Thursday, May 05, 2005

Call for debate on abortion of thalassemic foetuses - DubaiInteract

A specialist has called for debate on whether the abortion of foetuses with the blood disorder thalassemia should be allowed in the UAE. Dr Essam Dohair from the Thalassemia Centre in Al Wasl Hospital made his comments in the run-up to International Thalassemia Day on May 8, said a report in the Dubai-based Gulf News.
Sufferers have severe anaemia and have to take medication daily and undergo regular blood transfusions to keep the condition at bay. However, the blood transfusions can lead to a potentially fatal accumulation of iron in the body.

Intermarriage among relatives is also a factor that increases the chances of a child having thalassemia. "Raising awareness about the disease is one of the major issues in the UAE. The concept now is to control thalassemia."

"We can diagnose the foetus and tell the parents whether it will have thalassemia." The issue of termination is not just a medical issue it's social as well. "We need the media to concentrate on this point, let us discuss it and reach an understanding about it," he said.

Dohair said that in some countries, the abortion of a foetus with thalassemia is allowed. For example, in 2002 in Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khameni issued a fatwa permitting the abortion of foetuses with thalassemia that were less than 10 weeks old.

Muslim scholars hold a wide range of opinions about whether abortion should be allowed under certain circumstances. In the UAE, abortion is generally permitted to save the life of the woman although not for other reasons such as if there is a foetal disorder or the woman has been raped.


It strikes me that the article gives too little attention to intermarriage as a cause. When abortion is being considered as an ethically acceptable option, then it is must be acceptable to examine choices in marriage partners from the perspective of ethics. In the words of Bill Clinton, abortion should be legal, but rare. We should make choices to make abortion rare.

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