yoga practice and dharma talks. Retreats, guest speakers, online courses and audio talks deepen the feel. Each week Michael Stone dishes a talk, often on primary texts by Dogen, Patanjali, and the Buddha, that are collaged with today's headlines and psychological insights to produce an engaged shape shifting dharma, at once historical, personal and political. Notes on these talks by Mike Hoolboom form the heart of this blog. Michael Stone is a yoga teacher and Buddhist teacher. He travels internationally teaching about the intersection of Yoga, Buddhism and mental health. He has written four books with Shambhala Publications on ethics, yoga's subtle body, inner/outer pilgrimmages, and the sometimes uneasy blend of social engagement and Buddhism. Please check out the website at www.centreofgravity.org .

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10 Responses to “Abortion from a Buddhist Perspective. {Video}”

  1. Jessie says:

    What a wonderful interview with someone who is a hero. In my mind, ahimsa often involves making choices between the lesser harm…… For many women, the lesser harm is abortion. For a doctor to honor that decision as the lesser harm and also provide mindful support is not the norm with medicine these days. Thank you for bringing this to attention in times when women's choices are under attack.

  2. suri_k says:

    I love her honesty . I think religious indoctrination and lack of scientific literacy make it harder for women to choose to have an abortion .The guilt factor increases if you think the fetus will feel pain or if you believe it has a soul ,the former is not the case if it is done on time , the latter exists only in the realm of belief . In reality sometimes it is better or more compassionate to have an abortrion than to have a baby that will not be wanted , cared for or that might grow up in a harmful environment (Drugs , alcohol , violence , sexual abuse)

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  4. Padma Kadag says:

    Important subject for everyone to consider. Honest dialogue. When we talk about our "Buddhist Perspective" I really think that if we assume our perspective is thoroughly buddhist then we need to be careful or not careful at all. Some of us think we are Buddhist and some of us think we are and are not… in regard to dharma and what we may or may not understand. There are some of us that think that being "mindful" makes us a buddhist. "Mindful" is not being Buddhist. I , myself, comment on Buddhist articles from my own buddhist experience but I would never assume to speak or present a "Buddhist Perspective".That would be adding more concept more confusion. Though we practice to liberate all mother sentient beings it is important to know that all of these beings are here because of our our own "doing" and it is there, with ourselves, we practice to liberate…how could there even be a "Perspective"?

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  7. [...] As a teenager, like many young people, I was sexually active. I was also a drug addict, incredibly immature, undeniably irresponsible and quite self-centered. And with my dangerously naïve, youthful perspective, I did not understand the potentially devastating consequences of my choices and behaviors. I became pregnant at 16. And as painful and harrowing a decision as it was, I opted to have an abortion. [...]

  8. Janey says:

    I am a buddhist. I had an abortion when I was a young woman, abandoned by my partner, idealistic about what a child needed. I was motivated by what I would now identify as misguided compassion. I HAVE SPENT HALF MY LIFE AGAIN REGRETTING AND RELIVING THAT MOMENT OF HORROR. My child was taken from me brutally and violently, because the world abandoned us to that… This is not what buddhism could call true compassion, true mindfulness. Real buddhists could not and do not support abortion. Women do not want to do this, so often – they are pushed into a corner into which they believe they have to sacrifice themselves. When they speak of the horror afterwards, no-one wants to know… I feel this woman is terribly, terribly misguided. This is not mindfulness.

  9. Janey says:

    Pat Smith is deluding herself. She doesn't care about these women. What trouble has she taken to find out why they are there, what circumstances have produced such a heart-rending decision and what failure of true care and compassion has occurred? It all reminds me of someone agreeing to help people commit suicide because they are depressed. Is the Buddhist response to such a situation to say, "Sure, okay, I will mindfully help you kill yourself?" Is it not rather to point the way to the ground of true skilfulness, which is to hold life as sacred and to point the way past the present feelings of fear or inability to cope? I think she is doing something truly horrible and calling it Buddhist…. her thinking is muddled, confused, relativist. None of this is related to the teachings of Gautama Buddha.

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