First Published: 2005-04-12

 
Iran parliament eases abortion law
 

Abortion bill still needs Guardians Council’s 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.

 

Netanyahu warns Congress: Nuclear deal will free Iran to develop weapons

Two killed in Cairo bomb blast

US controlling ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels

Yemen leader proposes reconciliation talks to be moved to Saudi

South Sudan's oil wells pose environmental hazard

Bottle of juice vs. outspoken critic of Israel domestic policies

UN approves sanctions regime for South Sudan

Arab states to mull creation of joint force against ‘Islamic State’

Libya tit-for-tat airstrikes target airport, oil terminal

Iran holds memorial service for ‘Afghan volunteers’ killed in Syria

South Sudan general accused of abducting child soldiers

Netanyahu takes fight over Iran nuclear ambitions to Congress

UN delegation meets Aleppo governor to push ‘freeze’ plan

Jihadists use urban warfare to slow Tirkit adavance

Libya warplanes strike militia-controlled airport

Egypt court cancels call for parliamentary elections in March

Saudi diplomat kidnapped by Qaeda in Yemen released

Obama lashes out at Netanyahu over Iran

Tunisia blogger jailed for 6 months for defaming army

Erdogan in Riyadh as Saudi Arabia seeks to re-energise foreign policy

Palestinians prepare to lodge first war crimes complaint against Israel

Turkey probes soldier for failure to resist ‘Islamic State’

US envoy to Yemen throws support behind President Hadi

Libya recognized parliament names Haftar as chief of armed forces

How Islamic is ‘Islamic State’?

Separate battles rage on against IS in key border area

Reconciliation with Iran proves far from simple for Hamas

Before UN rights panel, Kerry delivers vigorous defense of Israel

Turkey explores for oil in Iraqi Kurdistan

Two killed in Egypt bomb blast

Egypt leader visits Saudi Arabia

Syria opposition hails France's anti-Assad ‘exemplary’ stance

Police, anti-shale gas protesters clash in Algeria

Baghdad launches military operation to retake Tikrit

Netanyahu puts US-Israel ties under strain

First Iran flight lands in Huthi-held Yemen capital

Egypt President meets Saudi King Salman for talks on bilateral ties

Netanyahu flies to Washington to press case against Iran nuclear deal

Court ruling may force delay of Egypt parliamentary elections

Yemen separatists suspend participation in UN-sponsored talks

Scores dead as car bombs target crowded market in Iraq capital

Iran shrugs off Netanyahu bid to abort nuclear deal

Egypt lists Hamas as terrorist organisation

Jailed Kurdish leader calls on followers to lay down arms

Dozens dead as Qaeda takes strategic rebel base in Syria