Islam’s approach to the issue of birth control and abortion is very balanced. It allows women to prevent pregnancy but forbids them to terminate it. Abortion after the implantation of the fertilized ovum in the womb is absolutely forbidden and is considered a crime against the law of God, as well as the foetus.
From the Islamic point of view, the illegitimacy of aborting a foetus does not depend on the issue of whether the foetus has the status of a human being or not. Although Islam does not recognize the foetus as a human being, it still gives to it the right of a possible life.
Abortion is normally considered for various reasons. These will be discussed, and the Islamic viewpoint of each reason considered:
1. It is a choice between a child and a career and/or luxurious life-style
The above reason reflects the selfish nature of this materialistic society, and is not considered a justifiable or acceptable reason for abortion. Alla-h (swt) says:
“You shall not kill your children due to penury – We will provide for you and for them.” 74
“Do not kill your children for the fear of penury: We will provide for them and for you. Killing them is indeed a great iniquity.” 75
Indeed, has not Alla-h (swt) told us:
“We task no soul except according to its capacity.” 76
2. A child is conceived illegitimately
This is by-product of illicit sexual relations which Islam strongly condemns, but is not considered an acceptable justification for aborting the foetus.
3. A child is an undesirable gender
This reason is no less evil and cruel than the pre-Islamic ‘Arab custom of burying baby girls alive, and is also not an acceptable justification for an abortion.
4. A child is a product of rape
When a woman is raped, she should use the morning after pill or RU486 immediately after the sexual assault in order to prevent the possible implantation of a fertilized ovum. However, once pregnancy is established, then Islam does not allow abortion. In such cases, Islam cannot justify the abortion of a child for the crime of the father. As for the reputation of the woman, Islam strongly condemns the people who look down upon the rape victim; instead of reviling her, they should be sympathetic to her.
5. A child has a defect
With the use of ultrasounds and other such recent technology, it is possible to know whether or not a child has a defect long before it is born. Some people justify the abortion of a defective foetus. However, the present mujtahids do not allow such abortions, even if the deformities are so serious that they are untreatable after birth, and the child may not survive after birth except for a short while and in pain. The parents should pray and hope for a normal and healthy child. Indeed, there are always chances that the foetus is developed contrary medical prediction. This chance, however slim and negligible, denies us the right to terminate a life.
6. The pregnancy is dangerous to the woman
The only permissible instance of abortion is if the foetus is less than four months (before the soul enters into it) and doctors declare with reasonable certainty that the continuation of pregnancy will harm her, or cause her difficulty to a degree that is not normally tolerable.
It is not possible to abort the foetus after four months irrespective of the reason for abortion.
74 Su-rat al-An‘a-m, Verse 151
75 Su-rat al-Isra, Verse 31
76 Su-rat al-An‘a-m, Verse 152
Adapted from the book: "From Marriage to Parenthood; The Heavenly Path" by: "Abbas and Shahin Merali"
Share this article