Question: I have a question regarding the permissibilty of carrying out an abortion on babies with genetic diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis. Scientists can now actually determine at a stage (before 120 days) weather this child will suffer from CF. This disease bascially involves the child growing up and living to the age of tops 30 years (if Allah Wills) and during these years the accumulation of bacteria and virus in the lungs due to sticky mucus causes 24/7 treatment of drugs. They would suffer many hardships during their life including being looked after. We studied this at college, and i know in the previous, the question has been asked about abortion. But would it still be permissible to carry out an abortion on this child knowing they would have a very serious condition during their short life? Abortion in the sense before 120 days when the ruh is inserted.
In Islâm, abortion is primarily a prohibited sphere. However, as mentioned in an earlier post, prior to the period of four months (120 days) elapsing, it will become permissible if there is a legitimate and genuinely valid excuse. (Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, 5/276).
These excuses are of two types:
1) Those that affect the mother. For instance:
2) Those that affect the unborn child
- a) The pregnancy constitutes a danger to the mother’s physical health.
- b) It constitutes a danger to the mother’s mental health.
- c) Pregnancy caused due to rape.
- d) If a pregnant woman is severely crippled or suffers from a serious mental illness and is in no position to care for herself, then, if it is possible to give the child for caring or adoption after it is born, abortion is out of the question. However, if no such arrangement can be made, then an abortion will be permissible.
Many contemporary scholars have stressed that if medical examination determines that the child will be born with severe disabilities or will be inflicted with genetic diseases that will cause him relentless pains, and will be an undue burden for the parents, it will be permissible to abort the foetus, provided the four months have not elapsed.
This can be derived from the following text of Ibn Abidin:
“(al-Haskafi’s statement “Abortion is permissible due to a valid reason”), for example, the milk of the pregnant mother ceased, and the father of the child is not in a position financially to hire a wet-nurse, and there is a fear of the child perishing, then they (fuqaha) have stated that it will be permissible to abort the pregnancy, provided the period of 120 days have not elapsed. This is permissible, as the foetus is not as yet developed into a human, and by aborting it, we are saving a human life” [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, 5/276]
The same has been stated in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, [4/112], which is one of the most important fatwa references in the Hanafi school, as Shaykh Mustafa Zarqa mentions in his Madkhal.
However, it should be remembered here that there should be a certain danger and risk about this. Mere doubts will not justify abortion. Also, it must be advised by a qualified, God-fearing Muslim doctor. It would be better if this is decided by a team of specialists, rather than just the one person. One should consult with a reliable scholar to confirm the particulars of one’s case, for caution should be should in all matters related to the lawful and unlawful.
And Allah knows best.
Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari of the Hanafi fiqh list.