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Abortion only permissible when mother’s life in danger says leading Islamic figure

By Susan Gately - 02 March, 2018

Dr Ali Selim, Islamic Cultural Institute, Ireland

Under the teachings of Islam, abortion can only be considered when the life of the mother is endangered, “and when I say the mother’s life is in danger, it means the mother will die if we allow this pregnancy to continue,” the spokesperson for Imam Hussein Halawa, chairman of the Irish Council of Imams, has said.

Dr Ali Salim was clarifying the teaching of Islam on abortion following the publication of a guideline for Irish Muslims on the Eighth Amendment on the website of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council (IMPIC).

In the guideline, IMPIC calls for repeal of the Eighth Amendment and says that the “State should facilitate both legislation and funding for ease of access to abortion in extraordinary circumstances, (such as risk to the mother’s life, health or psychological well-being, pregnancy of a minor, rape, incest and so on).”

However, Dr Selim said that abortion is basically an act of murder, and asked who can sanction murder. “If you give people permission to do that basically you are giving them permission to commit murder.”

Asked about the teaching of Islam on abortion in the case of rape, Dr Selim, who has a doctorate in Islam and a masters in Philosophy of Religion, said that using abortion in these cases was wrong: “In the case of rape you are not punishing the perpetrator, but punishing the most innocent. What kind of logic is that for God’s sake? The foetus has not committed anything but he or she is the one that we are taking life from and he had nothing to do with that.”

Instead of killing the baby, he would say it is far better to advise, to raise awareness and educate and give courses that would prevent incidents of this nature. “If rape is the crisis we are facing, well instead of thinking of murdering the most innocent, we have to think of providing courses and look at the circumstances that drive people to perpetrate such a thing and if they do it then they have to be punished for that because they are the one who perpetrated the crime.

“It’s unbelievable that you, instead of thinking of the perpetrator of the crime, you go and punish the most innocent – that is not acceptable at all,” he told CatholicIreland.

The IMPIC Guideline says Islam is “neither exclusively pro-life nor pro-choice”. We are taught, it says, that “the soul is enjoined with the developing foetus in the second trimester around 120 days after conception. However, this does not equate to unconditional abortion before this date. We seek to protect the rights of the unborn child, cherishing new life as a wondrous gift of God, and affirm the termination of developing new life in ordinary circumstances to be a sin and an affront to human dignity.”

However, Dr Selim said that the “blessing of life is a blessing that comes from God and hence it has to be respected. From an Islamic point of view we do not agree with abortion unless the mother’s life is physically in danger. Other than that there is no other situation where abortion can be considered.”

Abortion is already legal in Ireland where there is a direct physical threat to the life of the mother, or the risk of her suicide, under the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013.

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