Is abortion ever acceptable?

A soul loses its chance for freedom

Arvind Khetia, engineer and Hindu: In Hinduism, a human life is considered a great blessing. Only through human life, with the help of one’s free will, can one choose to do good karma (actions) and attain the ultimate goal of human life, moksha (the ultimate freedom), and be united with the Divine.

Also, there is a deep awareness of the universal law of karma that states that every situation is a result of an unending chain of cause and effect.

Sooner or later, good or bad actions will invariably bring corresponding results. Thus, Hinduism emphasizes responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions.

Therefore, the Hindu tradition advocates for moral and ethical behavior in all aspects of one’s life to cultivate spiritual awareness and respect for all life, as they are the manifestation of the same ultimate reality (Brahman).

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The act of abortion deprives a soul of its chance to be born as a human, and consequently it loses its opportunity to continue its progress toward freedom.

Thus, an act of abortion is not seen as an appropriate choice unless there are overriding reasons. One such reason is that one must always be mindful of the mother’s health and safety, as this always takes priority.

With spiritual awareness, one can choose the right action in any given situation and abide by one’s responsibilities (Dharma).

Allah made life sacred

Mohamed Kohia, Rockhurst University faculty, Muslim: In Islam, human life is considered sacred. It is completely prohibited to kill any human being (except in case of self-defense or as capital punishment). The Quran clearly says: “Take not life which Allah has made sacred” (6:151).

As to whether abortion is a form of killing, the Quran does not make explicit statements.

Only Surah 17:31 warns believers in general: “Kill not your children for fear of want, We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin.”

Islam’s approach to the issue of birth control and abortion is very balanced. It allows women to prevent pregnancy (for a valid reason) but forbids them to terminate it except in certain cases: if there is a clear threat to the life of the mother with continuation of pregnancy; if there is complete assurance that the fetus will have obvious mental or physical defects after birth; or in cases of rape, but most Muslim scholars hold that the child of rape is a legitimate child, and thus it would be sinful to kill this child.

There are differences among Muslim scholars as to permissibility and timing of abortion.

Some Muslims argue that abortion is permissible if the fetus is younger than 4 months (120 days). They quote a statement from the Prophet(s) that refers to a human being starting as a fertilized ovum in the uterus of the mother for 40 days, then it grows into a clot for the same period, then into a morsel of flesh for the same period.

Assuming the quotation to be authentic, some scholars misunderstand the intent.

Aborting a fetus even before 120 days is still killing a living entity, and Muslim jurists have agreed unanimously that after the fetus is completely formed and has been given a soul, abortion is unlawful.

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