What does Sikhism teach about abortion?

An abortion is when a pregnancy is ended by the deliberate removal of the foetus from the womb so that it does not result in the birth of a child.

The Sikh Gurus teach that human life is a gift that should not be wasted, with the ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur stating:

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You have obtained the priceless jewel of this human life; why are you uselessly wasting it?Guru Granth Sahib page 218

This focus on the value of human life suggests that the Gurus would not condone abortion being carried out for non-serious reasons. As there is no explicit ban on contraception, it would be better to avoid conception completely, rather than have an abortion at a later date.

Abortion may be accepted by some Sikhs in circumstances such as rape, or to save the mother's life.

The Gurus teach that every person carries the same divine spark. As such, life must be protected:

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The Divine Light is within everyone; You are that Light.Guru Granth Sahib page 13

Sikhs would not view it as their responsibility to decide whether an unborn child lives or not, as this would be out of their hands and would depend on the course of nature. Many would view abortion as being immoral as it would be destroying the potential of life for the child.

What does this mean in practice?

Sikhs look to the Guru Granth Sahib to determine the rightness or wrongness of any moral issue, such as abortion. Sikhism teaches that life is sacred, and that taking a life is wrong. Therefore, abortion is generally seen as wrong.

Exceptions include when the life or health of the mother has been judged by a competent medical practitioner to be in danger, or when the unborn child is known to be unable to survive beyond birth. In all other cases, eg social or economic factors, abortion for most Sikhs is considered to be wrong. Adoption is seen as a very realistic alternative option.