An interesting article I found by Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury from the AlKauthar website. Its a well worth read for all the medics and health care professionals out there with this current debate about infanticide etc. Interesting perspective from someone who has studied both Shariah & medicine. Insh’Allah i will update on later articles under the “Medical Ethics” section about a few issues e.g. organ donations/transplants, blood donations, contraception etc.
Recently the Australian Medical Association asked our medical department for our vote on legalizing Mifeprestone (RU486) in Australia in yet another attempt to make non-invasive abortion more accessable to Australian women. At the moment it takes a woman about AU$120 to get an abortion done as medicare pays for the rest. There are about 84,000 abortions performed in Australia in 2003. Pro-choice argue that even this is too restrictive on women, especially on those women in rural areas, so they want the medicare itemed RU486 to be legalized. It is for this reason that attempts are underway to de-criminalize abortion in those states that require a ‘lawful’ abortion to be performed, even though there has not been a successful prosecution for unlawful abortion since 1970s. At 84,000 abortions a year, I strongly doubt that they are all legal abortions and in reality, practise is more common than we are led to believe.
Is there a need to make abortion even more accessible to women, especially since the age of women asking for abortion is getting lower and lower?
I watched with amazement at the 60,000 signatures and hand prints collected to prevent the capital punishment in Singapore being applied on convicted Australian drug smuggler, Nguyen, arguing to save his life. ‘Life is sacred’ we are told, ‘Life is the greatest gift’ – amazing statements from a people arguing for every ease to end that very life! On one hand, remove the life of an innocent soul because of perceived inconvenience and on the other hand, save the life of one guilty of a crime that will destroy thousands of others!
This, I believe, is attestament to the perversion of logic in the minds of those who hold these views – those who, in their struggle to have the perfect lifestyle, crown convenience and ‘choice’ as king and queen. To make abortion even more accessible, is I believe, completely amoral. Such an act would put the monumental decision of termination of life to even younger women, and at a time when their judgement and wisdom is clouded by circumstance.
I do not believe that society can ever learn to forgive women who kill their living children. Considering the fact that 90% of abortions are performed in the first 90 days since inception, the problem seems to lie in people’s interpretation as to when life truly starts.
The Carnegie stages of human development show that the development of all body organs are completed by 56 days. The heart starts beating at 25 days and the first impulses from the brain can be felt at 40 days. Islamically and medically, life ends with brain death so too it must start with it as well. If 90% of abortions are performed before 90 days, then it seems the vast majority of abortions are actually performed on a living soul. I believe, to not provide this information in counselling women who want to have an abortion, is moral and medical negligence and perversion, and not in accordance with medical ethics of beneficience and non-maleficence.
Islamically the doctor who performs abortion is obliged to pay 5% blood money since classical scholars of fiqh consider the baby inconception, to have the probability of life, but not fully alive as life in those times could only be proven on delivery. In our time, I believe modern technology has changed all that and abortion must carry 100% blood money – approximately AU$45,000 in 2006.
If morality and human ethics will be neglected for convenience and choice, then perhaps it is the blood money that will stop them. If that too fails then all that is left is the hadeeth of our beloved Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam: “If you have no shame, then do as you wish.”
“And when the infant buried alive with be questioned, for what reason she was killed.” [81:8-9]
Abu Yusuf Tawfique Chowdhury