Is it permissible to have an abortion if a religious doctor says that the baby will be born as a disabled child?
What is the Islamic decree about having an abortion?
Submitted by on Mon, 02/01/2017 - 12:16
Dear Brother / Sister,
This is a very serious issue and it is very difficult to make a decision. However, human life is more important than anything else. Suppose that you have just had a baby and they have told you that the baby is mentally disabled. What would you do? Would you say, "Kill the baby immediately"? Probably you would not.
- According to our religion, after a fetus comes to life in the uterus, it cannot be removed unless the life of the mother is in danger; otherwise, it is regarded as a murder. (see Ghazali, Ihya, 2/47; W. Zuhayli, al-Fiqhu’l-Islami, III/556-558).
- A fatwa issued by the scholars of al-Azhar University regarding the issue is as follows:
“It is unanimously agreed by Islamic scholars that it is haram to abort a fetus that comes to life in the uterus unless the life of the mother is in danger. For, the fetus has all of the rights that a person has when life is blown into it. The decree of the verses that prohibit killing a person is also valid for a fetus.That the life of the mother is in danger can be understood by a report written by specialists stating that her life will be endangered if the fetus continues to remain in the uterus. The life of the mother is preferred to the life of the fetus in accordance with the principle ‘a greater harm can be removed by a lesser harm’.” (see Fatawa’l-Azhar, 2/317-318-Shamila).
- It is a bad deed to kill a baby due to the fear of poverty; it is similarly bad to kill a fetus in the uterus fearing that it will be born as a disabled child and it will suffer and cause others to suffer in the world. The following is stated in the Quran:
"Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you: verily the killing of them is a great sin.” (al-Isra, 17/31)
The killing mentioned in the verse has a general scope; it can include killing the fetus in the uterus. For, a child is a child both in the world and in the uterus.
The owner of the child and us is Allah. Our duty is to maintain His trust. We cannot know which one will be better. Regarding these vital issues, the final word belongs to the doctors diagnosing that the child will be disabled and the parents. However, we can summarize the issues related to the question as follows:
1. The fiqh scholars who study the issue of birth control do not regard it permissible to have an abortion due to the possibility of the baby being born disabled.A child who was born disabled cannot be killed due to his disability; similarly, a fetus that started to live in the uterus cannot be killed (removed) due to the possibility of being born disabled. As a matter of fact, a fetus that is thought to be disabled is sometimes born as a healthy and robust baby. Or, the disability might not be so bad as to make his life very difficult; the child may survive with a minor disability. It is obvious that the decision to be made about to have an abortion due to this reason needs to be made very carefully by taking the issues mentioned above into consideration.
2. The fetus can be removed only when the life of the mother is in danger. The following is stated regarding the issue: The life of the fetus in the uterus is not complete yet. However, the life of the mother is complete. A complete (full) life cannot be sacrificed for an incomplete life. In that case, the fetus, which has an incomplete life, can be removed for the life of the mother who is in danger. This is a legitimate excuse. The Islamic scholars agree on this.
On the other hand, the science of medicine can sometimes make mistakes. We see some examples of it. The following incident narrated by Ahmed Nuri, who is a scholar, is a good example:
"The voice on the other side of the line sounded like seeking help. It was obvious that she was in trouble.
– Thank God I have found you at last. I am about to sign something that that will make me suffer a pang of conscience throughout my life. Please help me.
First, I was surprised by hearing such an issue of signature. What kind of signature was it?
– If the signature you are about to put is related to checks, bonds, etc, I do not have much knowledge about them.
She heaved a sigh:
– I wish it were about a signature related to checks or bonds. It is worse than checks or bonds. It is about the death of a person. More precisely, the signature I am about to put is about allowing my baby to be killed. I was astonished:
– Please explain it and free me from this astonishment. Does somebody want you to kill your child?
– Yes, exactly. Then, she made the following explanation:
– I am pregnant and have been examined for a while. When I was examined the last time, the doctors told me that my baby would probably be born disabled. They said there was a slight chance of my baby being healthy. They advised me to have an abortion as soon as possible. I have been in depression for days. Shall I sign the paper given to me and have an abortion? Or, shall I allow the birth of my baby even if it will be a disabled child?
I suffer from depression because I fear that I will make a wrong decision and suffer a pang of conscience. Is it not a big incident that cannot be compared tochecks or bonds? Please show me a way out. Shall I have my baby removed because it will be probably be born disabled or give birth to a disabled child?
– This is an issue between you and your doctors. They know the gravity of the issue better. We can only convey you the information written in the relevant religious books. We cannot do anything else.
– That is what I want. What is the decree about a baby that is expected to be born disabled in the religious books? Is it permissible to have an abortion if a child is to be born disabled?
– Hayreddin Karaman, a religious scholar, writes the following in his book called "Hayatımızdaki İslam": ”A fetus cannot be removed due to the possibility of being born disabled, mentally retarded or diseased.” It is understood that the right to life of a child cannot be removed even if he is disabled. However, if he is born dead or if he dies after being born, nobody will be held responsible.
– Do you want to tell me that I should not have an abortion?
– I do not say anything. It is up to you to decide. You are supposed to sign the document. I just wanted to convey you the information that I have.
She thanked me and hung up the phone. After quite a long while, my telephone rang. The voice on the other side of the line was breathless:
– I have been praying for you for two days. You saved me from a mistake due to which I would suffer a pang of conscience throughout my life.
– Sorry, I have not recognized you.
– Do you remember the woman who wanted to have an abortion due to the possibility of giving birth to a disabled child? That is me. You told me that the right to life of a child could not be removed even if he was disabled. Thanks to the courage you gave me, I gave up the idea and started to wait for the outcome by praying Allah. I am in hospital now. I want to share my happiness. Thank God! He granted me a healthy boy. The doctors had told me that there was a slim chance of giving birth to a healthy child. That slim chance took place. I pray for you due to the courage you gave me.
– I hope all of the births with the possibility of having disabled children will end up like yours.
– I say amin to your prayer. May Lord give happiness to all of the people like me!
This was an incident about giving birth to a disabled child. I shared it with you. You may have agreed with me or not. It is up to you to decide and to prefer.
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