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Question

There is a type of birth control pill that can be taken shortly after sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy. It is often referred to as the "day after" pill. What is the Islamic ruling on using this type of birth control?

Answered by

Sheikh Muhammad Muhammad Sâlim `Abd al-Wadûd
Scholars agree that an abortion after 120 days is prohibited except for a serious medical necessity.

With respect to an abortion before 120 days, scholars differ widely about the matter.

In spite of the variety of opinions expressed on this matter, a general principle emerges. This general ruling is that the earlier it is in the pregnancy, the greater the leniency is for an abortion. The more advanced the pregnancy is, the more restricted the matter becomes.

What you describe – the day after pill – would take the greatest measure of leniency, and that would be the case even if, hypothetically, it were known for sure that the woman is pregnant.

Moreover, there is no way to know that the woman is indeed pregnant in the case of the day-after pill. The probability that she is not pregnant is, in fact, far greater than the probability that she is pregnant.

Therefore, we say there is considerable flexibility in the matter, and we regard the day-after pill as being permitted as a form of birth control if there is a need for it.

And Allah knows best.