Prenatally diagnosed foetal malformations and termination of pregnancy: the case of Lebanon

Dev World Bioeth. 2011 Apr;11(1):40-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-8847.2010.00287.x. Epub 2010 Dec 7.


Termination of pregnancy (TOP) is offered in many countries, for foetuses prenatally diagnosed with congenital malformations that are deemed incompatible with life or that are associated with a high morbidity. In Lebanon, a middle income country where religion plays a focal role, the law prohibits any form of TOP unless it is the only means to save the mother's life. It is the contention of the authors of this article that even if the foetus is a person, if it were medically revealed that there is a substantial risk that the newborn will suffer severe physical abnormalities that will cause it to be seriously handicapped; it is morally acceptable to terminate the pregnancy. Hence, TOP carried out for these indications is justified in the interest of the foetus and the child. Whatever the status of the foetus is, once born, it will become a full-fledged sentient being with all that this entails. When given the option of starting an existence, this person-to-be has the right to a minimum that allows him/her to enjoy a relatively good quality of life. Today, Lebanese obstetricians are confronted with the burden placed on them under the law to refuse TOP, or, when performing them, to forge records or deny having done them. This is why we strongly believe that the Lebanese policy on abortion should be amended.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / ethics
  • Abortion, Induced / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Chemical Warfare
  • Choice Behavior / ethics
  • Congenital Abnormalities / diagnosis*
  • Counseling / ethics
  • Decision Making / ethics*
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Lebanon
  • Legislation, Medical / ethics
  • Legislation, Medical / standards
  • Legislation, Medical / trends*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Teratogens
  • Warfare


  • Teratogens