Abortion due to fetal deformities

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Abortion due to fetal deformities


eight: 150%; font-size: 10pt">We reviewed request no. 2439 for the year 2003 which includes the following:

A woman is at the end of her pregnancy. Numerous medical tests have revealed that she is pregnant with twins joined at the head and suffering from other deformities. Based on this information, is it permissible for her to terminate this pregnancy?


The issue of abortion in the Hanafi school of jurisprudence
The opinion of Hanafi scholars as expressed by Ibn 'Abdin in the commentary on Rad Al-Muhtar (vol. 2, p. 411) and by al-Kamal Ibn al-Humam in Fath Al-Qadir (vol. 2, p. 495) is that it is permissible to conduct an abortion, even without the consent of the husband, during the first four months of pregnancy i.e. before ensoulment. It is mentioned in both books that Al-Qadi Khan said in his Fatawa Al-Khaniya under the chapter of disliked matters: "I do not maintain its permissibility. It is analogous to a muhrim [a person in a state of pilgrim sanctity] breaking the egg of a bird before it hatches. [Such a person] is held liable for breaking the egg since it would have produced a hatchling. [Similarly], a pregnant woman is blameworthy if she terminates her pregnancy without an excuse." [An example of] a valid excuse mentioned in Rad Al-Muhtar and Fath Al-Qadir is when a woman cannot nurse her infant because she ceased to lactate [due to a subsequent pregnancy] and the father does not have the means to hire a wet nurse and fears for his infant's life."

Excuses permitting abortion during the first four months
It is permissible for a woman to terminate her pregnancy if she is undernourished and weak and unable to endure the hardships of pregnancy especially if she is among those who deliver by caesarian section. This and other similar excuses are considered legal excuses for abortion before ensoulment that do not entail any sin or legal consequences.

But is abortion permissible? It is permissible provided the fetus has not begun to take on the first signs of human form. Hanafi scholars, have, on more than one occasion, mentioned that this occurs after 120 days, which in their school, corresponds to ensoulment. However, some of them have maintained that abortion is disliked, even if the embryo does not show signs of formation, because once the husband's semen reaches his wife's uterus it will take on life. Therefore, it follows the same ruling as a living creature just like the life of a bird inside its egg.

The Hanafi scholar, Ibn Wahban said, "The permissibility of terminating a pregnancy is interpreted to mean either the presence of an excuse, or that the sin of such an act is not altogether tantamount to that of taking a life. This is the most liberal opinion in the Hanafi school on this issue."

Abortion after the fetus has been ensouled
Based on the above, it is known that aborting a fetus after ensoulment is considered taking a life which Allah has prohibited except by right.

The ruling
Any deformities that may be detected in the fetus are not considered a legal excuse for terminating the pregnancy. This is the case regardless of the degree of deformities, and whether or not it is possible to treat them with medication or surgery or, if for any reason, a cure is impossible, except if they pose a risk to the mother's life.
Allah Almighty knows best

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