THE articles in your paper headed "Is
Suicide a Crime?" have suggested to my mind to ask another
question, "Is Fticide a crime?" Not that
I personally have any serious doubts about the unlawfulness of
such an act; but the custom prevails to such an extent
in the United States that there are comparatively only few persons
who can see any wrong in it. Medicines for this purpose
are openly advertised and sold; in "respectable families"
the ceremony is regularly performed every year, and the
family physician who should presume to refuse to undertake the
job, would be peremptorily dismissed, to be replaced
by a more accommodating one.
I have conversed with physicians, who have no more conscientious
scruples to produce an abortion, than to administer a physic;
on the other hand there are certain tracts from orthodox channels
published against this practice; but they are mostly so
overdrawn in describing the "fearful consequences,"
as to lose their power over the ordinary reader by virtue of their
It must be confessed that there are certain circumstances under
which it might appear that it would be the best thing as well
for the child that is to be born as for the community at large,
that its coming should be prevented. For instance,
in a case where the mother earnestly desires the destruction of
the child, her desire will probably influence the formation
of the character of the child and render him in his days of maturity
a murderer, a jailbird, or a being for whom it would
have been better "if he never had been born."
But if fticide is justifiable, would it then not
be still better to kill the child after it is born, as
then there would be no danger to the mother; and if it
is justifiable to kill children before or after they are born
then the next question arises: "At what age and under
what circumstances is murder justifiable?"
As the above is a question of vast importance for thousands of
people, I should be thankful to see it treated from the
An "M.D." F.T.S.
Editor's Note.--Theosophy in general answers:
"At no age as under no circumstance whatever is a murder
justifiable!" and occult Theosophy adds:--"yet
it is neither from the stand-point of law, nor from any
argument drawn from one or another orthodox ism that the
warning voice is sent forth against the immoral and dangerous
practice, but rather because in occult philosophy both
physiology and psychology show its disastrous consequence."
In the present case, the argument does not deal with the
causes but with the effects produced. Our philosophy goes
so far as to say that, if the Penal Code of most countries
punishes attempts at suicide, it ought, if at all
consistent with itself, to doubly punish fticide
as an attempt to double suicide. For, indeed,
when even successful and the mother does not die just then, it still shortens her life on earth to prolong it with dreary
percentage in Kama-loka, the intermediate sphere between
the earth and the region of rest, a place which is no "St.
Patrick's purgatory," but a fact, and a necessary
halting place in the evolution of the degree of life. The
crime committed lies precisely in the willful and sinful destruction
of life, and interference with the operations of nature,
hence--with KARMA--that of the mother and
the would-be future human being. The sin is not regarded
by the occultists as one of a religious character,--for,
indeed, there is no more of spirit and soul, for
the matter of that, in a ftus or even in a child
before it arrives at self-consciousness, than there is
in any other small animal,--for we deny the absence of
soul in either mineral, plant or beast, and believe
but in the difference of degree. But fticide is a
crime against nature. Of course the skeptic of whatever
class will sneer at our notions and call them absurd superstitions
and "unscientific twaddle." But we do not write
for skeptics. We have been asked to give the views of Theosophy
(or rather of occult philosophy) upon the subject, and
we answer the query as far as we know.
Theosophist, August, 1883