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Question: Some Buddhist teachers say those who engage in abortion, which is the killing of a human life, creates negative karma that is so immense that unless they repent and have remedial action in time, they will be reborn in hell.  Some other teachers say that if an abortion is to ‘not’ let a very sick or handicapped baby suffer, it will not create in negative karma. Who is right?

Answer: Some have positive intentions, yet leading to negative actions. However, whether an action is considered positive or negative is based on its intention as karma is created based on intention (which creates the action). It is true that those who abort out of ‘good’ intentions usually think they are relieving the baby of suffering. In this sense, there is less negative karma. But it is hard to justify that there will be absolutely no negative karma as it is still the intentional taking of a precious human life. The thought that one might be making a grave mistake should had also surfaced in one’s mind, though it was dismissed.

If one knows that the karma of the baby should be given its natural run through birth with extra care and concern, and yet chooses the ‘easy way out’ and aborts to avoid potential inconvenience, there is definitely negative karma created. The truth is, if a baby might be born sick or handicapped, and is aborted, and if the baby’s negative karma in that aspect of illness or deformity is not yet exhausted, he or she will still be reborn elsewhere sick or handicapped. This is why it is much more compassionate, especially if one already has the karmic affinity, to do one’s best to take care of the child, and to bridge the child to the Dharma, so as help the child to transform his or her karma for the better.

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