Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Review: Japanese Women, Pregnancy Loss, and Modern Rituals of Grieving

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 23, 2016

Narratives of Sorrow and Dignity: Japanese Women, Pregnancy Loss, and Modern Rituals of Grieving. By Bardwell L. Smith. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013, xvii + 410 pag-es, ISBN 978-0-19-994213-8 (cloth), $115.00.

Reviewed by Maureen L. Walsh

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Abortion in Thailand

Volume 5, 1998

Abortion in Thailand: a Feminist Perspective

Malee Lerdmaleewong, R.N., M.N
Bangkok, Thailand


Caroline Francis, B.A., M.A.
Mahidol University Bangkok, Thailand

The objectives of this paper are threefold: (1) To examine the abortion debate in Thailand, identifying issues raised by Thai feminist scholars about the status of women; (2) To overview some of the more prominent feminist arguments regarding abortion (particularly those written by Canadian and American scholars) as a tool for defining women’s reproductive rights; and (3) To focus on a study of attitudes toward abortion among health care personnel and post-induced abortion patients in Bangkok, Thailand in order to discern the degree of support (if any) for feminist abortion arguments.

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Buddhism and the Morality of Abortion

Volume 5 1995

Buddhism and the Morality of Abortion

Michael G. Barnhart
Kingsborough, CUNY

It is quite clear from a variety of sources that abortion has been severely disapproved of in the Buddhist tradition. It is also equally clear that abortion has been tolerated in Buddhist Japan and accommodated under exceptional circumstances by some modern Buddhists in the UṢ. Those sources most often cited that prohibit abortion are Theravādin and ancient. By contrast, Japanese Buddhism as well as the traditions out of which a more lenient approach emerges are more recent and Mahāyāna traditions. Buddhism itself, therefore, speaks with more than one moral voice on this issue, and furthermore, the nature of the moral debate may have important applications for similarly situated others and constitute an enlargement of the repertoire of applicable moral theories and rationales.

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Abortion, Ambiguity, and Exorcism

Volume 5, 1998

Abortion, Ambiguity, and Exorcism

William R. LaFleur
University of Pennsylvania

In Japan, persons who have had abortions but believe that a fetus has more value than merely disposable matter may act on that belief, most commonly by making a ritual apology to the spiritual aspect of the fetus, referred to as a mizuko or “child of the waters.” R. Zwi Werblowsky wrote a scathing attack on the practice of mizuko kuyô across the board, claiming that it has been nothing more than a scam from beginning to end. And now, in Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan, Helen Hardacre has given us a study which, in essence, makes much the same claim. The issues Hardacre raises are important, not just for an understanding of Japanese religion but because of what they may tell us about the state of our own debates in North America. By this I mean not only our debates about abortion but also about religion, especially as expressed in societies different from our own.

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