Bioethics: Roman Catholicism vs Buddhism

Topics: Buddhism, Roman Catholic Church, Catholic Church Pages: 7 (2837 words) Published: February 19, 2011


Roman Catholicism and Buddhism are two very different religions. They vary greatly on many aspects of contemporary life issues, such as the environment, personal health and violence. The following essay will contain similarities and differences between Roman Catholicism and Buddhism, focusing on the contemporary issue of Bioethics. The ideas debated will include views on abortion, in vitro fertilization, organ transplantation, euthanasia, contraception and cloning. The Collins Australian Dictionary definition of Bioethics is the study of ethical problems arising from biological research and its applications. Roman Catholicism and Buddhism both have similar views about Abortion. The definition of Abortion reads as an operation or other procedure to terminate pregnancy before the foetus is viable. The Roman Catholic view about abortion is that it is gravely evil at all times. James 2:26 states that the body without the spirit is dead. Since from the moment of conception the human body starts to develop, it is considered to be alive and to then have spirit. This view also ties in with the fifth commandment, Thou Shalt Not Kill. In Buddhism, there is no actual rule on Abortion, but many view it as wrong. Buddhists believe that life should not be destroyed, and believe that causing death is wrong if the death is caused purposely or through carelessness. Traditional Buddhists disapprove of abortion due to the fact that it is deliberately destroying a life. Buddhists also believe that life starts at conception. Some less traditional Buddhists believe that abortion should be permissible if the child is to be severely handicapped as to cause suffering when they are born. The Dalai Lama stated in 1993 stated that abortion, from a Buddhist viewpoint, is an act of killing and is negative, generally speaking. But it depends on the circumstances. He then went on to mention the child being born handicapped or the birth putting the parents into serious problems, that the pregnancy should be stopped. The first of the eight precepts of Buddhism states that the Buddhist will abstain from being harmful to living beings. Hence, to have an abortion is breaking the 8 Precepts of Buddhism, just as it is violating the Ten Commandments in Christianity. Euthanasia is the act of killing someone painlessly, especially to relieve suffering from an incurable illness. Roman Catholics and Buddhists generally have the same view on the way euthanasia is approached in everyday life. Roman Catholics mostly believe that euthanasia is wrong. They mostly base their arguments around the teachings that life is given by God, and that the natural process of death should not be interfered with. Roman Catholics are taught to believe that all life is sacred and that life should be valued no matter to which level of pleasure and well-being the person living such a life is receiving. This means that no person should be purposefully killed, even if they wish to be euthanized. This conclusion can be supported once again with the fifth commandment, Thou Shalt Not Kill. In Buddhist tradition, there is no final answer as to whether euthanasia is morally correct or not, however most Buddhists are against involuntary euthanasia. Their views on voluntary euthanasia are less clear. Most Buddhists are against voluntary euthanasia, as it depicts that the person who is suffering is not at a peaceful state of mind and has let their physical suffering affect their mental state. A problem regarding Buddhism and euthanasia is the factor of reincarnation. In their current form, Buddhists are unaware of what their next life will bring. This means that if Buddhists were to permit euthanasia, it would be practically wrong because it would be shortening ones suffering in this life to be born into a life that could possibly be even...

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