Opinion: Isn’t it about time we legalized abortion in Nigeria?

by Obinna Nnewuihe

I had barely found time to catch what was less than a 2-hour nap when I was woken up in a haste… Doctor! Doctor! There’s an emergency!!! I arrived to find a young lady bleeding severely and struggling to hold on to what was her life slowly slipping away. She was crying, desperate and above all, terribly sick! She had gotten pregnant and had attempted to terminate the pregnancy herself. She heard from her friend that there was a ‘powerful’ drug that will wash the belle away ‘sharp sharp’. She didn’t even need to get to see the doctor sef, the drug can be gotten from one of the shops around and swallowed. No need for injection- easy and simple; or so it seemed. She almost paid the ultimate prize!

Nigeria’s policy direction on termination of pregnancy strongly discourages procuring voluntary abortions. The law is rather clear on this one: it is unlawful to carry out a voluntary termination of pregnancy unless certain criteria are met. Let me explain, you are not allowed to just walk into a hospital to request an abortion. A termination of pregnancy can only be carried out if it is determined by a doctor that a woman’s life is at risk. The penal and criminal codes spell it out. There is a 14-year jail term for administering an abortion, 7-year jail term for a woman who carries out the abortion and a 3-year jail term for selling any materials that could be used for terminating pregnancies. The law as amended for Lagos state makes one exception- the threat to the mother’s life is no longer the only requirement for legally procuring an abortion. In Lagos state, a pregnancy can be terminated if a woman has a significant medical condition caused by or worsened by the pregnancy.

Imo state had introduced legislation 4 years ago that permits a woman to terminate a pregnancy in cases of rape and incest but this was greeted with so much public outcry that it was totally repealed almost immediately. Arguments against the law included concerns about it encouraging promiscuity and committing wanton murder against an innocent child. Nigeria currently has one the highest rates for poorly done abortions and women who lose their lives as a result of carrying out an illegal abortion. One thing is certain- the current status quo is extremely troubling and must not be left to fester on. How we would go about it is an aspect that is still not very clear to most stakeholders.

Okay, so now that Valentine’s day and all the waka waka that comes with it has come and gone, some of us will be at the receiving end of all the escapades our fellow compatriots have been up to. Ah yes o, in a few weeks or months the fruits of your labors will arrive (I’m not one of them- I was on call on Valentine’s day please).

I cannot help but wonder, is there a better way to prevent needless loss of lives across the length and breadth of our nation? Will legalizing abortion significantly contribute to a decline in deaths from terribly done procedures? How do we regulate the sale of drugs that sadly, are now routinely used without due consultation to terminate pregnancies? How long shall young Nigerians continue to lose their lives in their prime?


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

 

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Comments

4 Comments

  • Gracia 'Ama' Ikpa says:

    ……Continued
    There is another way to solve the problem and it is not by legalizing abortion.
    What I would propose is a system or policies that support girls or ladies who become pregnant out of wedlock and married women who become pregnant after the agreed number of children they planned with their spouses.
    1. There should be more crises pregnancy centers that cater for school girls who get pregnant where they can have their babies and be able to put them up for adoption if they want.
    2. No to stigma: Just as we champion causes against stigmatization of people living with HIV or various other causes, let’s champion causes against stigmatization of unwed girls/single mothers. No girl should be made to dropout of school because she got pregnant.
    3. Family Support: This holds true for both unwed girls and some married women whose husbands don’t want an extra child. Dealing with an unplanned pregnancy is tough for both the girl/woman and her family. It’s more difficult if the father is also a teenager or unwilling to take responsibility. Let’s teach our boys how to take responsibility too. It would not be an easy task but it is doable.
    4. Psychological and Medical Support: Unplanned pregnancy always requires psychological support. It’s one of those few cases in medicine where ‘always’ holds true. From rape to incest to an unplanned pregnancy from a loving/once-loving relationship, all affected parties require this support. They also require optimal medical care especially for underage girls and teenagers with at-risk pregnancies. Unsafe abortions pose a life risk but so do unsafe pregnancies. To protect life we have to protect mother and child, that’s the ultimate way to reduce maternal mortality.
    Fulfilling these recommendations won’t be as easy as legalizing abortion but so that we aren’t paying lipservice to our oath to protect life from conception to natural death, we need to find a way to achieve them.

  • Grace Ikpa says:

    ….Continued
    There is another way to solve the problem and it is not the legalization of abortion.
    What I would propose is a system or policies that support girls or ladies who become pregnant out of wedlock and married women who become pregnant after the agreed number of children they planned with their spouses.
    1. There should be more crises pregnancy centers that cater for school girls who get pregnant where they can have their babies and be able to put them up for adoption if they want.
    2. No to stigma: Just as we champion causes against stigmatization of people living with HIV or various other causes, let’s champion causes against stigmatization of unwed girls/single mothers. No girl should be made to dropout of school because she got pregnant.
    3. Family Support: This holds true for both unwed girls and some married women whose husbands don’t want an extra child. Dealing with an unplanned pregnancy is tough for both the girl/woman and her family. It’s more difficult if the father is also a teenager or unwilling to take responsibility. Let’s teach our boys how to take responsibility too. It would not be an easy task but it is doable.
    4. Psychological and Medical Support: Unplanned pregnancy always requires psychological support. It’s one of those few cases in medicine where ‘always’ holds true. From rape to incest to an unplanned pregnancy from a loving/once-loving relationship, all affected parties require this support. They also require optimal medical care especially for underage girls and teenagers with at-risk pregnancies. Unsafe abortions pose a life risk but so do unsafe pregnancies. To protect life we have to protect mother and child, that’s the ultimate way to reduce maternal mortality.
    Fulfilling these recommendations won’t be as easy as legalizing abortion but so that we aren’t paying lipservice to our oath to protect life from conception to natural death, we need to find a way to achieve them.

  • Anonymous says:

    ……Continued
    There is better way to solve the problem and it is not legalizing abortion.
    What I would propose is a system or policies that support girls or ladies who become pregnant out of wedlock and married women who become pregnant after the agreed number of children they planned with their spouses.
    1. There should be more crises pregnancy centers that cater for school girls who get pregnant where they can have their babies and be able to put them up for adoption if they want.
    2. No to stigma: Just as we champion causes against stigmatization of people living with HIV or various other causes, let’s champion causes against stigmatization of unwed girls/single mothers. No girl should be made to dropout of school because she got pregnant.
    3. Family Support: This holds true for both unwed girls and some married women whose husbands don’t want an extra child. Dealing with an unplanned pregnancy is tough for both the girl/woman and her family. It’s more difficult if the father is also a teenager or unwilling to take responsibility. Let’s teach our boys how to take responsibility too. It would not be an easy task but it is doable.
    4. Psychological and Medical Support: Unplanned pregnancy always requires psychological support. It’s one of those few cases in medicine where ‘always’ holds true. From rape to incest to an unplanned pregnancy from a loving/once-loving relationship, all affected parties require this support. They also require optimal medical care especially for underage girls and teenagers with at-risk pregnancies. Unsafe abortions pose a life risk but so do unsafe pregnancies. To protect life we have to protect mother and child, that’s the ultimate way to reduce maternal mortality.
    Fulfilling these recommendations won’t be as easy as legalizing abortion but so that we aren’t paying lipservice to our oath to protect life from conception to natural death, we need to find a way to achieve them.

  • Anonymous says:

    ……Continued.
    There is a better way to solve the problem and it is not legalizing abortion.
    What I would propose is a system or policies that support girls or ladies who become pregnant out of wedlock and married women who become pregnant after the agreed number of children they planned with their spouses.
    1. There should be more crises pregnancy centers that cater for school girls who get pregnant where they can have their babies and be able to put them up for adoption if they want.
    2. No to stigma: Just as we champion causes against stigmatization of people living with HIV or various other causes, let’s champion causes against stigmatization of unwed girls/single mothers. No girl should be made to dropout of school because she got pregnant.
    3. Family Support: This holds true for both unwed girls and some married women whose husbands don’t want an extra child. Dealing with an unplanned pregnancy is tough for both the girl/woman and her family. It’s more difficult if the father is also a teenager or unwilling to take responsibility. Let’s teach our boys how to take responsibility too. It would not be an easy task but it is doable.
    4. Psychological and Medical Support: Unplanned pregnancy always requires psychological support. It’s one of those few cases in medicine where ‘always’ holds true. From rape to incest to an unplanned pregnancy from a loving/once-loving relationship, all affected parties require this support. They also require optimal medical care especially for underage girls and teenagers with at-risk pregnancies. Unsafe abortions pose a life risk but so do unsafe pregnancies. To protect life we have to protect mother and child, that’s the ultimate way to reduce maternal mortality.
    Fulfilling these recommendations won’t be as easy as legalizing abortion but so that we aren’t paying lipservice to our oath to protect life from conception to natural death, we need to find a way to achieve them.

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