First Published: 2005-04-12

 
Iran parliament eases abortion law
 

Abortion bill still needs Guardians Councilís approval as Iran moves to stamp out on backstreet business.

 

Middle East Online

By Hiedeh Farmani - TEHRAN

The bill was adopted by 127 of the 217 deputies present

Iran's conservative-dominated parliament adopted a bill Tuesday to allow abortions in limited cases, in a bid to stamp out a booming but dangerous backstreet business.

"Abortion will be allowed... within four months of gestation if the foetus is mentally or physically handicapped - inflicting a financial burden on the family - or the mother's life is in danger," according to the legislation.

The bill was passed despite opposition from right-to-life MPs but remains subject to approval by the Guardians Council, a hardline body that screens all legislation to ensure it is in line with Islamic law and the constitution.

"We do not intend to give permission to kill an innocent person, but the birth of certain deformed children inflicts huge costs on the country and causing psychological trauma to themselves and the families," Noureddin Pirmoazen from the parliamentary health commission said.

Iranian women wishing to terminate a pregnancy currently have just two options - prove that their life is at risk or join the tens of thousands who go through dangerous illegal abortions every year.

According to local press reports, at least 80,000 illegal abortions are carried out in Iran every year but some believe the actual figure could be far higher.

Under the law in place now, the mother and whoever carries out the abortion face a jail sentence of between three and 10 years and have to pay blood money (the judicial price of life) for the child.

The new bill stipulates that both parents must consent to the abortion and three doctors as well as the coroner's office must confirm the diagnosis. Any doctor performing the procedure will no longer face punishment in such cases.

It was adopted by 127 of the 217 deputies present but none of the 13 women MPs entered the debate which kicked off on Sunday.

Some pro-life MPs challenged the argument about the need to abort deformed foetuses or the financial burden inflicted on families and voiced concern about parliament's ability to set a timeframe for when a foetus develops a "soul."

"We must respect the right to live. There are many families who happily take care of their handicapped children," said Mahmood Madani.

"Financial burden does not apply to all. Well-off families can hire help to raise the handicapped," objected Mohammad Hossein Esteki.

"Just because an illegal act is frequently happening we cannot put a seal of approval on that," argued Abbas Ali Akhtari.

But Pirmoazen from the parliamentary health commission quoted fatwas or religious edicts by the Islamic republic's supreme leader and grand ayatollahs backing his views on the financial burden and the development of the soul.

"Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi puts the development of the soul at four months and 10 days when the foetus starts moving in the womb or the 20 weeks of pregnancy agreed among doctors," Pirmoazen said.

"The ban on abortion has not reduced its occurrence but it has increased maternal deaths due to illegal abortion," he said Sunday.

 

Yemen warring parties back to peace talks table

UN warns Eastern Aleppo may soon become besieged

Is Erdogan-Davutoglu tandem coming to an end?

US troops facing growing risks in Iraq, Syria

Cafes, restaurants spring up in Tripoli

Malta likely to become first EU member to open Libya mission

Qaeda threatens to target homes of Yemen security forces

Anti-ISIS coalition pledges additional military commitment

London set to elect its first Muslim Mayor

Fierce fighting rages in Aleppo as diplomacy efforts intensify

Riyadh's $22.5 bn Metro project on track

Egypt court sentences prominent activist to six months in prison

UK to take in more Syria child refugees

France to host Saudi, Qatar, UAE, Turkey FMs for Syria talks

US expects more military resources for anti-ISIS fight

Standoff escalates between Egypt journalists and authorities

Turkey says ready to send ground troops to Syria 'if necessary'

Hamas accuses Fatah of organising military cell in Gaza

Egypt court acquits Mubarak's last PM

Israel to upgrade ties with NATO as Turkey lifts veto

Passengers injured as Etihad flight hits severe turbulence

Israeli tanks fire shots over Gaza border

5th edition of Middle East Homeland Security Summit to be held in Amman in November

Money and revenge push Syrians to jihadist ranks

EU conditionally backs visa-free travel for Turks, overhauls asylum system

Airstrikes resume in Damascus as fighting 'freeze' ends

Relief in Yemen's Mukalla after year of al-Qaeda rule

Saudi oil minister visits Sudan to cement improving ties

Warnings for Assad as Syria talks shift to Berlin

Fierce clashes rage in Syriaís Aleppo

OPCW warns ISIS may be making chemical weapons

French court says 'Carlos the Jackal' must face trial for 1974 attack

UN demands protection of hospitals in armed conflicts

Jewish settler who led burning alive of Palestinian teen receives life sentence

Italy ready to raise shipwreck off Libya coast

Heavy airstrikes kill dozens in ISIS Syria bastion

Deadly intra-rebel clashes rock eastern part of Syria capital

German 'jihadist' goes on trial for Syria war crimes

Number of people held in solitary confinement doubles in Israel

UN fears operation near Mosul will displace 30,000 more Iraqis

Turkey Nobel Laureate shows solidarity with veteran writer, Murat Belge

Russian FM hopes for Aleppo ceasefire in 'next few hours'

Israel Labour mulls break with British party over anti-Semitism claims

Saudi to ensure Binladin Group resolves wage issues

Tens of thousands of Shiite pilgrims flock to Baghdad shrine