Hinduism and Abortions

Fetus in Womb

by Jayaram V

Current laws in India permit abortions up to twenty weeks of pregnancy under specific conditions and situations such as when the continuation of pregnancy poses a grave risk to the mother's mental or physical healt or when the child is likely to be born with physical or mental abnormalities. In matters pertaining to abortions, women have complete right and require no one's permission. The compassionate and humanitarian laws of abortions also give scope to a lot of abuse as is evident from the fact that India leads in the number of gender based abortions and the number of mothers who die due to abortions carried out in unsafe and unregulated environment.

According to an article by Anjani Trivedi published in the Time (7/19/2013), "Each year, 19 million to 20 million women risk their lives to undergo unsafe abortions, conducted in unsanitary conditions by unqualified practitioners or practitioners who resort to traditional but rudimentary means." The article further states, " A woman in India dies every two hours because an abortion goes wrong. That seems like an extraordinary number until one visits the sorts of locations where abortions take place — where it can be seen that the possibility for something to go wrong is high indeed." The following discussion does not question the law or the right of a mother to make an informed choice about abortion, but states the moral and spiritual consequences to those who have a choice and who can exercise their freedom and discretion from the broader perspective of a soul's journey in the world and humanity's collective duty to uphold the creation and preservation of life upon earth.

Abortions from the religious perspective

Of all the people, Hindus should be more concerned about the growing number of abortions in India and elsewhere. They pose a much bigger problem than conversions because they seriously jeopardize the future of Hinduism and its continuity for several generations. If you are a Hindu who cares for your future and the future of your family, you should be even more concerned because of its negative and destructive influences upon generations of family members.

In Hinduism, abortion is not a problem of women's freedom, or social or political ideology because the fetus that is aborted can be of any gender. Essentially, it is  a moral and spiritual problem, because it directly negates not only the principles of creation and preservation of life and existence, but also God's eternal duty to ensure the order and regularity of the worlds. An abortion is a direct attack on Prakriti (Nature) or Mother Goddess who is responsible for the unfolding of life and evolution of forms upon earth according to the karma of beings and the will of God.

The Dharmashastras (law books) clearly affirm that killing a human embryo (bhruna-hatya) is a mortal sin equal to the killing of a Brahmana. It is fraught with grave consequences for the perpetrators since it interferes with the orderly progression of the world and the liberation of souls. People whose morality and conscience are clouded by secular beliefs and worldliness may not appreciate the argument, but the following are a few important reasons why it is dangerous for your soul as well as your spiritual future to support a cause such as this without considering its moral and spiritual ramifications.

1. Abortions interfere with the rebirth of souls and thereby delay their spiritual progress and the cleansing of their karmas. Therefore, it has both physical and spiritual consequences not only for those who indulge in it but also those who facilitate it and turn a blind eye. An abortion is not just about removing an embryo and freeing a woman from her natural, social or family obligation to rear a child. It is more than killing a child and solving a social or economic problem because it is an attack against God's will to manifest life upon earth and ensure the orderly progression of the world. Imagine if you were not born, what would have happened to your parents, grandparents, your spouse, your children, their children, and so on. Each abortion takes life in a new direction and interferes with the destiny of innumerable individuals.

2. Abortions make the soul's choice of parents very complicated. The act of abortion becomes a grave sin and a complicated problem in Hinduism because of its belief in karma and rebirth. At the time of rebirth, souls cannot just choose any parent and enter any womb. Their choice of parents is limited by their own karmas. Parents must deserve their children and children must deserve their parents. Past karmas, dominant desires, and latent impressions (samskaras) act as the catalysts in the process and synchronize the events preceding the rebirth of each soul. Abortions thus add another layer of complexity to the problem of choosing right parents and make the rebirth of souls even more difficult.

3. Abortions interrupt the journey of souls in the mortal world. According to Hindu beliefs, willful abortion of even a day old embryo is unacceptable because souls enter the embryos from inception. The souls' journey begins when they descend from the ancestral heaven to the earth for their rebirth. First, they enter the bodies of their would be fathers. At that time, they may not even know who will be their mothers. They stay in the semen of their fathers and journey into their mothers' wombs during sexual union. In the womb, their mothers nourish them until they are born. Thus, both parents have an important role and responsibility in the rebirth of the souls who choose them as their parents.

4. Abortions interfere with the spiritual destiny of ancestors. Every Hindu has obligatory duties towards not only their families and children but also their ancestors. The scriptures suggest that deceased parents, grandparents, and ancestors will mostly  choose their own descendants as their parents for their rebirth. Abortions will interfere with that process and cause of a lot of grief and inconvenience to them, which is not good for any family because aggrieved ancestors can torment them and cause them numerous problems.

Thus, the problem of abortions in Hinduism should be viewed from a much broader perspective. It is more than a humanitarian problem or a gender issue. The duty of  Hindu parents towards their children begins even before inception since Hinduism believes in karma and rebirth. Parents are the doorways through which souls enter the world to continue their journey. Each human being is a link in a long chain of births and rebirths. If any chain is broken for any reason, it will have serious repercussions for innumerable souls who would be part of that chain and who would have got a chance to square off their karmas.

An abortion is not an isolated event. It has a ripple effect upon the destinies of countless beings until the end of times. Many lives are linked to it. Even marriages are effected by it since marriages are said to be between couples whose destinies are intertwined.  Hence, the karmic consequences of aborting a fetus will be too complex and numerous to be ignored. A devout Hindu should exercise his discretion and not be deluded by the modern secular ideas about willful  abortion that disregard the karmic and spiritual consequences of such acts upon those who perpetrate it and support it, and those who suffer from it.

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