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Abortion In Ancient Hinduism

Garbhasrava means abortion in ancient Hinduism. The term garbha refers to a fetus and embryo. Garbhavicyutih refers to abortion in the beginning of pregnancy and grabhasrava refers to abortion or miscarriage. Garbhasakhu refers to a king of instrument used for extracting the dead fetus.

Hindu tradition holds begetting progeny as the duty of a grihastha. It is a conventional belief that motherhood confers status on a woman. A woman incapable of conceiving was looked upon as unfortunate and inauspicious. Hence abortion was considered a very serious offense (atipatakadosha).

In ancient Hinduism, a married woman could be barred from her ritual duties and her consequent authority in the home if she resorted to abortion.

Instances of abortion have been rarely registered in the Hindu tradition.

Hindu society has objected to abortion on moral, religious, ethical and legal grounds. Induced abortion has been looked down upon and even forbidden by Dharmashastras by listing it along with unforgivable and serious sins.

There are many stories in Hindu tradition in which women who have conceived outside marriage not aborting but giving birth. This includes the birth of Shakuntala and Karna in the Mahabharata and numerous other births by Apsaras.