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Abortion for Mother’s Health Problems: Justified?

24 June, 2022
Q As-salamu `alaykum. I carelessly had unsafe sex with my wife despite knowing that she cannot afford another pregnancy due to her health problems. Although she used pills next morning both the times we had unsafe sex. However it did not succeed second time and now she is having pregnancy of around 1 to 3 weeks. Can we proceed to prevent this pregnancy? The only reason is her health which can't bear the load of pregnancy and not any other reason, e.g., fear of poverty etc. Also, how I should repent as I was careless in not taking any other reliable birth control precautions before having sex despite her mild warnings?


Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

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:

Generally speaking, abortion is haram unless there is certain danger on the mother’s health, which would be stated by reliable specialist physicians.

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In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

Abortion is haram unless there are strong reasons to resort to it because of the health of the mother-only in the initial stages of pregnancy.

So, you need to consult the gynecologist whether this pregnancy would have adverse effects on the health of your wife; if the gynecologist does say that, then you may resort to it in this early stage.

Abortion or termination of pregnancy is generally considered abominable, and therefore as haram since it involves interfering with life-process once it has started.

There are, however, differences of opinion about the permissibility of abortion in special circumstances depending on the stage or stages of pregnancy.

1) There is a unanimous consensus among scholars that abortion is considered as absolutely forbidden after twelve weeks of conception (i.e. one hundred and twelve days); this is the point when ensoulment (breathing of soul into the embryo) takes place.

To abort pregnancy from this point onwards is akin to committing infanticide, which has been condemned in the Qur’an.

Scholars, however, have made a single exception to this rule: If continuation of pregnancy and carrying it through full term proves to be risking mother’s life, abortion shall be considered as permissible.

2) Abortion after the expiry of the first forty days of conception is considered as haram except in the following exceptional cases:

1- If carrying the pregnancy to the full term exposes the mother to unbearable health problems during or after delivery;

2- If, as determined by the reliable medical practitioners, the child shall be borne with such physical and mental deformity as would deprive him/her a normal life. This decision must be based on the opinion of at least two reliable medical experts in the field.

3) While many scholars consider abortion before expiry of the first forty days of conception as haram, a number of them, however, consider it as either permissible or at least not as haram.

In conclusion, as Imam Al-Ghazali has observed, one is discouraged from tampering with the life-process once it has started; the intensity of sin, however, varies according to how advanced the pregnancy is. Thus while it may be considered as less sinful in the very early days, it is considered as absolutely haram after the ensoulment.

Coming to your specific case, if there is no medical necessity that compels you to seek an abortion; you are best advised to carry it through to full term. Meanwhile, turn earnestly and sincerely to Allah to ease your burden and pain and grant you patience and strength to surrender to His will.

Allah has certainly promised to bring relief to all those who turn to Him for assistance. “Whoever remains conscious of Allah, He will grant him/her ease/relief in his affair.” (At-Talaq 65:4)

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Whoever consistently asks forgiveness of Allah, Allah will appoint for him/her a way out of every conceivable trouble and provide for him/her sustenance in ways he or she can never foresee.” (Abu Dawuud)

Almighty Allah knows best.