Printed 8 April 2002
SUPPOSE YOU'RE told a loved one (husband, wife, mother, father or your child) may be in the next room. You're told that no one is in there for sure, only that he or she MAY BE in there.
Next you are asked to toss a live hand grenade into that room. Will you do it? I doubt it. But that's exactly what medical science it asking us to do when it says that under three months, the embryo may or may not be 'human'. Destroy now; ask later.
Abortion has become a word game: pro-life, pro-choice, anti-abortion, abortion foes, family planning and abortion rights. In our lifetime, we may have to bear neologisms like an anti-fetal league, pro-necrosis union, and anti-choice network. Unfortunately suicide, homicide, infanticide, genocide, and insecticides are reality, but embryocide doesn't exist in any dictionary.
This is further complicated by the notion that pregnancy terminations are part of women's rights--that each individual has the right to choose whether or not to procreate, before or after coitus.
A further complexity is that economics is often cited as a valid reason for abortion. An additional muddle is vitiated traditions which intimate that female offspring will drain a family's economy, whereas male offspring will impact positively. Whew!
Vedic culture's contribution to this debate is based on transmigration of the soul. This concept asserts that at the moment of conception there is life. As narrated in Mahabharata, Aswathama's devotion to his father did not make his attempt to destroy the embryonic Parikshit sanction able.
Whether we're killing life or potential life, Vedic culture contends that abortion is wrong and that it's an ethical issue. It may appear to be a debate between religious law and free enterprise, but in reality the issue is a value-centered, moral dilemma.
Mother earth is not overpopulated with humans and will gladly accept and nurture many new ones. If we understand our heritage rightly, there will always be enough to eat ("... I carry what they lack and preserve what they have." - Bhagavad-Gita 9.22)
In the most materialistically successful country in the world, the US, a phenomenon known as post-abortion syndrome (PAS) has plagued psychiatric patients (women who have had abortions) for decades.
Due to an increase in abortions, in Europe, France and Germany there is now a need to import thousands of immigrants from Africa and Turkey to populate factories and keep their economies running. Contrary to popular opinion, population experts tell us that if present trends continue, population growth will slow, and by the year 2020 a dangerous and precipitous decline will ensue.
(The writer is emeritus member of the ISKCON Governing Body Commission)