Assalaam Alaikum,

I am a medical student in Ontario; my question is about medically assisted dying and abortion. As both of these are forbidden in Islam and Christianity, the college of physicians has provided a workaround for those with religious objections in the form of providing patients with “an effective referral.” The CPSO defines this as “taking positive action to ensure the patient is connected to a non-objecting, available, and accessible physician, other healthcare professional, or agency.” For more information, see https://www.cpso.on.ca/Physicians/Policies-Guidance/Policies/Professional-Obligations-and-Human-Rights. Some Christian physicians have objected to this, saying they feel that even referring to another physician is against their beliefs as they feel they are still facilitating something immoral. My question is, what is the Islamic view on providing an effective referral? Is this permissible as I would not be directly involved with providing any of the impermissible services?

Wa Alaykum al-Salam

Thank you for your question.

I understand your question to refer to the situation where a patient asks a physician to abort her fetus, but this conflicts with the physician’s religious beliefs. If he or she refers the patient to a non-objecting physician, is this permissible in Islam?

Firstly, abortion is not always impermissible in Islam. There are instances where it may be permitted. Doctors who are often faced with this challenge should consult the scholars to determine the circumstances in which abortion is and is not permissible. See here for more detail: https://seekersguidance.org/answers/shafii-fiqh/what-are-the-rules-regarding-abortion-during-the-first-40-days-of-pregnancy/.

Having said that, if the doctor is under a mandate to refer patients to “non-objecting” practitioners, to do so is permissible. The doctor should advise the patient of the psychological harms of abortion and the reasons for discouraging it. However, the doctor cannot force this belief on the patient. Advising the patient that she may consult another physician is not sinful, especially if the patient does not ascribe to a religion that deems abortion impermissible.

This is similar to the grocer who says to his customer, “I do not sell alcohol, but you can try elsewhere.” He is not encouraging the customer to drink or sin; he is merely advising what the customer already knows – that he can look elsewhere.

And Allah knows best.
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan received ijazah ’ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.