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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter begins with a brief outline of specific ethical issues associated with abortion, assisted reproduction, and research use of embryonic stem cells. Buddhist attitudes are explored first by reference to scriptures and then by what is known about Buddhist attitudes in modern, mostly Asian societies, especially in regard to abortion, and the degree to which this fits with but also challenges the scriptural tradition. These attitudes are then considered on their philosophical merits, focusing particularly on the key claim of traditional Buddhist embryology that conception signals the presence of all the necessary elements of moral personhood, as understood by Buddhists, thus triggering the First Precept’s prohibition on the taking of a human life. Finally, the chapter considers what a less prohibitive Buddhist stance on abortion might look like, particularly in reference to various alternatives defended in contemporary philosophical discussions.

Keywords: conceptus, embryology, foetus, gandhabba (Intermediate Being), infanticide, interests, interest view, mizuko kuyō, sentience, skandhas, Vinaya

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