Women's Right to Abortion

In Islam, there is no clear prohibition of abortion, and the right to access contraceptives and family planning education are both cited in the Qur’an. Many scholars and Muslims agree that abortions are permissible to ensure the overall health of the woman. Early Muslim jurists advocated that the protection of a woman’s life be prioritized over that of an unborn fetus, and often argued that life does not begin at conception. That is why contemporary Muslim jurists, generally, accept the use of abortion up until a certain time, usually the first trimester.

Quranic Support

“He makes you in the wombs of your mothers in stages, one after another, in three veils of darkness.” (Quran 39:6)

“[We] then formed the drop into a clot and formed the clot into a lump and formed the lump into bones and clothed the bones in flesh; and then brought him into being as another creature. Blessed be Allah, the Best of Creators!” (Qur’an, 23:14)

“He Who has created all things in the best possible way. He commenced the creation of man from clay; then He made his progeny from an extract of discarded fluid.” (Qur’an, 32:7-8)

The Prophet’s Sayings

“(As regards to your creation), every one of you is collected in the womb of his mother for the first 40 days, and then he becomes a clot for another 40 days, and then a piece of flesh for another 40 days. Then Allah sends an angel to breathe the soul into his body” ( Abdullah).

Reproductive health in Islam does not carry a unified position due to varying scholarly opinions and cultural taboos, inhibiting women from seeking reproductive healthcare and education. Different schools of Islamic thought believe that a fertilized egg reaches “ensoulment” at a varying number of days. Citing the Prophet, scholars argue that life begins after 120 days of conception, while other scholars argue that life begins earlier.

 

Given this, patriarchal communities unjustly institute domestic policies that shame women who are sexually assaulted, creating laws that force victims to marry their rapists and bear their children. As a result, cultural taboos surrounding rape, abortion and reproductive health care prevent women from seeking medical help.

Today, every Muslim nation permits abortion at least to save the life of the mother. In Tunisia, women can receive abortions freely, while in countries such as Pakistan the practice is frowned upon. In order for women to be free and responsible agents, proper reproductive health education is vital. Moreover, religious leaders and scholars should avoid interpretations of religious texts that put these women in danger and focus on the benefits of reproductive services, such as low mortality rates, decreased poverty rates, longer access to education, and increased overall happiness.

WISE Position

Since women have the right to enhance their mind, body and spirit, they are allowed to seek abortions. According to the Qur’an and the Prophet, rape, incest and near-death are all cases in which is it permissible for a woman to have an abortion. Preventing a woman from reproductive health services threatens both her mental and physical health, which is against Islamic teachings.

WISE Women Active in the Issue

Nafis Sadik, Fatou Waggeh, Hanan Gewefel, Samia al-Amoudi

Related Articles

Speake, Beth. “Islam and Women’s Reproductive and Sexual Rights in the MENA Region.” E-International Relations Students. Sept. 11, 2012. http://www.e-ir.info/2012/09/11/islam-and-womens-reproductive-and-sexual-rights-in-the-mena-region/

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