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Tantawy rejects family planning laws.

CAIRO: Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawy denounced family planning laws that limit the number of children per household, but added that parents must be able to fully provide for their kids.

In a press conference this week, Tantawy said that the number of children a family decides to have is a "personal" choice, but stressed that Islam requires families to take full responsibility of their children.

"Parents should only have children they can provide for," Tantawy said.

If a father is unable to provide for his family, he added, it is permissible to revert to birth control methods.

Tantawy said the parents should unanimously agree on the number of children they want to have.

At the same time, he said that Islam forbids couples from resorting to permanent methods of birth control.

Moshira Khattab, minister of family and population, echoed Tantawy's sentiments. During a phone interview with a talk show on Al-Hayat TV, Khattab said that "giving birth to children should be in proportion with the family's financial abilities."

She also pointed out that "a proper understanding of religion is essential to implement birth control in Egypt."

However, some religious experts are against the practice.

Sheikh Al-Sayed Abdel Maqsoud Askar, member in the People Assembly's (PA) religious affairs committee, told Daily News Egypt that married couples should only resort to birth control methods if pregnancy is a health risk for the mother.

Askar claimed that Sharia forbids married couples from resorting to birth control for financial reasons.

While Tantawy said birth control is permissible in Islam if the parents want to wait before having more children, Askar disagreed.

In June 2008, the PA approved amendments to Child Law 12/1996, originally created by the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) after months-long debates.

The main proposed articles of the new law included raising the minimum age of marriage to 18, criminalizing female genital mutilation (FGM) and allowing the mother of an illegitimate child to issue a birth certificate for her child even if the father is not present.

The issue of birth control was not addressed by the new law.

The birth control debate is not unique to Egypt. Some pharmacists in the United States refuse to distribute birth control pills saying that it violates "religious and moral convictions."

China, on the other hand, a country of a 1.3 billion population, implements a one-child policy under its family planning law, in which the government restricts the number of children per household to one.

Daily NewsEgypt 2009

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Publication:Daily News Egypt (Egypt)
Date:Apr 22, 2009
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