Malaysia Dateline

Malaysia registers first case of zika virus infection

Muslim doctors call for ethics board amid fears over Zika pregnancies

An association representing Muslim doctors today urged the Ministry of Health to set up a medical bio-ethics advisory board comprising experts to look into medical cases that needed attention from the ethical point of view, as fears over the spread of the Zika virus led to a mufti allowing abortion for pregnant mothers infected with the viral disease.

The Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (IMAM) said the issue of termination of pregnancy (TOP) required “extreme care” as it involved issues of medical ethics linked to religion.

As such, IMAM deputy president Dr Jamali Wagiman said a medical bio-ethics advisory board could meet regularly to set best practice guidelines through  collective decision-making based on the Islamic principles of ijtihad after taking into account expert opinions from the fields of medicine and religion.

“This process of decision-making would be more safe and just to the mother and foetus, and would avoid unilateral decision-making which may cause conflicts between the practice of medicine and the tenets of the Shariah,” said Dr Jamali.

Federal Territories Mufti Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri this week said Islam allowed a pregnant mother infected with the Zika virus to abort their foetus.

The mufti’s office cited previous decisions made in Egypt and Saudi Arabia that had approved abortion in similar cases.

The FT mufti said abortion of foetuses before 16 weeks of pregnancy was allowed in the event the mother or the foetus is harmed.