Answered by Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt
I have started my residency in obstetrics and gynecology. We have a pregnancy termination rotation in our first year (to learn the procedure). I’m very conflicted on whether to participate in this rotation – pregnancy termination is a complex subject with various Islamic rulings but the one ruling that I believe is relatively agreed upon is that termination for medical reasons (ie if the mother’s life is at risk) is permissible. With this in mind, does this mean that it is permissible for me to learn the procedure even though I would be learning through terminations that are for a wide variety of reasons? My conscience tells me to abstain from this rotation but I am also aware of situations where I may be the only healthcare provider who could offer this service for ‘halāl’ reasons (such as if I were to do international medical trips in a Muslim country). Would absolutely love your guidance.
In the Name of God, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate
Jazāk Allāh Khayr/ Thank you for your question.
Congratulations on the residency for your professional education leading up to your career. There is a great need for Muslims in the field.
As you have rightfully indicated, in general circumstances, termination of pregnancy (abortion) is forbidden in Islam. In a dire situation of absolute necessity, abortion may become permissible provided the fetus is less than 120 days. Qādhī Mujāhid-al-Islam in his book ‘Family Planning and Abortion’ has stated abortion within the period of the fetus being less than 120 days is permissible due to some excruciation situations, such as:
- Rape and incest
- Proven abnormalities or dangers for either the baby or the mother (attested by an experienced medical expert), e.g. anencephaly (no brain), downs syndrome, trisomy, congenital rubella health etc.
As a Muslim, it would be mubāḥ (allowed) for you to participate in educational classes to learn the procedure of terminating pregnancies to complete your residency with the following conditions:
- You are aware of the Islamic jurisprudence related to abortion
- You bring to your continence that islamicaly a termination or abortion without a valid reason is islamicaly incorrect.
- Your intention to participate is for education and training that may be useful in islamicaly permitted situations.
“Whosoever has spared the life of a soul, it is as though they have spared the life of all people. Whosoever has killed a soul, it is as though they have murdered all mankind.” (Qur’ān 5:32)
“And do not kill your children out of fear of poverty; We shall provide for them and for you. Truly, the killing of them is a great sin”. (Qur’ān 17:31)
“Verily the creation of each one of you is brought together in his mother’s belly for forty days in the form of a seed, then he is a clot of blood for a like period, then an angel is sent to him who blows the breath of life into him.” (Bukhārī and Muslim)
Some Islamic jurists are of the view, that since abortion equates to murder, one should never resort to that. If one is unable to take care or raise the child, one can always give up the child to someone who will, such as through adoption or social services organizations who provide care for children with disabilities or challenges.
And Allāh Knows Best