Abortion in Case of Multiple Embryos: Allowed?
Home > Ask the Scholar > Health & Science > Abortion in Case of Multiple Embryos: Allowed?

Abortion in Case of Multiple Embryos: Allowed?

Questioner

Hamid

Reply Date

Feb 20, 2019

Question

Is abortion permissible if a woman has conceived an unhealthy number of embryos (for example 4,5,6 or more due to infertility treatment)? Even though her health is not in danger at the moment, the doctor is pushing her to have “selective reduction” (abortion) to 2 or 3 embryos which would give them a much greater chance at survival and being born full-term with less health risks for the mother and the children. She wants children very badly, but if she decides to keep them all, they may all die. If she waits until her life is threatened, it may be too late to perform a late-term abortion. What should she do, should she put her trust in Allah and keep them all?Assuming that her life is not in danger, is there a time limit for her to have an abortion (i.e. before 120 days or before 90 days)? Would this constitute a case of necessity overruling the prohibition and choosing the lesser of two evils?

Mufti

Answer


Abortion in Case of Multiple Embryos

Wa`alaykum As-Salaamu Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.

In The Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.


In this fatwa:

In the case of multiple embryos, it is not permissible to kill some and save some. However, if there are some unhealthy embryos that might cause death to others, then some competent doctors should decide to remove the dangerous embryo. But this must be done with great care and only in the case of actual, not perceived, danger.


In his response to the question, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, states:

According to all jurists, abortion is allowed in the situation when mother’s life is at an actual risk.

In the case of multiple embryos, it is not permissible to kill some and save some. However, if there are some unhealthy embryos that might cause death to others, then some competent doctors should decide to remove the dangerous embryo. But this must be done with great care and only in the case of actual, not perceived, danger.

It is the basic principle of the Shari`ah that when there are two harms, then one should choose the lesser harm.

In this situation, there are two harms present: either to lose all the embryos or lose some. If this is the only choice, then the dangerous and unhealthy embryos can be aborted.

In the case of actual risk to the life of the mother, there is no time limit. Before the birth anytime, abortion can be done as long as the risk is actual, not just imagined or perceived.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.




About Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi

Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi is the Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America

find out more!