Abortion in the context of the Middle East and its religion (Islam)
I am currently residing in Jordan- a country in the Middle East. In Jordan, I go to King’s Academy, a school that I am currently attending as a 11th grader.
Despite the diversity of the school and the existence of a feminist club, I spot female students oppressed by social norms. For example, in one of my class, when debating about the role of woman, a male student asserted that “women should not be teachers, doctors, and judges as they are too emotional to make rational decisions.” From this, I was inspired to research about the oppression of woman, specifically abortion to investigate the ethical principles that are relevant with this topic. To do so, synthesis of the sources is present to relate to the bioethical principles. Consequently, a survey was conducted to highlight the Arab students’ perception on abortion and woman oppression.
Synthesis of sources:
Shame, Haram are the words that are associated with abortion. Haram in Arabic means “forbidden or prescribed by Islamic Laws” (Google dictionary). Why is this so? Shouldn’t the women be granted with the right to select the fate for their own babies?
Tarana, is a victim of the perceptions of abortion in the Middle Eastern countries or countries that believe in Islam. Due to her husband’s constant physical abuse, she decided to get divorced. However, as she realized that she was pregnant, she started to look for doctors who would allow her to perform abortion. She highlights that although abortion is illegal in her country, there were still some private doctors who would provide her with medication for abortion. Tarana had to go through an illegal route, endure her rejection from the doctors for multiple times, to get abortion. Finally, after contacting a doctor who was willing to perform abortion, gave her medication for abortion.
To empower women, Women On Web, was initiated to perform abortions for women who are in need. However, these women are not granted with the best medication that can be provided with them
Religious perspective on abortion: Islam
What is the main reason for the firm opposition of abortion in the Middle Eastern countries? One of the main reason why women cannot be provided with best health care for abortion is because of Islam: the dominant religion in the Middle East.
The majority of the Muslims regard abortion as wrong and haram (forbidden). The Qur’an (religious book for Muslisms) does not explicitly comment on abortion, but Islam’s perspective on abortion can be assumed by the core values that Muslims hold:
All these references from the Qur’an reveals how it is opposing the dominant religion in the Middle Eastern region to perform abortion. The firm assertion from the Qur’an takes away women’s autonomy to make their own decision for their offspring. Furthermore, similar to the fundamental belief of Christians, Muslims believe that the individual’s life has been already planned out by Allah (God). Therefore, by changing the plan that Allah has set up, one is challenging the authority of God. This fundamental belief of Muslims hinders women from getting abortion as the society would refer to those woman as criminal and a murderer. However, abortion is allowed if the fetus is endangering women’s life.
What are the relevant bioethical principles associated with abortion?
As I was inspired to about abortion in the context of the Middle East, specifically in Jordan, I formulated the following ethical question:
What are the fundamental ethical issues around abortion? This question was derived so I could successfully expose the harsh reality that women have to go through when trying to perform abortion, and to effectively relate to the relevant bioethical questions.
The principle of Respect for Autonomy refers to the respect the decision that an individual made. However, this principle of ethical principles is violated. First of all, women’s autonomy is taken and ignored from the society as they firmly prohibit abortion and refer to it as Haram, an act that a Muslim should not carry about. By this firm law, it takes away women’s fundamental right to decide on what they would want to do. For example, for Tarana’s case, her autonomy was rejected by numerous doctors that she went when she desired abortion. The only reason why she could perform abortion was because her sister was acquainted with a doctor that would help her perform abortion. Tarana is an exceptional case, but there are plethora of Muslim women who are unable to perform abortion from the religious perspective.
This principle accentuates on the health care providers’ duty to be of a benefit of a patient, as well as to take positive steps to prevent and remove harm from the patient. Abortion is intertwined with this aspect because women should be provided with the best medication they can be when performing abortion.
This principle accentuates that the hospital/health care organizations should not intentionally create harm or injury to the patients. Abortion in the Middle East is relevant to Non-maleficence as women are going through psychological pain from the oppression of the society. Tarana describes that nobody, not even a single member in her family, knows that she got abortion. When she was bleeding after getting the medication for abortion, she informed her family that she was on her period. The reasoning behind this was because she was afraid that she would be characterized as a murderer and a criminal that killed her own baby. She didn’t have any choice but abortion as she was constantly physically abused by her husband because her baby turned out to be a daughter, not a son. From this oppression from the society, it worsens the psychological state of women as they have to be always worried about hiding information about their abortion. Abortion not only destroys one’s psychological sate, but women are also not provided with suitable environment to perform abortion. This is mainly so because women perform abortion in a secluded area, and is not treated with the best medication that can be provided to women. This environment while performing abortion can have a negative influence on these women as the surgery may go wrong.
This principle refers tot the allocation of the resources which includes equity, equality, power and need. The allocation of the medical resources in the Middle Eastern is not consistent as women who desire to perform abortion have to be secretly performed in a private hospital. Therefore, according to equality, every women in the Middle East should be provided with medication and proper procedure for abortion.
After analyzing the relevant bioethical principles, I sent out a survey to understand Arab students’ perception on abortion.
Results for the first question:
Results for the second question:
What are your opinions on the survey question? Comment below! THANK YOU