Aborting a child due to abnormalities

A: My wife is 23 weeks pregnant and we have just been advised by two specialists that:

– The heart of the foetus is extremely enlarged such that it is filling up the entire width of the chest cavity (the normal ratio is 60% of the cavity. In this case, its wall to wall)

– The right ventricle valve is deformed and not closing, which is resulting in back flow of blood back into the right atrium (instead of towards the lungs as it should be)

– The pulmonary arteries are half the diameter that they should be at this stage of development, meaning that there is insufficient blood flow to the lungs.

– As the heart is so large, the lungs are severely under-developed, and they are uncertain how these will hold up at the time of birth

– The specialists are certain that any form of operation post birth will not be corrective, and whatever they do may only prolong the condition of the newborn for a short period.

In summary, their prognosis is very poor, such that they are of the opinion that the foetus is likely to suffer heart failure even before reaching full term. In the event that it does reach full term, it will require immediate intensive care and surgery to re-direct blood flow away from the left side of the heart directly towards the lungs, implying that the newborn will only be surviving by using one side of the heart. This in itself, they believe, will not last long as the heart cannot sustain this in any meaningful manner.

International research (performed by myself) confirms their assessment and prognoses that death before full term is very likely, and if not, death within 3-4 weeks after birth should be expected.

At this stage, they cannot determine the impact that the heart enlargement and pulmonary arteries under-development, is having on the other organs in the body, except to say that, in their opinions, the condition of the foetus will only get worse and will not be compatible with life. 

Notwithstanding the 120 day ‘rooh entering the body’ consensus, would it be Islamically permissible (or not) to terminate the pregnancy?


A: It is totally haraam in Islam to terminate the life of any human being. After 120 days of pregnancy, the soul enters the foetus. Hence it is haraam to abort the child after this period. Life and death is the sole right and property of Allah Ta’ala. No person, doctor, specialist, physician, etc. has the right to deal in this or influence it. Just as taking the life of someone who is born deformed or mentally retarded is not tolerated and treated as murder, similarly aborting the child at this time is extremely deplorable and totally impermissible in the sight of Allah Ta’ala.

In the Qur’aan Shareef Allah Ta’ala explains that on the day of Qiyaamah the helpless, defenceless child who was mercilessly murdered (whether in the womb through abortion or after birth as was the custom of the pagan Arabs) will be brought before Allah Ta’ala and the parents of the child will also be brought (i.e. the parents who were the cause of the childs life being taken). The child will then complain to Allah Ta’ala saying that O Allah! For what sin was I killed? O Allah! Ask my parents why did they terminate my life and kill me? Why was I not given an opportunity to live?

وَإِذَا المَوءۥدَةُ سُئِلَت ﴿٨﴾ بِأَىِّ ذَنبٍ قُتِلَت

When the infant buried alive, is questioned – For what crime was it killed;

Imagine on that day what answer will the parents guilty of such a major crime present before Allah Ta’ala and save themselves from the severe torment and punishment of Allah Ta’ala!

There are many glaring examples where the prognosis of the physicians showed that there was no hope or very little hope, whereas the reality turned out contrary to that. Hence as a believer one ought to have faith in Allah Ta’ala, obey Him and be pleased with His decree at every moment.  

And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.

وقالوا يباح إسقاط الولد قبل أربعة أشهر ولو بلا إذن الزوج

قال الشامي في رد المحتار:  مطلب في حكم إسقاط الحمل  قوله ( وقالوا الخ ) قال في النهر بقي هل يباح الإسقاط بعد الحمل نعم يباح ما لم يتخلق منه شيء ولن يكون ذلك إلا بعد مائة وعشرين يوما وهذا يقتضي أنهم أرادوا بالتخليق نفخ الروح وإلا فهو غلط لأن التخليق يتحقق بالمشاهدة قبل هذه المدة كذا في الفتح وإطلاقهم يفيد عدم توقف جواز إسقاطها قبل المدة المذكورة على إذن الزوج وفي كراهة الخانية ولا أقول بالحل إذ المحرم لو كسر بيض الصيد ضمنه لأنه أصل الصيد فلما كان يؤاخذ بالجزء فلا أقل من أن يلحقها إثم هنا إذا أسقطت بغير عذر قال ابن وهبان ومن الأعذار أن ينقطع لبنها بعد ظهور الحمل وليس لأبي الصبي ما يستأجر به الظئر ويخاف هلاكه ونقل عن الذخيرة لو أرادت الإلقاء قبل مضي زمن ينفخ فيه الروح هل يباح لها ذلك أم لا اختلفوا فيه وكان الفقيه علي بن موسى يقول إنه يكره فإن الماء بعد ما وقع في الرحم مآله الحياة فيكون له حكم الحياة كما في بيضة صيد الحرم ونحوه في الظهيرية قال ابن وهبان فإباحة الإسقاط محمولة على حالة العذر أو أنها لا تأثم إثم القتل وبما في الذخيرة تبين أنهم ما أرادوا بالتحقيق إلا نفخ الروح وأن قاضيخان مسبوق بما مر من التفقه والله تعالى الموفق (رد المحتار 3/176)

Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)