“Different Meanings, Different Ends”
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.
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