The Islamic Perspective on Abortion
Almighty Allah Ta’ala says in the Quran: “Life is from a decree of my Lord.” (Surah 12 Verse 85). The above verse is self explanatory on the sanctity and significance of life. Generally every decree is from Allah Ta’ala but the honour of attribution increases its sanctity and demands its highest level of reverence. This command is mentioned in many verses of the Noble Quran – Allah Ta’ala says: “Whosoever has spared the life of a soul, it is as though he has spared the life of all people. Whosoever has killed a soul, it is as though he has murdered all of mankind.”(Surah 5 Verse 32)
The above should suffice to express the sanctity of the Rooh (life). The Noble Qur’an describes the various stages of man’s primordial development but it does not specify the exact duration of each state. In one verse of the Noble Qur’an, Almighty Allah Ta’ala says, “Man, We did create from a quintessence (of clay); then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest, firmly fixed; then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then We made out of that lump bones, and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature: So blessed be Allah, the best to create.”(Surah 23 Verses 12 and 14)
In a Hadith related by Bukhari and Muslim, our beloved Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “Verily the creation of each one of you is brought together in his mother’s belly for forty days in the form of a seed, then he is a clot of blood for a like period, then an angel is sent to him who blows the breath of life into him…”
Based on the above references, Muslim jurists have deduced that the first four months (120 days) of gestation is the crucial time period. After this the foetus is regarded as being ‘alive’ and an abortion is not permissible for any reason whatsoever; and, should an abortion be done then it would constitute murder. Thus an abortion may be performed within the 120 days period only if there is a valid Shar’ee reason. (Family Planning and Abortion, by Qaadhi Mujahidul Islam, published by the IMA of South Africa)
Upon and after 120 days, it will not be permissible to abort the child. Almighty Allah Ta’ala, the All-Knowing, the All Merciful, has endowed the foetus with life. The heights of His Infinite Wisdom cannot be reached nor comprehended. The importance of the biggest problem in the circumstances cannot be equivalent to the importance of the Rooh (life). In general, abortion is not permissible but within 120 days as stated above; however, it is permissible to abort the child in the following instances:
Rape and incest, Proven abnormalities, e.g. Anencephaly (no brain), Downs Syndrome, Trisomy, HIV positive, congenital rubella health.
If the foetal abnormalities are not proven but speculated, if there is a high risk that a woman may suffer from any of the above factors, then in the opinion of an honest, reliable and an experienced Muslim doctor, abortion may be permissible prior to the four months’ gestation. It must be stressed that these are exceptional circumstances in which an abortion is allowed. Once again, it must be emphasized that the permission granted rests on medical grounds. (Ibid)
If there is a high risk of the mother’s permanent mental well-being and if the doctor is certain (Zanne Ghaalib) that the depression, schizophrenia will be permanent and incurable.