Academic Programs 
      

Global Perspectives on Reproductive Justice
(ET-628)

Summer 2009

This course will focus on non-Western religious traditions and their theological teachings as related to issues of reproductive justice. Topics covered will include contraception and abortion, as well as other issues related to family planning and the new reproductive technologies becoming increasingly available world-wide (in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, sex selection, genetic testing, etc.) Faith traditions represented in the course will include an initial introduction to perspectives on these topics from Christianity and Islam, and then move to Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.

 

Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Tuesdays and Thursdays, May 26 - June 25, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Heidi Gehman
Adjunct Professor of Theology and Ethics

Contact Information:
phone: 

email:

 

Course Syllabus



Course Description: This course will focus on non-Western religious traditions and their theological/ethical teachings as related to issues of reproductive justice, especially emphasizing the more moderate and pro-choice possibilities in the religious traditions. Topics covered will include contraception and abortion, as well as other issues related to family planning and the new reproductive technologies becoming increasingly available world-wide (in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, surrogacy, sex selection, genetic testing, eugenics). Faith traditions represented in the course will include an initial introduction to perspectives on these topics from Christianity and Islam, then move to Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, and conclude with reflection on the religious traditions of Africa.

Course Objectives:

  1. To understand the moral issues, both individual and communal/contextual, surrounding choices in reproduction, including contraception and abortion, and the options now available through new reproductive technologies.
  2. To understand the contemporary theological views on these issues in Christianity and Islam.
  3. To explore non-Western religious traditions, and how they have responded theologically to the moral dilemmas of reproductive choice.

Course Requirements:

  1. Attendance and participation in class discussion on the basis of assigned reading. 30% of grade.
  2. Four short 2-3 double-spaced page reflection papers on assigned reading. 40% of grade. (See Appendix A for reflection questions.)
  3. A 10-12 double-spaced page research paper, conforming to the Seminary Guidelines for Research Papers, on the theological approach of one non-western religious tradition to one moral issue concerning reproductive choice. 30% of grade. (See Appendix B for possible topics and bibliography.)

Required Reading:
Texts (available at the Seminary Bookstore)

Bhattacharyya, Swasti. Magical Progeny, Modern Technology: A Hindu Bioethics of Assisted Reproductive Technology. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2006.

LaFleur, William R. Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

Maguire, Daniel C., ed. Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Peters, Ted. For the Love of Children: Genetic Technology and the Future of the Family. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996.

Essays (available on SonisWeb and reserve shelf in library)

Browner, Carole H. and Nancy Ann Press. “The Normalization of Prenatal Diagnostic Screening,” in Faye D. Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp, eds. Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Franklin, Sarah. “Postmodern Procreation: A Cultural Account of Assisted Reproduction,” in Faye D. Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp, eds. Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Hefner, Philip. “Genetic Frontiers: Challenges for Humanity and Our Religious Traditions,” in Zygon, vol. 42, no. 1 (March 2007), 183-191.

Modell, Stephen M. “Genetic and Reproductive Technologies in the Light of Religious
Dialogue.” Zygon, vol. 42. no. 1 (March 2007): 163-182.

Pearce, Tola Olu. “Women’s Reproductive Practices and Biomedicine: Cultural Conflicts and Transformations in Nigeria,” in Faye D. Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp, eds. Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Underwood, Meredith. “Strategies of Survival: Women, Abortion, and Popular Religion in Contemporary Japan,” in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 67/4, pp. 739-768.
Wolfe, Regina Wentzel. “A Bundle of Joy,” and Responses, in Regina Wentzel Wolfe and Christine E. Gudorf, eds. Ethics and World Religions: Cross-Cultural Case Studies. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1999, pp. 172-198.

Course Schedule: This summer course will be taught in the format of 10 three-hour classes meeting twice a week for five weeks.

Day 1: The Reproductive Issues.
Topics covered will include contraception, abortion, prenatal screening, selective abortion, reproductive technologies, surrogacy, eugenics.

Required Reading:
Browner, Carole H. and Nancy Ann Press. “The Normalization of Prenatal Diagnostic Screening,” in Faye D. Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp, eds. Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Franklin, Sarah. “Postmodern Procreation: A Cultural Account of Assisted Reproduction,” in Faye D. Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp, eds. Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Hefner, Philip. “Genetic Frontiers: Challenges for Humanity and Our Religious Traditions,” in Zygon, vol. 42, no. 1, March 2007: 183-191.

Day 2: The Political and Religious Issues.
Topics covered will include issues of personal choice versus governmental oversight, personal choice versus community interest, population growth and the environment, and religion and public discourse.

Required Reading:
“Introduction” in Maguire, Daniel C., ed. Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Modell, Stephen M. “Genetic and Reproductive Technologies in the Light of Religious Dialogue.” Zygon, vol. 42. no. 1 (March 2007): 163-182.

Day 3: Christianity, Islam, and Reproductive Choice and Technology
Topics covered will include moderate theological perspectives on contraception and abortion from Catholicism and Islam; and a Protestant perspective on the use of reproductive and genetic technology.

Required Reading:
Chapter Two, “Contraception and Abortion in Roman Catholicism,” in Maguire, Daniel C., ed. Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Chapter Four, “Family Planning, Contraception, and Abortion in Islam,” in Maguire, Daniel C., ed. Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Chapters 1-3 in Peters, Ted. For the Love of Children: Genetic Technology and the Future of the Family. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996.

Assignment Due: 2-3 page reflection paper on one of the readings, addressing the reflection questions listed in syllabus addendum.

Day 4: Buddhism, Contraception, and Abortion
Topics covered will include an introduction to Buddhism, Buddhist thought on reproductive choice, and to the religious practice of mizuko-jizō.

Required Reading:
Chapter 6: “The Right to Family Planning, Contraception, and Abortion in Thai Buddhism,” in Maguire, Daniel C., ed. Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Chapters 1-4 in LaFleur, William R. Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

Day 5: Buddhism and the Mizuko Ritual
The focus of this class is a critical look at the mizuko ritual for aborted fetuses.

Required Reading:
Chapters 9-12 and Conclusion in LaFleur, William R. Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.
Underwood, Meredith. “Strategies of Survival: Women, Abortion, and Popular Religion in Contemporary Japan.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 67/4: 739-768.

Assignment Due: 2-3 page reflection paper on one of the readings on Buddhism, addressing the reflection questions listed in syllabus addendum.

Day 6: Hinduism, Contraception and Abortion
Topics covered will include an introduction to Hinduism, and to Hindu views on contraception and abortion.

Required Reading:
Chapter 5: “The Right to Family Planning, Contraception and Abortion: The Hindu View,” in Maguire, Daniel C., ed. Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Day 7: Hinduism and Assisted Reproductive Technologies
Topics covered will include a narrative approach to Hinduism applied to the moral issues surrounding assisted reproductive technologies.

Required Reading:
Bhattacharyya, Swasti. Magical Progeny, Modern Technology: A Hindu Bioethics of Assisted Reproductive Technology. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2006.

Assignment Due: 2-3 page reflection paper on one of the readings on Hinduism, addressing the reflection questions listed in syllabus addendum.

Day 8: Chinese Religious Traditions and Family Planning
Topics covered will include the effects of the “one-child policy” in China, and Confucian and Taoist approaches to family planning.

Required Reading:
Chapter 9, “Heavenly Way and Humanly Doings,” and Chapter 10, “Excess, Lack, and Harmony,” in Maguire, Daniel C., ed. Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Wolfe, Regina Wentzel. “A Bundle of Joy,” and Responses, in Regina Wentzel Wolfe and Christine E. Gudorf, eds. Ethics and World Religions: Cross-Cultural Case Studies. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1999, pp. 172-198.

Day 9: African Religious Traditions and Family Planning
Topics covered will include the traditional practices of the Yoruba of Nigeria in family planning and abortion.

Required Reading:
Chapter 7, “Family Planning and Abortion,” in Maguire, Daniel C., ed. Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Pearce, Tola Olu. “Women’s Reproductive Practices and Biomedicine: Cultural Conflicts and Transformations in Nigeria,” in Faye D. Ginsburg and Rayna Rapp, eds. Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Assignment Due: 2-3 page reflection paper on one of the readings on Chinese or African Religions, addressing the reflection questions listed in syllabus addendum.

Day 10: Religion, social justice, and personal moral decision-making in reproductive choice.
Final reflections on how the different religious traditions reflect on moral issues that are both personal and social. What do procreation and abortion have to do with issues of population growth? Should reproductive technologies be made widely available as a matter of distributive justice? Is selective abortion a moral choice? In what circumstances? Students will present their paper topics and initial research on one moral issue from the perspective of one non-western religious tradition.

Required Reading:
Chapter 11, “Religion, State, and Population Growth,” and Chapter 12, “Reproduction and Sexuality in a Changing World,” in Maguire, Daniel C., ed. Sacred Rights: The Case for Contraception and Abortion in World Religions. Oxford University Press, 2003.


Appendix A
Short Paper Reflection Questions

Please reflect on the following questions with respect to the assigned reading:

  1. What are the cultural and political factors that impinge upon the issues of reproduction?
  2. What are the key theological concepts relevant to the moral dilemma addressed? Define the concepts and explain how they shape moral choice in this tradition.
  3. Are the moral criteria for decision-making based primarily on religious narrative, religious laws and norms, personal religious experience, or something else?
  4. Is the religious ethical perspective more concerned with individual rights and choices, or communal concerns and impact?


Appendix B
Research Paper Topics and Annotated Bibliography

Note: Please read through Hartford Seminary’s “Guidelines for Research Papers” before you begin working on your research and writing!

Assignment: Your research paper should focus on one of the non-Western religious traditions covered in the course. You should focus centrally on the theological teachings from the tradition that impinge on one or several of the reproductive choices now available. You may also attend to such issues as availability of options in the particular culture you research, any social justice or feminist dimensions of that availability, and other issues that impinge on such decisions, such as population growth, and community versus personal interests.

EDITED COLLECTIONS AND READERS

Brody, Baruch A., Lustig, B Andrew, and Engelhardt, H Tristram, eds. Theological Developments in Bioethics: 1988-1990. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer, 1991.

Chapters include the following: The Roman Catholic tradition and bioethics, J Boyle. Sounds of silence: the Latter-Day Saints and medical ethics, C Campbell. Hinduism and bioethics in India: a tradition in transition, P Desai. Buddhism and bioethics, M Fujii. The Anglican Communion and bioethics, J Granbois and D Smith. Eastern Orthodox bioethics, S Harakas. Islamic concepts and bioethics, H Hathout. Bioethics in the Lutheran tradition, P Nelson. Recent developments in medical ethics in the Methodist tradition, R Shelton. Baptist-Evangelical biomedical ethics, P Simmons. Jewish medical ethics, A Steinberg. Biomedical ethics in the Reformed tradition, K Vaux.

Coward, Harold and Daniel C. Maguire, eds. Visions of a New Earth: Religious Perspectives on Population, Consumption, and Ecology. Albany: SUNY Press, 2000.

One of the most significant topics of our time is the current eco-crisis of overpopulation, overconsumption (often called "affluenza"), and environmental degradation. In Visions of a New Earth, eight world religion scholars and two creative international economists address these linked problems by bringing religious perspective into conversation with economics. They conclude that religion and other cultural forces must be mobilized to force humankind toward an epochal birthing of bio-reverence. Traditions discussed include Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Chinese, Native American, and African religions.

Crawford, S Cromwell, ed. World religions and global ethics. New York: Paragon House, 1989.

This is a collection of essays on ethics from the perspective of the world religions. Chapters include the following: Introduction: ethics in an interdependent world. Hindu ethics for modern life, S Crawford. Ethics of the Theravada Buddhist tradition, P Premasiri. The ethics of Jainism, P Jain. Confucianism and contemporary ethical issues, C Tse. Jewish ethics: an Orthodox view, A Kasher. Blessing and curse: toward a liberal Jewish ethic, R Shapiro. Ethical consequences of the Christian way, G MacGregor. Islamic ethics, I Al Faruqi. The ethics of African religious tradition, J Ansah. Ethics in Yoruba religious tradition, S Abogunrin.

Faundes, Anibal and Jose S. Barzelatto. The Human Drama of Abortion: A Global Search for Consensus. Vanderbilt Univ. Press, 2006.

This book begins with a chapter that offers stories of women in different contexts who have opted for abortion. It proceeds with chapters that define the reproductive process, induced abortion and its consequences, why women get pregnant when they don’t want to, and why women choose to abort. See especially chapters 8 and 9, which describe religious and ethical views on abortion. It concludes with chapters that aim to find consensus on this difficult topic.

HINDUISM

Coward, Harold G., Julius J. Lipner, and Katherine K. Young, eds. Hindu Ethics: Purity, Abortion, and Euthanasia, New York: SUNY Press, 1989.

This book offers perspectives from Hindu ethics on issues of purity, abortion, and euthanasia.

Crawford, Cromwell S. “Chapter 1: The Ethics of Abortion,” in Dilemmas of Life and Death: Hindu Ethics in a North American Context. New York: State University Press of New York, 1995.

Crawford discusses the dilemma of abortion in contemporary American society from the perspective of Hindu ethics.

Crawford, S. Cromwell. Hindu Bioethics for the Twenty-First Century. SUNY Press, 2003.

Crawford breaks new ground in this provocative study of Hindu bioethics in a Western setting. He provides a new moral and philosophical perspective on fascinating and controversial bioethical issues that are routinely in the news: cloning, genetic engineering, the human genome project, reproductive technologies, the end of life, and many more.

Desai, Prakash N. Health and Medicine in the Hindu Tradition. Crossroad, 1989.

This more general book addresses issues of health and medicine from the Hindu perspective.

BUDDHISM

Florida, Robert E. “Buddhist Approaches to Abortion.” Asian Philosophy 1 (1991): 39-50.

The author presents Buddhist responses to the ethical and religious problems raised by abortion.

Green, Ronald M. “The Mizuko Kuyô Debate: An Ethical Discussion.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 66 (1999): 809-823.

Argues that scholars have brought their own ethical judgments to bear on their discussion of the practice of Mizuko Kuyô.

Hardacre, Helen. Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan. University of California Press, 1999.

Helen Hardacre provides new insights into the spiritual and cultural dimensions of abortion debates around the world in this careful examination of Mizuko kuyô--a Japanese religious ritual for aborted fetuses. Popularized during the 1970s, when religious entrepreneurs published frightening accounts of fetal wrath and spirit attacks, mizuko kuyo offers ritual atonement for women who, sometimes decades previously, chose to have abortions. As she explores the complex issues that surround this practice, Hardacre takes into account the history of Japanese attitudes toward abortion, the development of abortion rituals, the marketing of religion, and the nature of power relations of intercourse, contraception, and abortion.

LeFleur, William R. “Abortion, Ambiguity, and Exorcism.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 66 (1999): 797-808.

This is a critique of the book Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan by Helen Hardacre.

Keown, Damien. Buddhism and Bioethics. St. Martin’s Press, 1995.

An introduction to Buddhist bioethics, with a focus on the issues of abortion and euthanasia.

Keown, Damien. Buddhism and Abortion. University of Hawaii Press, 1998.

An introduction to ethical issues in the Buddhist tradition raised by abortion.

Stott, David. “Buddhadharma and Contemporary Ethics: Some Notes on the Attitude of Tibetan Buddhism to Abortion and Related Procedures.” Religion 22 (1992): 171-182.

An analysis of traditional Tibetan Buddhist views on abortion.

Underwood, Meredith. “Strategies of Survival: Women, Abortion, and Popular Religion in Contemporary Japan.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 66 (1999): 739-768.

Examines the Buddhist ritual of Mizuko kuyô, a memorial rite for miscarried and stillborn babies and aborted fetuses.

CHINESE RELIGIONS

Englehardt, T. “Bioethics in the People’s Republic of China” in R. M. Veatch, ed. Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Medical Ethics: Readings. Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 1989.

In this chapter, Englehardt argues that abortion is viewed as the second procedure of choice for unwanted pregnancies, and that fetuses are not considered persons.

Fowler, Jeaneane and Merv Fowler. Chinese Religions: Beliefs and Practices. Sussex Academic Press, 2008.

This book brings together the studies of Jeaneane Fowler in Taoism, Chinese popular religion and the broader canvas of Chinese cosmogony, and those of Merv Fowler in Confucianism, Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism and Pure Land Buddhism. It is an introduction to the religions of China, and places it in the wider context of Chinese history and philosophy, covering topics such as the theory of yin and yang, the I Ching, the Tao Te Ching.

Greenhalgh, Susan and Li Jialo, “Engendering Reproductive Policy and Practice in Peasant China: For a Feminist Demography of Reproduction,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 20, no. 3 (1995): 601-641.

This essay reports on the practices of reproductive choices, including decisions to abort female fetuses, in rural China, and the resulting imbalance of male to female births.

Lee, Yueh-Ting, et. al. “Cross-Cultural Research on Euthanasia and Abortion.” Journal of Social Issues 52:2 (Summer 1996): 131-148.

The article discusses the cultural attitudes of the Chinese, North American Eskimo, Dutch and Americans toward various forms of euthanasia. Based on cross-cultural studies of euthanasia and abortion, the article authors hypothesized that attitudes toward euthanasia and abortion were socioculturally determined. People's attitudes toward euthanasia and abortion are more complicated than simply pro or con. The reason for this attitudinal complexity is that these topics involve various issues such as cultural and religious values, politics, ethics/morality, economy, medicine, and law. The authors propose that people in societies with different sociocultural traditions will have different attitudes toward euthanasia and abortion because people's attitudes on particular issues are socioculturally determined and based.

Wei-ming, Tu. Confucian Thought: Selfhood as Creative Transformation. New York: SUNY Press, 1985.

This book outlines the view of selfhood in Confucian thought as emphasizing familial, social, and national well-being rather than self-concern.

AFRICAN RELIGION

Mbiti, John. Introduction to African Religion. New York: Heinemann, 1991.

Mbiti provides an excellent overview of native religion in Africa. The book also offers a useful and up-to-date list of books for more advanced reading, questions for each chapter, and a collection of wise sayings to illustrate oral tradition.

Olupona, Jacob. “African Religions and Global Issues” in Visions of a New Earth: Religious Perspectives on Population, Consumption, and Ecology edited by Howard Coward and Daniel C. Maguire. Albany: SUNY Press, 2000.

 

Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500  info@hartsem.edu