Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: I am severely depressed because I live with an abusive mother-in-law. I have decided to leave my husband but I am pregnant. Can I have an abortion?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
I pray this finds you well.
Your mother-in-law sounds extremely toxic. You have rights to private living quarters, especially as she is causing you so much harm. I encourage you and your husband to read this article: A Wife’s Right to Housing Seperate From Her In-Laws.
Does your husband know that you are considering divorcing him, and terminating your pregnancy? Would you be willing to stay married to him if you both moved out and set firm boundaries with your mother-in-law?
You say that you love him, and he is a good man who struggles to set boundaries with his mother. This is a very common issue, and there are solutions. Please don’t give up hope. Often, the birth of a baby softens hearts, even those of mothers-in-law. Perhaps the news of an impending grandchild will soften her heart.
In your scenario, especially as your mother-in-law verbally abuses over the phone, it is permissible for you to 1) block her number 2) not answer her calls 3) not visit her. This applies until you reach a point of mental stability again. Your husband is obligated to visit her and keep ties with her. Your priority is that of your health and your baby’s.
At the very minimum, please go away for a while – just you, your husband, and your baby. Please take a break from this constant barrage of emotional abuse. You sound so worn out, and desperate for a way out. Please have an open and honest conversation with your husband about needing his love and support in order to get through this.
Dear sister, I urge you to speak to a compassionate doctor and a culturally-sensitive counsellor. Tell your doctor that you are pregnant, and ask for suitable anti-depressants. Please book a session with a counsellor and explain how you are at your wit’s end, and willing to terminate your pregnancy.
Please come to a state of better mental clarity before deciding to 1) divorce your husband 2) terminate your pregnancy.
Both choices will have life-long consequences on your spiritual, mental and emotional health. It sounds like you are under tremendous stress, and it is only natural to want to escape.
Even better, please ask your husband to come to counselling with you. Please work out a solution together.
Please ensure that you have performed the Prayer of Guidance 7 times before coming to a final decision on ending your marriage.
If you are still set on getting a divorce from your husband, then either ask for khula’ and return your mahr to him, or ask him to make one pronouncement of talaq.
This way, there is still the possibility of both of you remarrying later on, if Allah wills. You mother-in-law might pass away, or she might make her repentance and leave you in peace.
There is a difference of opinion on this very sensitive issue.
Imam Ibn Hajar’s position is that abortion is always unlawful. Imam Ramly said it is unlawful after 120 days but permissible before that. Shaykh Muhammmed Bashir Al-Hadded pointed out that both parents must consent to the abortion as the child is part of both of them.
I am concerned that if you go ahead with an abortion, you may come to regret it. Please find a way to take the edge of your depression before you make this final call. I am so, so sorry that you have suffered so much and reached this point of despair. Please keep making dua for ease, perform the Prayer of Need, and remember that Allah is the Turner of Hearts. He created life and death, and can soften your mother-in-law’s heart.
I hope that this will bring some comfort to you – many women have reported a significant improvement in their relationship with with their mother-in-law after giving birth.
Please keep in touch and keep us updated. May Allah soothe your heart, ease your tribulation, and grant you a way out.
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.