Can a foetus be aborted?
Islam asserts the sacredness of a human being, and a foetus qualifies as a human being after the emergence of the soul. The traditions of the Prophet suggest that the human soul enters the foetus after a period of four months of conceiving. (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 4: 77-79) It is absolutely prohibited to abort the foetus after this point as it is tantamount to killing a soul. The only exception to this is if there is a significant risk to the life of the mother with the continuation of the pregnancy.
As for the stage prior to ensoulment (before four months), the prophetic traditions forbid abortion on the basis that the foetus is a potential human.(Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 4: 77-79) However, if the pregnancy is a cause of immediate or future unbearable mental, physical or societal hardship for the mother then the abortion is permitted by the application of the principle of lack of hardship (la ḥaraj) which illustrates that no Sharia rulings should cause any unbearable hardship for the believers. According to this overriding principle, no one should go through unbearable difficulty due to a perceived Islamic regulation. The decision to abort in such instances should be taken in consultation with a qualified medical practitioner.
However, contraceptive methods such as an intrauterine device (IUD) and the morning after pill are not classified as abortion.