Chapter Thirty-four

ABORTIONS

 

RABBI: One of the ten great commandments delivered by Moses was "Do not commit murder." [Torah, Exodus, Yithro, 20:13] Although there is virtually no argument about the meaning of this commandment in reference to killing people, there is much controversy in the world about its application regarding the abortion issue. Some people do not consider the child in the womb as a living person until the seventh month of pregnancy. They argue that if there is no movement, it is only a lifeless lump of flesh and can be removed just like a cancer.
DEVOTEE: There is life from the first moment of conception, as immediately the cells begin dividing and expanding. In the womb of a human mother, the fetus at any stage of growth is already a human being. If that fetus is killed, it is the same as murdering an adult.
The Vedas warn us that those who abort their own children, perform the abortion, facilitate it or even support them are thoroughly condemned. They will themselves enter the wombs of other mothers and be aborted again and again.
RABBI: Many people argue in favor of abortions because they facilitate their desire for unrestricted sex. They want sex without responsibility, but that is not pleasing to God. That will not help one to return to the Garden of Eden, the kingdom of God. The Torah's laws are meant to guide man in practical day to day life so that he can ultimately qualify himself to realize God.
DEVOTEE: Materialists think that sex is required to be happy. They have no idea that one can learn to be satisfied without sex life. If a person, man or woman, had no interest in sex then abortions would be unnecessary. They are unable to do that. Therefore, in the Vedas it is said, adänta-gobhir viçatäà tamisram. "By nonrestricted sense enjoyment they are gradually going down to the lower species of life." [Bhäg. 7.5.30] We were recently discussing that there are millions of species of life in the universe, but why so many? One reason is to facilitate the variegated, animalistic desires of those persons who are addicted to sex enjoyment. The only activities of the animals are eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. They have no interest in, or ability to understand religious subject matter. If we waste our human birth engaging only in animal propensities, we will be forced to take birth among those species. The Vedic culture teaches one to become detached from all kinds of sense desires while cultivating God consciousness, and to feel very satisfied in that way. Thus, the abortion problem is merely one of the symptoms of the world's spiritual starvation, proving that people need to be educated in the science of God.
RABBI: Many people, not wanting to take responsibility for family life nor to experience guilt for having an abortion, utilize contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. Once a person in my congregation told me confidentially that although he was married, he was not at all prepared to accept the responsibility for raising a family proportionate to the number of children who would likely result from his indulgences with his wife. He asked me which was better, to prevent pregnancy with contraceptives or to abort the unwanted children? I told him that of the two, the use of contraceptives seemed to be the lesser of two evils. Personally, I was not very satisfied with my advice. What do you think?

DEVOTEE: According to the Vedic literatures, there is practically no difference. First, we must understand why it is wrong to kill the child in the womb. In one sense, it is the same reason that we do not kill other living entities. As we discussed recently, the soul undergoes a spiritual evolution from one species of life to another, from one human body to another until he fully realizes his eternal loving relationship with God. Whenever you kill a person, an animal, or the child in the womb, you are interrupting his progress on the spiritual path. You are detaining him from perfecting his life though self-realization. Through the act of sex, a man and woman are in effect inviting a soul to take shelter of the womb to continue its' progress toward realizing God. By the use of contraceptives, a person is actually rendering the womb unfit for that soul, thus interfering with his progress. Therefore, both abortions and the use of contraceptives are sinful because they are obstacles on the soul's journey back to God. If I was in your position, I would have told him that both choices are totally sinful because either one would interfere with a soul's spiritual progress. I would have tried to convince him and his wife to seriously cultivate God consciousness and experience the higher taste of spiritual happiness. By experiencing that higher taste, they would automatically be able to control their sexual desires and avoid any consideration of sinful alternatives.

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