Termination of pregnancy due to con...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Termination of pregnancy due to congenital defects in the fetus which are harmful to the mother


2005 which includes the following:
My 19-year-old wife is 23 weeks pregnant. Early in the pregnancy we discovered that the pregnancy was abnormal because the ultra-sound revealed the presence of twins with only one of them alive. Subsequent ultrasounds revealed that the [dead] twin had vanished while the other twin continued to develop. Almost one month ago, a 4D ultrasound revealed hydrocephalus resulting from a benign tumor on the fetus’s skull which has led to an enlarged skull and cerebral atrophy involving almost the entire brain. Dr. … – a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Ein Shams University and the one to make the ultrasound scan – determined the necessity of an immediate termination of the pregnancy since carrying the pregnancy to term will lead to enlargement of the fetus‘s skull to such an extent making a normal delivery difficult, in addition to diminishing the chances of the fetus remaining alive after birth due to cerebral atrophy.
I consulted a neurologist and he confirmed the difficulty of the fetus remaining alive and of keeping it alive in the case of a premature delivery at 6 1/2 months due to the absence of vital and motor brain functions. Furthermore, my sister – an ob/gyn physician specializing in neonatal care at Ein Shams University — informed me of the danger of carrying the pregnancy to term because of the potential complications that the enlarged head of the fetus poses for the mother and which may lead to severe uterine hemorrhaging, and which could — Allah forbid — necessitate a hysterectomy (my wife is still young and Allah has not yet blessed us with children yet), in addition to the danger this poses for the mother.
What is the legal ruling for an abortion in this case?


Scholars concur that it is impermissible to conduct an abortion if the fetus has reached 120 days which is when it is ensouled, and that it is incontrovertibly prohibited to terminate a pregnancy after that time because it is tantamount to taking a life which Allah has prohibited except by right: … do not kill your children in fear of poverty—We will provide for you and for them [6:151], … and do not take life which God has made sacred, except by right [17:33].
However, scholars differ on the permissibility of aborting a fetus of less than 120 days:
• Some maintain its prohibition; this is the established opinion of the Malikis and Zahirites.
• Others maintain that it is offensive regardless of the circumstances; and this is the opinion of some Maliki scholars.
• Others maintain that it is permissible if there is an excuse, and this is the opinion of some of the Hanafi and Shafi'i scholars.
The preponderant opinion for fatwa is that abortion is incontrovertibly prohibited whether it is conducted before or after the fetus has been ensouled except for a legal necessity.
Based on the above and in reference to the question, it is impermissible to dispose of the baby and terminate the pregnancy except if a trustworthy upright physician determines that if the fetus remains in the womb, the mother's life will be in potential danger, or that it will lead to a hysterectomy, permanent sterility, or a chronic illness.
The presence of congenital defects affecting the fetus does not justify abortion, and the life of the unborn fetus is as sacred as that of the newborn who is living in this world among us—they are both alive and they both respire, move, and are nourished. Likewise, it is prohibited to terminate the life of a retarded child or that of a child born with congenital malformations, as it is also prohibited to terminate the life of a child which medical tests have determined to be malformed. Likewise, the low likelihood for a normal delivery does not alone justify abortion because delivery can be performed through a surgical procedure. The main issue here is when the fetus's life puts the mother's life at risk, or the grave danger it poses for her health while it is certain that it will not remain alive, in which case we can apply the legal maxim: the greater of two evils is mitigated by undertaking the lesser. Allah the Almighty knows best.

Share this:

Related Fatwas