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Abortion is the expulsion of undeveloped fetus (from the womb). Scientifically it means the expulsion of the contents of the womb before 22 weeks from the last menses of a woman or 20 weeks from the time of fertilization. It mostly occurs during the first three months of conception. It is scientifically defined as: the loss of the fetus before it reaches the state of growth that can enable it to survive outside the womb.

It can be categorized into the following:

1. automatic abortion (unintentional)

2. criminal abortion

3. therapeutic abortion (for treatment)

The fetus in the womb goes through two stages:

Firstly: the stage before the spirit is blown into it.

Secondly: the stage after the spirit has been blown into it. Each of these stages has its unique rules and characteristics.

Scholars differed not with regards to the impermissibility of abortion after the spirit has been blown into it, however, their differences is with regard to the rule of expulsion of the fetus from the womb before the spirit is blown therein. There are two schools of thought on that:

First school of thought: it is allowed to abort the fetus before the spirit is blown into. This is the opinion of the Hanafis, the Shafi'es and the unpopular view of the Maaliki schools of thought and some Hanbalis. However, the Hanafis disliked that and they made analogy on that with a pilgrim who breaks the egg of a hunting animal, just as compensation is compulsory on him, the same is the aborting a fetus in this stage, the causer of the abortion is sinful but not as the sin of a killer. Just as the egg is the origin of the life of the hunting animal, the same is the sperm cells. Based on this, they disliked abortion in this stage. They however allowed it during necessities.

 Second school of thought: it sees the prohibition of abortion even before the spirit is blown into it. This is the popular view of the Maalikiyya school of thought and an opinion of some of the Hanbaliyya scholars.

The Jurist have researched into the rule of abortion if it is the result of taking a drug purposely for aborting it. In this case the woman is responsible for it. The same is in the case of the husband if it is done with his permission because his permission does not make the unlawful to become lawful.

 However, if she was to take a drug for medication and not for aborting it, the scholars differed concerning that into two schools of thought:

1. She is not liable for that but she does not inherit it. This the opinion of the Hanafi, Maaliki, and the Shaafi'e school of thought.

2. she is liable and shall not inherit the aborted fetus in any way as a killer does not inherit the killed. This is the opinion of the Hanbaliyya.

The preponderant opinion: intentional abortion of a fetus either before or after the spirit is blown into it through any means and without a valid Islamic reason is prohibited. One who does this is sinful and hence responsible for it.

 A criminal abortion is prohibited whether done through the pregnant woman herself or through a doctor with her permission and through which ever means it is done. However, if the abortion was through a therapeutic necessity, then is allowed even if it was after the spirit is blown into the fetus. This is due to the fact that the protection of the two souls-the mother and the fetus- during medication is compulsory. However, if that becomes impossible after the application of all necessary means and methods, then the life of one must be protected in the expense of the life of the other. Obviously, if it is confirmed from very authentic source that the continuation of the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the woman, the general principles of the sharia encourages committing the less of the two harms, hence we sacrifice the fetus in order to save the life of the mother as she is the origin. This is because, the mother is the pillar of the family and is unreasonable to sacrifice her life for the fetus whose life is not yet stabilized and has not yet attained eligibility .

 As for an abortion due to necessity(therapeutic) and before the spirit is blown into the fetus, there is consensus on its permissibility among the scholars but with the presence of certain conditions. They are:

1.the ascertainment of danger on the life of the mother if the pregnancy is allowed continuity.

2. if it prevails over that there is no way for the mother to live except by aborting the fetus.

3. a statement from a committee of trustworthy and specialize doctors free from any element of doubt.

4. the condition must be of that of a necessity and not for the sake of prettying up. Thus, the reason for the abortion must be for the sake of saving the life of the mother and not because of protecting her beauty, her elegance and because she is busy with employment and many other social and economic reasons.

 It must be noticed that the fetus, before the spirit is blown into it, is viewed as an organ of the body and is allowed to sacrifice an organ of one's body to save one's life.

 Al-Ghazaali (may Allah have mercy on him) distinguished between coitus interruptus, abortion and burying alive, though they all obviously lead to the same end which is the death of the child. He says about coitus interruptus:" And this is not like abortion and burying alive for ( abortion and burying alive) is killing something which is already in existence which is also in stages, the first being existence. Thus the release of the sperm into the womb and its mixing with the sperm of the woman in an attempt to receive life. Destroying it (at this stage) is a sin. If it becomes a piece of embryonic lump and a leech, destroying it is more sinful, if it was destroyed after the spirit is blown into it and after its development is completed, then it increases in criminality and sinfulness, and the peak of criminality and sinfulness is when it is destroyed after it had come (out of the womb) alive.


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