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Mourning the Unborn DeadA Buddhist Ritual Comes to America$
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Jeff Wilson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195371932

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195371932.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

“Different Meanings, Different Ends”

Chapter:
(p.3) Introduction
Source:
Mourning the Unborn Dead
Author(s):

Jeff Wilson (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195371932.003.0001

This chapter describes the situation of mizuko kuyō in Japan, the country of its origin. A common but also contested rite, mizuko kuyō has been used by Japanese male Buddhist priests as a way to condemn promiscuous women and make money, while women have sought relief from symptoms believed to originate in spirit attacks and to reestablish ties broken by abortion. Despite widespread disapproval of abortion in Japan, it remains a common practice, and there are no serious movements to outlaw it. This chapter also provides a brief history of the relationship of abortion and religion in America. Abortion was initially outlawed for medical, rather than religious, reasons, but since its re-legalization in 1973, abortion has become a key issue of American religion and politics. Finally, methods used in this study are discussed.

Keywords:   abortion in America, abortion and religion, Japanese Buddhism, mizuko kuyō, ritual

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