i. Research topic
In depth study on abortion and its moral acceptance
In simple definition abortion is deliberate termination of a human pregnancy. This is a controversial topic discussed between people in the world. And the main reasons for such can be discussed as religious, medical and legal aspects related to it. In general under any religion a person does not have right to take away the life of another which signifies that abortion is not acceptable under religious perceptive. And according to the laws of majority of the countries abortion is considered as a crime as well. However the medical aspects related abortion may vary as their might be situations that will led to approve abortion to save the life of the mother or the lady.
Moreover an abortion is not a pleasant experience for a woman in the point of medical view as well as moral view as such action will led to depression and guilt for rest of the life. However throughout the world an increasing trend of abortion cases can be identified. Most of the developed countries have legalized abortion and whereas most of the developing and under developed countries do not encourage and permit abortion. Further approximately over 70000 maternal deaths have caused as a result of such abortions.
Further legalization of abortions in countries depends mainly upon the cultural and religious values in such countries. Thus compared Western countries in Asian countries abortion strictly prohibited. However certain countries permit abortions depending on certain situations such as risk to the mother, medical complications during pregnancy, and pre- identified disabilities of the unborn child e.t.c. Accordingly it is crystal clear that the topic abortion is a very controversial area which majority of the people have various views and which is highly discussed among the people as well.
iii. Research Area
The research will be based on the area of abortion. The subject about abortion is a very delicate topic since it touches moral, religious and ideological points. The right to live is recognized and protected by the Constitution of the country. However numerous abortions occur on a daily basis legally as well as illegally within the country in the present day society. Accordingly the research is based on medical aspects, religious aspects and legal aspects regarding abortion. Further surveys and interviews will be conducted in order signify the view of the general public regarding the research area as well. Moreover the research area will be mostly based on the geographical territories within Sri Lanka.
iv. Research problem
The research problem will be “on which grounds and instances should abortion be legalized?”
In general based on the culture and religious aspects within the country majority of people do not accept legalization of abortion. However based medical and legal aspects there are several instances in which abortion is better to be legalized, that is specially when the life of is on risk. However there are also situations where abortions are yet not legalized however it would more better if it would have been legalized such as in cases of rape , incest etc. Therefore it is essential to identify the grounds to which legalizing abortion will be justifiable to the women who will be the direct victim as well as the society.
v. Research questions
1. What are the medical aspects related to abortion
a. What is the medical background regarding abortion
b. What are the views of persons related to medical services regarding legalizing abortion
2. What are the religious aspects related to abortion
a. What are the religious backgrounds regarding abortion
b. What are the views of different religious parties regarding legalizing abortion
3. What are the legal aspects related to abortion
- The countries which have legalized abortion and reasons
- The countries which have not legalized abortion and reasons
- The legal situation related to abortion in Sri Lanka
- Recommendations in order to avoid illegal abortions and legalize abortion related justifiable situations
vi. Research objectives
- To analyze prevailing abortion rates in Sri Lanka
- To know the reasons for the increasing trend of illegal abortions within the country
- To analyze the reasons why it has not yet been legalized in Sri Lanka
- To know the grounds and instances in which abortion can be legalized
- To analyze the views of the people in the country regarding legalization of abortion
- To analyze why it should not be legalized related with moral values and cultural ethics
- To identify precautions to avoid unnecessary illegal abortions
- To create awareness among the society regarding the medical as well as legal risk regarding mostly on illegal abortions
High school and college students
The research will be more helpful to create awareness among high school and college students. In the present day increase trend of illegal abortions are noted among teenagers as well as much younger persons. The main reason for such is that the students are not aware on the medical risk as well as legal background. Even though education system prevailing within the country have introduced subjects which are related with creating such awareness regarding sexology the teachers or the lecturers are unable to provide depth details on such matters due to various. Thus as a result of knowledge as well lack of safety the present day youngsters tend to be victims of illegal abortions. Further such situation does not only take the right to life of an unborn baby but also will risk the life of the victim as well. Therefore this research will be helpful to create awareness among high school and college students in related to this subject matter.
Persons who had undergone abortion
The persons who had undergone abortions legally or illegally will not generally be in a proper mind condition. The main reason would be the guilty feeling they would experience as they had to take away the life of the unborn life or their own child. Thus this research will provide the grounds on which the abortion can be justifiable based on medical and legal aspects which will help the victims to clear their mind set up to certain extent. However this will also provide awareness to the persons who might have undergone illegal abortion and such will prevent them from undergoing illegal abortions in future.
Persons who need more information regarding the issue/topic
The topic abortion or legalization abortion is mostly in play on controversial discussions among the people in the society. In generally majority of the country do not accept legalization while minority agrees on such legalization. Therefore as citizens we all should have knowledge on this area and create awareness among ourselves for a better future , thus this research will be providing sufficient information in matter on discuss to all regardless of gender , age , religion , society level etc.
viii. Research methodology
There two main types of methodologies as quantitative approach and qualitative approach. Quantitative approach is based on the measurement of quantity or amount. Here a process is expressed or described in terms of one or more quantities. The result of this research is essentially a number or a set of numbers. Qualitative research is concerned with qualitative phenomenon involving quality.
However I will be applying a mixed approach including both qualitative and quantitative. Accordingly internet searches will be referred as it faster and easier to collect relevant information regarding the research area. Further journal articles and books will also be referred to get more details. And to discuss more on the legal perspective decided case laws will be applied as well. Moreover this topic is common and controversial between the people in the society, hence to get their views surveys and interviews will be conducted.
ix. Research sources
There are mainly two types of research sources as primary sources and secondary sources. The primary sources are works created at the time of an event, or by a person who directly experienced an event. And secondary sources are works that are written after the original event or experience and they provide criticism or interpretation of the event or experience. Thus the research will be based on primary as well as secondary sources including internet sources, decided case laws , journal articles, books, interviews, surveys , own ideas and support from lecturers and other related persons.
- Lack of time as it is a vast area to be researched.
- Lack of real incident information regarding actual victims undergone abortion legally as well as illegally as it is a very sensitive area.
- Lack of sufficient case laws in Sri Lanka as there is fewer cases reported regarding the area however case laws can be found at international level.
- The research is mostly limited on Sri Lanka , however several aspects international references will be made,
Chapter 02 – Abortion and Its Medical Aspect
The term abortion is mostly known as killing a child at birth among general society. Further there are many reasons for such abortion to be conducted which are morally acceptable or morally not acceptable. However the acceptance or rejection of an abortion depends on three main aspects such as medical, religious and legal. Thus in each field or aspect there are many reasons for acceptance as well as rejection of conducting an abortion. Therefore these stated areas will be focused and further elaborated to review on the acceptance on abortion or its rejection.
2.1 – Medical background regarding abortion
In medical terms an abortion is recognised as the premature exit of the products of conception (the fetus, fetal membranes, and placenta) from the uterus and it is the loss of a pregnancy and does not refer to why that pregnancy was lost[footnoteRef:2]. In the history use of medications and herbs with presumed medicinal properties to induce abortion was recorded throughout[footnoteRef:3]. However, the safe and effective methods for medical abortion which is also termed medication abortion or nonsurgical abortion, was established in recent present within the world[footnoteRef:4]. [2: Available at https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=2091 accessed on 18th December 2018] [3: Available at https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/unsafe_abortion/ijgo_supplmt/en/ accessed on 18th December 2018] [4: Ibid.]
Further in countries where abortion is permitted on certain grounds or on request and in others where it is highly restricted as well, the medical abortion is identified as one of the most significant developments in the field of reproductive health[footnoteRef:5]. Furthermore there are two main types of abortion procedures such as medication abortion and surgical abortion, and medication abortion is an alternative to surgical abortion[footnoteRef:6]. [5: Available at https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/unsafe_abortion/ijgo_supplmt/en/ accessed on 18th December 2018] [6: Available at https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/abortion-procedures-medication accessed on 18th December 2018]
2.3 – Medication Abortion
Accordingly in the method of medication abortion a combination of two medicines namely “mifepristone” and “misoprostol” are been used to to end the pregnancy up to nine weeks[footnoteRef:7]. [7: Ibid.]
The medicine Mifepristone was previously known as RU486 and in certain instances it is also called as called the ‘abortion pill’ among the general public[footnoteRef:8]. Further medication abortion is a minimal risk and non-invasive method to terminate a pregnancy, which recognized to be 99% effective at ending a pregnancy[footnoteRef:9]. Likewise once pregnancy is seen in an ultrasound the medication abortion can be done[footnoteRef:10]. [8: Ibid.] [9: Ibid.] [10: Ibid.]
Thus as stated the abortion will proceed with intake of mifepristone, which will result in blocking the hormone required for the pregnancy to grow[footnoteRef:11]. Further the second medication to be taken in this procedure is known as misoprostol and this will be taken on the same day within 24, 48 or 72 hours later and this result in causing the body to terminate the pregnancy from the womb[footnoteRef:12]. Likewise this medication softens and opens the cervix and contracts the womb through which pregnancy will be passed through the vagina[footnoteRef:13]. Accordingly these stated medications are identified as a safety method of terminating an early pregnancy[footnoteRef:14]. [11: Available at https://www.mariestopes.org.uk/abortion-services/medical-abortion/ accessed on 18th December 2018 ] [12: Ibid.] [13: Available at https://www.mariestopes.org.uk/abortion-services/medical-abortion/ accessed on 18th December 2018 ] [14: Ibid.]
Advantages and disadvantages of medication abortion
Advantages are as follows;
- No treatment required after taking these two doses of abortion medication for around 95% to 96% of pregnancies up to nine weeks[footnoteRef:15]. [15: Available at https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/abortion-procedures-medication accessed on 18th December 2018]
- Further unlike surgical abortion, in medication abortion there is no requirement of a hospital ,a surgeon, anaesthetist or other medical staff to be present during the procedure and this is identified as an alternative method specially for people living in remote areas as they have minimal facilities[footnoteRef:16]. [16: Ibid.]
- Majority of women prefer this method as it is a less clinical and non-surgical procedure[footnoteRef:17]. [17: Ibid.]
- This is felt as a natural process by majority of women[footnoteRef:18]. [18: Available at https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/abortion-procedures-medication accessed on 18th December 2018]
· Disadvantages are as follows;
- This method is more time consuming compared to surgical abortions[footnoteRef:19]. [19: Available at https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/abortion-procedures-medication accessed on 18th December 2018]
- In minimal instances the procedure of medication will have to be repeated or surgical procedure will be required depending on health conditions or circumstances[footnoteRef:20]. [20: Ibid.]
- The pain and bleeding level result through this method is comparatively higher than surgical abortion[footnoteRef:21]. [21: Ibid.]
- The time taken to end the pregnancy through is this method is difficult to be predicated and it may be longer than the expected four to eight hours, after the intake of second medication[footnoteRef:22]. [22: Ibid]
- For some women Mifepristone may not be suitable and in such cases this method is not applicable[footnoteRef:23]. [23: Ibid.]
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2.3 – Surgical Abortion
This method includes a procedure which involves a local anaesthetic, conscious sedation, or general anaesthetic[footnoteRef:24]. Accordingly there are two method of surgical abortion as vacuum or suction aspiration and dilatation and evacuation[footnoteRef:25]. Thus there are two main procedures regarding the method of surgical abortion and the first procedure is known as vacuum or suction aspiration which is used up to 15 weeks of pregnancy, and this involves inserting a tube through the entrance to the womb (the cervix) and into the womb and results in termination of pregnancy through suction[footnoteRef:26]. And the other procedure is known as dilatation and evacuation which also used up to 15 weeks of pregnancy and it involves inserting special instruments called forceps through the cervix and into the womb which results in termination of pregnancy[footnoteRef:27]. [24: Available at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/abortion/what-happens/ accessed on 18th December 2018] [25: Ibid.] [26: Ibid.] [27: Ibid.]
However compared to medication abortion, in the method of surgical abortion many risks are recognized and few are as follows;
- · The most common complication related to this method is identified as incomplete abortion which also known to be a main risk in the method and this occurs due to remain of small piece of the pregnancy or lining in the uterus and this also result is problematic bleeding or cramping which will require the repeating of this method[footnoteRef:28]. [28: Available at https://www.mariestopes.org.au/your-choices/surgical-abortion-vs-medical-abortion/ accessed on 18th December 2018]
- · In the procedure performed under 6 weeks, may result in ongoing pregnancy which will create complication related to this method[footnoteRef:29]. [29: Available at https://www.mariestopes.org.au/your-choices/surgical-abortion-vs-medical-abortion/ accessed on 18th December 2018]
- · Another risk is identified as infection which is uncommon, thus to reduce the risk of any infection the doctors prescribe antibiotics after the termination of pregnancy[footnoteRef:30]. [30: Ibid.]
- · Cervix been damage is also identified as an uncommon and rare effect which will results in longstanding health issues to the women[footnoteRef:31]. [31: Ibid.]
- · A most serious complication and a risk is known as perforation of the uterus , which is a result of surgical instruments making a hole in the wall, however this is rarely bee seen with the contribution of experienced surgeon[footnoteRef:32]. [32: Ibid.]
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2.4 – General Medical Reasons to Conduct Abortions
- Abnormal progress of pregnancy – in this condition the pregnancy will be identified as not well developing on a normal course and this will result in recommendation of doctors as well[footnoteRef:33]. [33: Available at https://pregnancy.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Medical_Reasons_for_Abortion accessed on 19th December 2018]
- Intrauterine fetal death – this is the situation which a normal death of the fetus expected in the second trimester up to the 20th week of pregnancy, thus is such situation it is considered as a risk to await till the fetus pass out of the bpd naturally as it will result in maternal infection and haemorrhage, therefore the procedure of abortion will be recommended when the death occurs before 24 weeks of gestation[footnoteRef:34]. [34: Ibid.]
- Premature rupture of membranes – in this situation the membrane of the fetus is identified to be ruptured before the fetus become viable to survive outside the uterus (less than 24 weeks) , and in such situation if the women does not have a natural miscarriage up to 20 weeks or go into premature labour if she is past her 20th week of pregnancy, then abortion is medically recommended [footnoteRef:35]. [35: Ibid.]
- Placental separation – this is the condition in which the placenta is separated from the wall of the uterus and this results in heavy bleeding and if the bleeding does not stop in early pregnancy or if it is untreatable, medically abortion is recommended if the mother does not miscarry the fetus[footnoteRef:36]. [36: Ibid.]
- Fetal abnormalities – this is the condition in which a congenital abnormality in fetus and genetic chromosome diagnosed in the early stage of pregnancy , thus in such condition abortion is medically recommended[footnoteRef:37]. [37: Available at https://pregnancy.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Medical_Reasons_for_Abortion accessed on 19th December 2018]
- Fetal congenital birth defects – this is the condition in which it is diagnosed in the early stage of pregnancy that the fetal consist of birth defects which are not compatible with life and such will often results in death of the newborn shortly after birth, abortion is recommended[footnoteRef:38]. [38: Ibid. ]
- Genetic disorders – these disorders are detected on the fetus through an ultrasound, thus in such situation abortion is recommended[footnoteRef:39]. [39: Ibid.]
- Maternal medical conditions – there are several health conditions that worsen or develop during pregnancy which result in a woman’s life at risk if she continues pregnancy, thus in such situations abortion is recommended[footnoteRef:40]. [40: Ibid.]
As explained there are many reasons to recommend abortion due to medical reasons, and majority of these have been legalized across many countries in the world, however with regards to Sri Lanka, under the Penal Code abortion is legalized only at situations where the mother’s life is at grave risk.
2.5 – Medical Status of Abortion With Regards to Sri Lanka
In 1984, the Minister of Health said that over 500 abortions are done in Colombo daily, and that this was only the “tip of the iceberg”[footnoteRef:41]. The proportion of women aged between 35 and 39 years undergoing an abortion in 1998 was estimated to be 0.0667 (95% CI= 0.0458– 0.0877) [footnoteRef:42]. In present day it is estimated that for every 10 babies born in Sri Lanka, seven are being aborted[footnoteRef:43]. Further in 2016 The Ministry of Health has revealed that 658 abortions are performed in Sri Lanka on a daily basis[footnoteRef:44]. In 2018 Dr. Sanath Lanerolle, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Castle Street Hospital has disclosed that according to reliable information, as many as one thousand abortions are taking place in Sri Lanka every day[footnoteRef:45]. [41: Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12313289 accessed on 18th December 2018] [42: Rajapaksha LC. Estimates of abortion in urban and rural Sri Lanka. Journal of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka 2002; 7: 10–16] [43: Ibid.] [44: Available at https://www.newsfirst.lk/2016/05/09/650-abortions-daily-basis-health-ministry-elaborates/ accessed on 18th December 2018] [45: Available at http://www.dailymirror.lk/article/Shocking-shameful-about-abortions-daily-in-Sri-Lanka-152709.html accessed on 18th December 2018]
However with the current community patterns and life style practices many tend to undergo abortions either for their need or for any issue of medical purpose. Accordingly it is signified that even in current Sri Lanka an increase trend of abortions noted in the general public which are conducted legally as well as illegally.
According to the existing laws in Sri Lanka, an abortion can only be performed if the mother’s life is endangered; however the health authorities have stated that many maternal mortalities are caused by illegal abortion, at present[footnoteRef:46]. Moreover Head of the Family Planning Unit, Family Health Bureau, Dr. Sanjeewa Godakanda have stated that 14 illegal abortions have taken place from the 112 cases of maternal mortality that were reported in Sri Lanka in 2014, which is 12.5%[footnoteRef:47]. Further according to Dr. Sanjeewa Godakanda majority of such abortions are undertaken by married woman as they do not want any more children; and as a result illegal abortion has been recorded as the second or third cause of maternal mortality[footnoteRef:48]. Thus in such situations the question arise is abortion the only solution for such family issues. [46: Available at https://www.newsfirst.lk/2016/05/09/650-abortions-daily-basis-health-ministry-elaborates/ accessed on 18th December 2018] [47: Available at https://www.newsfirst.lk/2016/05/09/650-abortions-daily-basis-health-ministry-elaborates/ accessed on 18th December 2018] [48: Ibid]
Moreover Chief Medical Officer of the Sri Jayawardenepura University, Dr. Shantha Hettiarachchi has stated that, for the past three and a half decades, Sri Lanka has not being living with a proper understanding of sex education considering the social and education system and this has been the reason for increase of seeking for abortion among young men and women in Sri Lanka[footnoteRef:49]. [49: Ibid.]
As a result of such high increase in abortion many health authorities connected with non state organizations work towards educating the general public on abortion, safety abortion, family planning, sexual education and many more related to the development of people. Likewise Director of Advocacy at the Sri Lanka Family Planning Association, Sonali Gunasekera have stated that for real progress to be made in Sri Lanka, the issue needs to be brought into the public sphere with campaigns and discussions for the community[footnoteRef:50]. Moreover majority of doctors believe that, law with regards to abortion in Sri Lanka must be reformed and that legal reforms must be made with regards to cases of rape, incest and severe foetal deformities[footnoteRef:51]. Moreover according to Sonali Gunasekera “a full campaign should focus on the woman’s right to choose, up to 12 weeks, however, and if a compromise has to be reached, whereby abortion is legalized as per the medical requests (in cases of rape, incest and severe foetal deformities), this itself will be a win for women in Sri Lanka”[footnoteRef:52]. [50: Saira Meyler,’ Abortion – Where is Sri Lanka On The Spectrum?’ , https://groundviews.org/2018/09/02/abortion-where-is-sri-lanka-on-the-spectrum/ accessed on 18th December 2018] [51: Ibid.] [52: Saira Meyler,’ Abortion – Where is Sri Lanka On The Spectrum?’ , https://groundviews.org/2018/09/02/abortion-where-is-sri-lanka-on-the-spectrum/ accessed on 18th December 2018.]
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Accordingly with the development of the new technology of medical science various methods have been initiated to abort a child from a mother’s womb. However such action will create pain for the woman physically as well as emotionally. Thus even though the medical science is well developed, it is not capable of relieving the emotional or mental breakdown faced by a woman who has undertaken an abortion. Today in the world as well as in Sri Lanka many abortions are been conducted legally as well as illegally. However majority of women will not actually give their real consent by heart to abort their child which is a known truth among the people.
Accordingly as explained there may be many medical reasons for woman to undergo abortion for their safety as well as for the betterment of the unborn child. However abortion solely depends on the consent of the mother as well as her medical condition. Further undergoing abortion through the supervision of well skilled doctors creates safety for the mother and it signifies lesser risk to her life as well.
Likewise upon all reviewed it is identified that early pregnancy abortion through medication is better than surgical abortion , as through surgical abortion not only the mother but also the unborn child will be in pain. At conclusion in my opinion each woman facing pregnancy should go through all medical services to identify the health conditions of the child and if a woman is not willing to become a mother she should always take precautions before sexual intercourse in order to avoid any unnecessary abortions.
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Likewise as medical aspects regarding abortion discussed in this chapter , in the next chapter abortion and its aspects with regards to the four main religions in Sri Lanka will be further discussed.
Chapter 03 – Religions and Aspects on Abortion
There are many religions in the world; however there are four main religions in Sri Lanka such as Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. These religions vary mainly based on their origin and various customs and practices. However the main common feature of all of these religions is that it contributes towards creation of a good human being with good qualities, good conduct, good behaviour and many more. All these religions believe that humans should protect each other and love each other as well. Accordingly all these religions have their own backgrounds and aspects with regards to the process of abortion as well as its acceptance or rejection. And these will be further elaborated through this chapter.
3.1 – Buddhism and its aspect on abortion
Buddhism, founded in the late 6th century B.C.E. by Siddhartha Gautama (the ‘Buddha’), is an important religion in most of the countries of Asia[footnoteRef:53]. Accordingly Buddhism founded by Lord Buddha has laid down various views with regards to abortions; however there is no single Buddhist view on abortion[footnoteRef:54]. As stated by James Hughes , most Western and Japanese Buddhists come away believing in the permissibility of abortion, while many other Buddhists believe abortion to be murder[footnoteRef:55]. [53: Available at https://asiasociety.org/education/origins-buddhism accessed on 20th December 2018] [54: Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/buddhistethics/abortion.shtml accessed on 20th December 2018] [55: Ibid.]
Further Buddhism believes in rebirth and teaches that individual human life begins at conception and the new being, bearing the karmic identity of a recently deceased individual, is therefore as entitled to the same moral respect as an adult human being[footnoteRef:56]. Moreover Buddhists believe that life should not be destroyed, however they also regard causing death as morally wrong only if the death is caused deliberately or by negligence[footnoteRef:57]. [56: Damien Keown, Science and Theology News, April 2004 ] [57: Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/buddhistethics/abortion.shtml accessed on 20th December 2018 ]
According to the teachings of Buddha, five conditions must be present to constitute an act of killing as follows[footnoteRef:58]; [58: Ibid.]
- The thing killed must be a living being.
- The killer must know or be aware that it is a living being.
- Must have the intention to kill it.
- There must be an effort to kill.
- The being must be killed as the result.
Here is an example of how an abortion might constitute an act of killing according to the above stated five conditions[footnoteRef:59]; [59: Ibid.]
When a baby is conceived, a living being is created and that satisfies the first condition. Although Buddhists believe that beings live in a cycle of birth death and rebirth, they regard the moment of conception as the beginning of the life of an embodied individual. After a few weeks the woman becomes aware of its existence and that meets the second condition. If she decides she wants an abortion that provides an intention to kill. When she seeks an abortion that meets the fourth condition of making an effort to kill. And finally the being is killed because of that action.
Therefore the first precept of Buddhism of not to kill has been violated and this is amount to killing a human being[footnoteRef:60]. [60: Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/buddhistethics/abortion.shtml accessed on 20th December 2018]
However if an abortion does not constitute to the above stated conditions, then it will not be considered as a killing or murder, and such good example is the child been aborted as a result of a miscarriage as there will be no intention of the mother to kill the child.
Moreover there are many instances in which Buddhism provides flexibility for abortion on real time situations which are unavoidable. The Dalai Lama had said “abortion, from a Buddhist viewpoint, is an act of killing and is negative, generally speaking. But it depends on the circumstances. If the unborn child will be retarded or if the birth will create serious problems for the parent, these are cases where there can be an exception. I think abortion should be approved or disapproved according to each circumstance”[footnoteRef:61]. [61: Dalai Lama, New York Times, 28/11/1993 ]
Likewise through the statement of Dalai Lama it is signified that acceptance of abortion depends on the circumstances and the conditions of the mother as well as the unborn child. However the intention of such procedure should be purely for the well being and should not involve any bad intention. And if there is any bad intention led to such procedure of abortion, it will result in bad karma upon the mother as well as the abortionist[footnoteRef:62]. In addition, in the Sutra of the Upasaka Precepts, the Buddha have made a statement towards the lay people as “If one destroys an embryo inside a woman by making her take poison, one is guilty of 2 sins – the act [of killing] and its associated elements”[footnoteRef:63]. Likewise Lord Buddha has clearly advised the humans on the gravity of the sin of killing a child at birth[footnoteRef:64]. [62: Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/buddhistethics/abortion.shtml accessed on 20th December 2018] [63: Available at https://essenceofbuddhism.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/what-the-buddha-said-about-abortion accessed on 20th December 2018 ] [64: Ibid.]
Moreover with regards to monks, inducing or causing an abortion is regarded as a violation of monastic rules followed by both Theravada and Vajrayana monks, further monks can be expelled for assisting a woman in procuring an abortion[footnoteRef:65].However acceptance of abortion also differs according to the group or regions in the world that follows Buddhism as well. [65: Harvey Peter, “Introduction to Buddhist Ethics” , Cambridge University Press (2000). pg. 311-20 ]
Accordingly abortion is generally regarded very negatively among ethnic Tibetan Buddhists[footnoteRef:66]. Further the attitudes and laws in Thailand are generally more favourable towards abortion than in Sri Lanka[footnoteRef:67] as Thailand has legalized abortion even been a Buddhist country[footnoteRef:68]. Furthermore abortion is viewed as negative in Burma (Myanmar), and it is allegedly also employed with some frequency to prevent out-of-wedlock births[footnoteRef:69]. However Buddhists in Japan are more tolerant of abortion than those who live elsewhere[footnoteRef:70]. [66: Harvey Peter, “Introduction to Buddhist Ethics” , Cambridge University Press (2000) pg. 328-29 ] [67: Harvey Peter, “Introduction to Buddhist Ethics” , Cambridge University Press (2000). pg. 329-32 ] [68: Available at https://www.thoughtco.com/buddhist-perspectives-on-abortion-449712 accessed on 20th December 2018] [69: Harvey Peter, “Introduction to Buddhist Ethics” , Cambridge University Press (2000). pg. 329-32 ] [70: Michael G. Barnhart,’ Buddhism and the Morality of Abortion’, https://www.urbandharma.org/udharma/abortion.html accessed on 20th December 2018]
At conclusion it is signified that according to Buddhism there is no single view on abortion and there are exceptions on acceptance of abortion as well. Furthermore the universal consensus among Buddhist ethicists is that the best approach to the abortion issue is to educate people about birth control and encourage them to use contraceptives[footnoteRef:71]. However even though several exceptions are signified through Buddhism as explained above, Buddhism strictly discourages conducting abortion as it takes away a life. [71: Available at https://www.thoughtco.com/buddhist-perspectives-on-abortion-449712 accessed on 20th December 2018 ]
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3.2 – Christianity/Catholic and its aspects on abortion
Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in the world, with more than 2 billion followers[footnoteRef:72]. The Christian faith is mainly focused on beliefs regarding the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ[footnoteRef:73]. Further with regards to Christianity the Bible plays a major role as it lies at the heart of Christian belief and practice[footnoteRef:74].And according to the beliefs the Bible consists the words of the God. Moreover all Christians are required to abide by the words in the Bible as well. [72: Available at https://www.history.com/topics/religion/history-of-christianity accessed on 21st December 2018] [73: Ibid.] [74: Available at http://christianityinview.com/thebible.html accessed on 21st December 2018]
Accordingly Christianity lay down separate aspects on abortion. Further with regards to the concept of abortion the main questions arise is when does a life begin and how does the life begin[footnoteRef:75]. [75: Available at https://activechristianity.org/abortion-a-christian-perspective accessed on 21st December 2018]
As per the principles of science there is no one exact answer for these questions, however according to the Christian belief as well as according to the words in the Bible, God is the creator of all things, and he is the source of all life as well[footnoteRef:76]. [76: Ibid.]
“When God created the first man Adam, he was not alive until God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”, when he “became a living being” [footnoteRef:77] [77: The Holy Bible , Genesis 2:7 ]
Therefore according to the Christian belief it is not a certain chemical combination that makes an unborn child lives, but the breath that God has breathed into him and nobody will know when that takes place[footnoteRef:78]. [78: Available at https://activechristianity.org/abortion-a-christian-perspective accessed on 21st December 2018]
Moreover according to the Bible God knows every individual even before the exist and he even has a purpose with each of these lives which is clearly expressed as below[footnoteRef:79] [79: Ibid.]
“For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and skilfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”[footnoteRef:80]. [80: The Holy Bible, Psalm 139:13-16. ]
Accordingly through all these stated it is signified that as per Christian view the life human being begins with God and he is the owner and the creator of it as well. Thus the next question arise is” if the life is given by God does human have a right to take it or destroy it ?”.
Exodus 21:12-14 states on murder as follow;[footnoteRef:81] [81: The Holy Bible ]
(12) Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death.
(13) However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate.
(14) But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.
As stated verses of the Bible it is signified that a person cannot take away the life of another man deliberately. And the final question is that if the life given by God cannot be taken by another deliberately, then is an abortion acceptable or not according the Catholic perspectives.
Thus with regards to abortion the Roman Catholic identify it as a grave evil[footnoteRef:82]. Accordingly Christian writers from the first-century author of the Didache to Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (‘The Gospel of Life’) have maintained that the Bible forbids abortion, just as it forbids murder[footnoteRef:83]. [82: Available at https://www.catholic.com/tract/abortion accessed on 21st December 2018] [83: Ibid.]
Moreover the Law of Moses has laid down as follows:
‘If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely, but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot”[footnoteRef:84]. [84: The Holy Bible , Exodus 21:22–24]
Accordingly this sentence of the Bible signifies that the religion ultimately contributes to protect a mother as well as her child at any instance.
Further the teachings of the Churches directly reject the conduct of abortion which is signified through below;
“You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish”[footnoteRef:85]. [85: Available at www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm accessed on 21st December 2018]
“God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes”[footnoteRef:86]. [86: Available at www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a5.htm accessed on 21st December 2018]
Accordingly through these stated teachings of the Churches it is clearly signified that Christianity strictly prohibits abortion and it also signifies that life of each and every person is equally important from the moment of conception.
However the Bible does not directly address on its perspective on abortion, yet through numerous teachings in scripture make it abundantly clear what God’s view of abortion which are signified as follows[footnoteRef:87] [87: Available at https://www.gotquestions.org/abortion-Bible.html accessed on 21st December 2018 ]
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations”[footnoteRef:88] – this signifies that God knows us even before he formed us in the womb[footnoteRef:89]. [88: The Holy Bible , Jeremiah 1:5] [89: Available at https://www.gotquestions.org/abortion-Bible.html accessed on 21st December 2018]
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them”[footnoteRef:90] – Accordingly this signifies God’s active role in our creation of us and formation in the womb[footnoteRef:91]. [90: The Holy Bible , Psalm 139:13–16 ] [91: Available at https://www.gotquestions.org/abortion-Bible.html accessed on 21st December 2018]
“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe”[footnoteRef:92] – Accordingly it is signified that the penalty—death— will be same for a person who causes death of a baby in the womb and for someone who commits murder[footnoteRef:93]. [92: The Holy Bible , Exodus 21:22–25 ] [93: Available at https://www.gotquestions.org/abortion-Bible.html accessed on 21st December 2018 ]
Likewise through all these stated verses of the Bible it clearly indicates that God considers a baby in the womb to be as human as a full-grown adult who has right to live through the love of God[footnoteRef:94]. Thus according to the Christian perspective abortion is not a matter of a woman’s right to choose but it is a matter of the life or death of a human being made in God’s image[footnoteRef:95]. [94: Ibid.] [95: Ibid.]
Thus even though abortion is a grave sin, through faith in Christ, all sins can be forgiven even a woman who has had an abortion, a man who has encouraged an abortion, or even a doctor who has performed one , can all be forgiven by faith in Jesus Christ .
At conclusion it is signified that unlike in other religions, there are no exceptions with regard to abortion according to Christianity. That is because Christians believe that the life is given by God and only he has the right to take it as well. Further they also believe that under circumstances in which there is a critical requirement for an abortion then the mother and father should pray to God to obtain wisdom to take a correct decision. However at any circumstances it is strongly believed that God will protect each and every human being , starting from the day God decide to create and beyond the day he decide to take them away. Therefore always Christians believe that God’s intention and will under any situation should be given priority than the will of the humans.
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3.3 – Islam and its aspects on abortion
The origin of Islam can be traced back to 7th century Saudi Arabia , Islam is thus the youngest of the great world religions[footnoteRef:96]. The prophet Muhammad (circa 570-632 A.D.) introduced Islam in 610 A.D. after experiencing what he claimed to be an angelic visitation[footnoteRef:97]. Muhammad dictated the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, which Muslims believe to be the pre-existent, perfect words of Allah[footnoteRef:98]. Accordingly the religion Islam which was originated through the words of Allah and the practises of prophet Muhammad have laid down various aspects on abortion , which will be scrutinized as follows; [96: Available at https://www.allaboutreligion.org/origin-of-islam.htm accessed on 21st December 2018] [97: Ibid.] [98: Ibid.]
Likewise for Muslims, the Quran and Sunnah are the main sources of Sharia law, law that is prevalent in many Muslim-majority countries in the world [footnoteRef:99]. However, notably, neither the Quran nor the Sunnah directly addresses intentional abortion[footnoteRef:100]. [99: Gilla K Shapiro,’ Abortion law in Muslim-majority countries: an overview of the Islamic discourse with policy implications’, https://academic.oup.com/heapol/article/29/4/483/653159 accessed on 21st December 2018] [100: Ibid.]
Further the Quran have state several passages which are relevant to abortion as follows;
“And likewise, to many of the polytheists their partners have made pleasing the killing of their children in order to bring about their destruction and to cover them with confusion in their religion. And if Allah had willed, they would not have done so. So leave them and that which they invent”[footnoteRef:101] – the message signified through this passage is that “do not kill, specifically children”[footnoteRef:102]. [101: The Holy Quran , 6:137 ] [102: Available at https://academic.oup.com/heapol/article/29/4/483/653159 accessed on 21st December 2018 ]
“Those will have lost who killed their children in foolishness without knowledge and prohibited what Allah had provided for them, inventing untruth about Allah. They have gone astray and were not guided”[footnoteRef:103] – the message signified through this passage is that “Do not kill, specifically children”[footnoteRef:104]. [103: The Holy Quran , 6:140 ] [104: Available at https://academic.oup.com/heapol/article/29/4/483/653159 accessed on 21st December 2018]
“Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; we will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason” [footnoteRef:105] – the message signified through this passage is that “Do not kill, specifically children out of poverty”[footnoteRef:106]. [105: The Holy Quran , 6:151] [106: Available at https://academic.oup.com/heapol/article/29/4/483/653159 accessed on 21st December 2018]
“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin”[footnoteRef:107] – the message signified through this passage is that “Do not kill, specifically children out of poverty” [footnoteRef:108] [107: The Holy Quran , 17:31] [108: Available at https://academic.oup.com/heapol/article/29/4/483/653159 accessed on 21st December 2018]
Likewise in Islam, it is forbidden (haram) to abort the fetus and if this is done, it would result in the Diyah1 having to be paid[footnoteRef:109]. The Diyah is the responsibility of the person who was in charge of carrying out the abortion[footnoteRef:110]. And this further affirmed through below stated verse of Quran; [109: Available at https://www.al-islam.org/islamic-edicts-on-family-planning/abortions accessed on 21st December 2018] [110: Ibid.]
“Whosoever has spared the life of a soul, it is as though he has spared the life of all people. Whosoever has killed a soul, it is as though he has murdered all of mankind”[footnoteRef:111] [111: The Holy Quran , 5:32]
However there are several exceptions on abortion under Islamic principles as well. Accordingly Islam allows abortion to save the life of the mother because it sees this as the ‘lesser of two evils’ and there is a general principle in Sharia (Muslim law) of choosing the lesser of two evils[footnoteRef:112]. [112: Available at www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/islamethics/abortion_1.shtml accessed on 21st December 2018]
Abortion is regarded as a lesser evil in this case because of the following stated reasons[footnoteRef:113]; [113: Ibid.]
- The mother is the ‘originator’ of the foetus[footnoteRef:114]. [114: Ibid.]
- The mother’s life is well-established[footnoteRef:115]. [115: Ibid.]
- The mother has with duties and responsibilities[footnoteRef:116]. [116: Ibid.]
- The mother is part of a family[foo