Should we allow abortion on the grounds of disability?

Devotee: I have a question concerning women over thirty-five. They must have a blood test to see if their child is healthy or not. I think it is a great worry for the parents about what they should do if their child isn’t healthy.

Guru: It is valuable to get professional advice. However, if you get that professional advice and if a person realises doctors have got a child that may cause them problems because the child is not wholly normal then the choice is thrown into the hands of the mother and [the doctors will] say, “Do you want this child or not? Do you want to abort it?”  If I was the mother I would say, “No, I want the child because it is an opportunity to spend time and look after this child.” 

Life is sacred

I think we are now on the threshold of playing God and this is what bothers me very much. Yes, you’ve got every modern technique to discover if the pregnancy is dodgy but there’s a moral question, and not only a moral question. Are we going to go on changing the rules of morality to accommodate the financial pressures of how a child is to be looked after?

I would not want a child’s life terminated, I have a responsibility to God. I would never advise anybody to terminate a pregnancy because a child may be born deformed.

I can’t at any level agree so there may be an element of conflict between myself and professional doctors, they may say it could be dangerous to the mother. These are the things often talked about. Also bringing up the child and the pressures in society, schooling, and other problems. A multitude of things is thrown in our direction.

But I never will [agree to that], I use the word ‘never’ very, very clearly. I have a moral obligation and a feeling within myself that I have no authority to concede to the termination of life. No way, I would never, never agree to that. I am answerable to life, to God.

This is karmic. Karmic means the genes and so many things are playing a part in the birth of a child that is deformed and we are given an opportunity in life to serve that child.

There have been many occasions when such children have been born, and I have gone to the help of the parents. I remember one particular child that was born deformed and the mother said, “Guru, what am I to do with this child? (some recording missing) I said, “I will help you and the child.”

The doctors had to operate on and restructure some of the organs of the body because they were disfigured. I told that mother, “I will give every power and grace of the divine to help you to restructure this child and that I did. From the moment I went and saw that child I gave materialised vibhuti and I helped the child and now the child is a grown-up young lady. I promise you, when I see that child, I am so joyful. The joy that child gives her mother, even though she’s not ‘one hundred per cent perfect’ is amazing. She is so happy and I can look back on those days and say, “I did not make a mistake, I was right when I stood by those parents.”

But it’s an amazing problem.

There are many conflicts in the minds of people and I don’t simplify this problem. Nor is it easy for parents who haven’t got the funds to deal with the problem. But more than funds, opportunities and how we are going to handle a situation, it’s life. Life is sacred.

I have no right to advise anybody to take that life, any life. I know it’s very difficult, and you may say, “Well you are not the one who is having this baby and you are not the one who is going to look after it.” But I have had the opportunity to do all I can to care for a child like that. I remember, when I first saw that child, her mother looked at her and said, “You want me to keep this child?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “So what are you going to do about it?” I said, “I’ll tell you what I am going to do, I will give you materialised holy ash.”

She said, “But how can that happen?” I said, “You wait. I will make sure the doctors will find every way and assistance from the divine to put this child’s problems right,” and that’s exactly what happened.

We have a duty, not just to give you a personal bland reply and say keep the child, but we must participate and make sure that that child is helped all the way along until it gets on its feet and is put in a special school. Everything went so well, and I promise you, one day I hope I can bring her [to Skandavale]. She is a grown-up girl now, she is about fourteen years old and she is quite a young lady, a very, very, very self-assured young lady.

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