Thanyarat Doksone of the Associated Press reports from Bangkok, Thailand about the discovery of thousands of illegally aborted fetuses awaiting cremation at a Buddhist temple. The article remarks: "Although Thailand is home to a huge and active sex industry, many Thais are conservative on sexual matters, and Buddhist activists especially oppose liberalizing abortion laws."
But is there really a contradiction here?
I am someone who attempts to practice Buddhism. This religion like any other is divided between prolife and prochoice, and All Our Lives as an organization is open to people of all faiths and none. But Buddhist ethics do call for respecting both the unborn child's and the pregnant woman's lives.
Buddhist qualms about abortion generally have to do with reverence for life, not with sexual repression. Buddhist values call for sexual responsibility, to be sure, but modern understandings especially take such responsibility to include comprehensive sex education, the practices of contraception and safer sex, and LGBT rights.
And how is "a huge and active sex industry"–treating sex like a commodity marketed through a labor-exploitative industry–not simply the flip side of being "conservative on sexual matters"?
More to the point: many abortions worldwide, including those in Thailand, in places where abortion is legal and in places where it is not, are driven and historically have been driven by the intense shaming and ostracism forced upon single women and their children. At the same time that nonmarried women and any children they might conceive are subjected to these injustices–women's abilities to make their own choices, and informed choices, about having sex and preventing unintended pregnancies are often undermined by conservative sexual beliefs.
As a Buddhist I pray daily to relieve "suffering and the causes of suffering." I am praying for all who belonged in those small bodies– and for the women in whose larger, hopefully still living bodies these unborn children grew. For the unmentioned men who were partners to these pregnancies. For all who inflict miseries on women with "unauthorized" pregnancies, miseries so intense that abortion appears the only way out of being slut-shamed and trampled upon. For countries and cultures worldwide to learn, as quickly as possible, what precisely it means to respect the two profoundly interconnected human lives and bodies who are involved in each and every pregnancy, before, during, and ever after birth.
No doubt there are people of all faiths who pray for and nonreligious people who intend something very similar through their thoughts and deeds.