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The orthodox view of most religions is abortion is a sin. One thing that does not make sense to me about this is pretty much everyone does not think curing cancer is a sin, even though a fetus and cancer seem equivalent in every meaningful way, at least from a religious person's point of view.

  • Both a fetus and cancer are parasites (fetuses literally use viral proteins to latch on to their mother) that will kill their host and their siblings (other cancers in cancer's case) without any sign of remorse if it seems beneficial to them. Thus, they both put others in mortal danger.

  • Both are human by descent and genetics.

  • Both can survive outside their first host and lead fulfilled lives, as demonstrated by HeLa and CTVT.

  • Since cancer is immortal, if you believe in divine intervention, there will inevitably be a time when it is healed to become at least equal to a modern human if it is kept alive. Thus, both fetuses and cancers will grow into a "full human."

There is the self-defense case for killing cancer, but since cancer may not even be aware its host is alive, just like the host is often unaware of the cancer's life, the real intentioned first attacker is the one killing the cancer. Also, if the cancer is removed from surgery it can be saved like HeLa and be kept alive.

Additionally one could make the distinction that Hinduism only specifies sin for embryos, but that would just raise the question reason for this seemingly arbitrary distinction. Also, Hinduism technically never states that killing someone outside the chatur varna is a sin, maybe for this exact reason. That still does not answer why killing an embryo is sinful when it seems to be the exact same thing as killing a cancer.

So has any guru or scripture explained the discrepancy?

What is Hinduism's view on abortion?

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    What is this question? Do you claim yourself to be intellegent via this question? Oct 21 at 14:28
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    That view you presented in question is just physical or through molecules. This won't give clear picture. From pov of mother or human here, Fetus produced out of union of Veerya, which has jivatma, and Anda (egg) has potential human life which can create new karma and also can experience some past karma. Giving birth in one of 16 Samskaras and Samskaras basically uplift human life, giving iha and paraloka Sukhas and thereby good life in next birth. cancer cell just has specific karma like inflicting some pain on some host due to some past life karma. Other than that nothing significant here.
    – The Destroyer
    Oct 21 at 16:40
  • @TheDestroyer If you have sources for this view post an answer Oct 21 at 17:08
  • @ParabrahmanJyoti - "What if we used 100% of the brain?"
    – mar
    Oct 22 at 0:28
  • @mar we will have many intellegent questions Oct 22 at 2:32
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Both a fetus and cancer are parasites

This question must be a joke. You're comparing a human baby, with a soul inside it, to a disease.

Abortion is a sin because there is a Jivatma in the fetus, which is a living human being ready to come into the world to carry out his karma and dharma. The Jivatma enters the woman at the time of conception when the man ejaculates, as shown in the panchagni vidya, which is described in the Upanishads. A fetus is also not meant to kill its mother, cancer is.

Procreation is also one of the dharmas that every human being who is capable of doing has to do, since it fulfills one of the rNas (debts) to the ancestors and pitrs. From the Vedas:

Let us lie together until a son is born

There is a hell called "put", and the son is called "putra" because he saves his ancestors from hell.

Therefore, it is a sin to abort children because those children are meant to fulfill your debts and allow you to perform your dharma. Children also offer the shraddha libations which save you from hell and give you benefits in future lives. Can cancer do that? In this way also, children are definitely not "parasites" or leeches as you put it, but are highly beneficial to you.

A cancer is a soulless, disease-causing, clump of cells meant to cause suffering and destroy humans. "Cancer" is the name given to a group of diseases that involve abnormal cell growth. If you're asking whether cells that cause cancer have souls, then no, they don't.

For example, breast cancer is caused by rapid and abnormal growth of breast cells. Based on your logic, you are saying that breast cells are humans, and that they are equivalent to babies?

But your broader question is "does each individual cell have a soul?", to which the answer is no, because scripture doesn't say it; scripture on the other hand says that humans, fetuses, animals, insects, etc. all 8.4 million species have souls. A "cell" is a building block of life, but not life itself.

Even IF individual cells have souls, then killing cells that cause cancer is allowed according to dharma shastras because one is allowed to kill a being that is causing him FATAL harm.

Also, Hinduism technically never states that killing someone outside the chatur varna is a sin, maybe for this exact reason.

You are wrong, it does:

ahimsyAt sarva-bhUtAni

Is a general Veda-vakyam quoted by Ramanujacharya in his Sri Bhashya commentary. This vakyam prohibits any form of violence/injury to ALL creatures. The exceptions to ahimsa are few, and they are listed in the dharma shastras and Vedas. They are: sacrifice, self-defense and defense of others, war, and punishment.


The fundamental problem with you and other abortion supporters is that you cannot see the difference between cells, a fetus, and a human being. And because of this ignorance, you and them commit grave sins like abortion (bhrUNa-hatya).

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  • How do you know cancer doesn't have a soul? How would it be able to live on its own without a soul? Also, this opinion is unsourced. Oct 21 at 16:12
  • @AupakaranaAbhibhaa "How do you know cancer doesn't have a soul?" - "Cancer" is the name given to a group of diseases that involve abnormal cell growth. If you're asking whether cells that cause cancer have souls, then no, they don't. But your broader question is "does each individual cell have a soul?", to which the answer is no, because scripture doesn't say it; scripture on the other hand says that humans, fetuses, animals, insects, etc. all 8.4 million species have souls. A "cell" is a building block of life, but not life itself.
    – Ikshvaku
    Oct 21 at 20:47
  • @AupakaranaAbhibhaa I also added sources, please check.
    – Ikshvaku
    Oct 21 at 20:47
  • @AupakaranaAbhibhaa For example, breast cancer is caused by rapid and abnormal growth of breast cells: mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-cancer/… | Based on your logic, you are saying that breast cells are humans, and that they are equivalent to babies? This makes no sense. Even IF individual cells have souls, then killing cells that cause cancer is allowed according to dharma shastras because one is allowed to kill a being that is causing him FATAL harm. It's best that you delete your question.
    – Ikshvaku
    Oct 21 at 20:54
  • If a human can be alive on its without a soul, you can claim any group you want does not have a soul and it is unfalsifiable e.g. Some Ethiopians think Jews are werehyenas and thus don't have human souls. Your logic is true for chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but for surgery, the cancer is left alive and unharmful. Since the cancer didn't do anything wrong as if it didn't harm its host it would die, leaving the cancer to die is killing it. Also immortal cell lines (if at least one cell not left alive after research) is also killing. gumc.georgetown.edu/gumc-stories/keeping-cells-alive Oct 22 at 10:53

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