Muslim Countries on Abortion

Sep 6, 2021
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The conflict surrounding abortion is far from achieving a global resolution. The societal issue is not exclusive to the US but is also a topic of much-heated and contentious debate in other countries, specifically Muslim countries. Countries that strongly exercise their faith and practice Islam regard the fetus as sacred for it has life, regardless of whether it is legally considered a person or not. On the other hand, the bearer of the fetus and her rights are more prioritized in the Western point-of-view since the fetus is not legally human until a specific term of the pregnancy. The debate on abortion is not exclusive to Christians and the pro-life and pro-choice movement. If there is truly a global conversation on abortion, the voice of Muslims would rule in favor of the fetus. 

Most Muslim countries prohibit abortion in all circumstances. However, some Muslim countries like Tunisia and Turkey allow abortion in special cases if the pregnancy proves to be a problem to the mother’s health. In Egypt, for example, the Egyptian Penal Code of 1937 bans abortion in any situation, although the ban can be overturned on grounds of necessity. Moreover, it is the decision of a committee of physicians that will determine whether an abortion is necessary and is within the limits and confines of the law, regardless of religious beliefs and laws. Similar laws are in place in Iran where abortion is also illegal unless it is necessary to prioritize the health of the mother. All these somehow offer protection in favor of the mother’s life. 

Muslim basic religious law provides a strong stance against abortion. For example, in the Holy Quran, there is a line that reads, “Kill not your children, on a plea of want, we provide sustenance for you and for them,” Q 1:151. In this line, it is clear that like in Christianity, Islam considers abortion as a form of murder. The Quran pleads those who practice Islam not to kill their children as their role as parents are to provide support for children. However, a conflict occurs when parents with no means to support and raise children conceive a child. Moreover, regardless of how some Muslim countries have laws in place to highlight women’s health, it still shows how a woman’s right to decide for her own isn’t anywhere near the list of priorities, and women can only access abortion through the approval of physicians and the system. 

Furthermore, other lines from the Quran that discourage abortion include: “He creates you in the wombs of your mothers/ in stages, one after another/ in three veils of darkness/ Such is Allah, your Lord and Cherisher.” The Quran states that the fetus undergoes certain growth changes, and upon conception, it is already alive and holds its right in the name of Allah. Thus, abortion proves to be a way of tarnishing those stages of creation. In other words, in the Middle East, the factors that led to the conflict regarding the immorality of abortion includes the need to prioritize women’s health and the strict teachings of the Quran along with Muslim laws. Muslim laws are strengthened by the Quran and how it robustly opposes abortion, however, there is also a need to protect women from perilous pregnancies, or even conception through unprotected and nonconsensual intercourse. 

In the United States, abortion is allowed in many states. It is argued that the reason for the legal abortion procedures in most states is because of the country’s First Amendment under the Constitution, which highlights the separation of church and state. Moreover, abortion is not considered homicide because a fetus is not known to be human up to a significant period of the pregnancy, which is widely believed to be in the eighth week. Lastly, Americans believe it is well within a woman’s right to make decisions for their own body regarding reproductive health and pregnancy. The First Amendment is not present in most Eastern and Muslim countries, thus explaining how their laws are heavily influenced by religion. 

The lack of consolidation regarding abortion on a global scale can then be narrowed down to contradicting religious beliefs, culture, and even personal opinion. The varying definition and perspective towards the significance of a fetus, whether it holds life or not, contribute to the complicated problem of abortion. Islam holds human life with high regard, and that includes the life of a conceived fetus - similar to Christianity. Although the US is completely divided over abortion, with equal numbers of pro-life and pro-choice advocates voicing out their opinion, the Muslim perspective on abortion still pulls the worldwide debate on abortion more farther from a resolution. 

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