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Dalai Lama Backs Some Abortions

April 06, 1991

The Dalai Lama, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner and the self-exiled leader of Tibetan Buddhism, says that abortion and euthanasia are permissible under certain circumstances but that neither should be widely performed.

While on a national tour that brings him to UCLA today and UC Santa Barbara on Sunday, the Buddhist monk told a Houston audience this week that, "generally, abortion is not good" but that it "may be justified" in cases where the child would be born badly deformed or "the mother will suffer."

Speaking at Rice University, he said birth control should be used to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The best form of birth control is to become "a monk or a nun," he joked. "If that is not possible, then other methods are quite OK."

He said that euthanasia, or mercy killing, is a "very complicated" issue but that "from the Buddhist viewpoint generally speaking it is not good." It should only be performed, he said, where it is considered best for the "larger society," or for the patient himself.

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in India after escaping from Chinese Communist domination in 1959, is scheduled to speak to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in the Capitol Rotunda on April 18--an event which Chinese officials have protested on the grounds that it extends recognition to the 55-year-old monk as a political leader.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama will discuss "The Spiritual Quest in the Modern World" with a panel of scholars today before a sold-out audience at UCLA's Royce Hall. He will receive a peace leadership award tonight in Santa Barbara, then give a public talk at 4 p.m. Sunday at UC Santa Barbara on the theme of freedom and global responsibility.

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