TEHRAN - Iran's Guardians Council, a hardline body that screens all legislation, has rejected a highly contentious law that allowed abortions in limited cases, the student news agency ISNA reported on Monday.
"It is against sharia (Islamic law) to abort children who would inflict a financial burden on the parents after birth due to mental or physical handicap," ISNA said, quoting parliamentary sources.
Iran's conservative-dominated parliament decided last month -- in the face of opposition from religious right-to-life MPs -- that abortions be allowed within four months of gestation if the foetus was mentally or physically handicapped and would inflict a financial burden on the family.
At present, women in Iran can only get official approval for an abortion if their life is proven to be at risk because of a pregnancy, leading to a booming but dangerous backstreet business.
According to local press reports, at least 80,000 illegal abortions are carried out in Iran each year but some believe the actual figure could be far higher.
The legislation will now be referred back to parliament for amendments and if it is still opposed by the Guardians Council, Iran's top arbitration body the Expediency Council will make a final ruling.