"Every well-meaning Nigerian must rise up and be vocal in denouncing any attempt to legalise abortion in Nigeria. Abortion is anti-God. It is against our culture. We should not kill a soul we cannot create. An unborn child has a right to live."
- Andrew Odigie, President, Catholic Knights of Ibadan Archdiocese
Any person who, with intent to procure miscarriage of a woman whether she is or is not with child, unlawfully administers to her or causes her to take any poison or other noxious thing, or uses any force of any kind, or uses any other means whatever, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.
- Nigeria's Criminal Code Act 228
The Nigeria Health Review 2006 says that about 10,000 Nigerian women die annually due to abortion-related complications. This is out of the more than 610,000 abortions carried out annually in the country. The report says that many more women, who survive the complications, suffer permanent disabilities.
- "Nigeria: Unsafe Abortion - Need to find a Lasting Solution (allAfrica.com)
"Women need to be educated about their rights over their body and given opportunities to plan their families, but it must be done in a way that protects public morality."
- Saving Nigerians from Risky Abortions, BBC Africa
We've all heard the "what would you do" scenarios...Wife/daughter/self gang-raped and becomes pregnant. Should abortion be an option? Or should she be forced to have the baby and perhaps, give it up for adoption?
With so many pressing issues in Nigeria, it's almost easy to see how abortion has sat on the back burner for so long. (Then again, our Ministhief ;) of Health has had some pressing issues of her own to deal with too). Being one of the people referred to in the allAfrica.com article as the "middle liners" (basically, in search of some approach that allows women to responsibly opt for abortions on a need basis, which would need to be well thought out), i would like to see a lasting solution to this issue, seeing as so many women are having these abortions regardless.
Anti-abortionist groups call for a change in focus from trying to legalize abortion to working to improve the care and support that women receive during pregnancy. But does that address the fact that there are women out there who still feel that abortion is their only option? And what about those who decide that it IS their only option, only to realize (too late) that it wasn't? Would legalizing abortion really lead to rampant promiscuity in our society? Perhaps, but the current law isn't working as is. So what next?
I apologize if this issue has been discussed in the past on other blogs, but I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this sensitive issue, especially your reactions to this BBC article. Read excerpt below:
Abortion is a taboo subject in Nigeria. The BBC couldn't find any woman who had an abortion willing to speak about it openly.
But 12 women responded to questionnaires about their experiences. The women were contacted though a doctor who arranges abortions by trained doctors at a medical clinic in the capital Abuja.
"People know I am into women's issues," she says, "so when a woman comes to an organisation looking for help, they send them to me." The doctor did not want to be identified because she feared the authorities would prevent her from providing a service she says saves lives.
All but one of the 12 women are single, and all are below the age of 27. Two are still in secondary school. Two women said they had abortions before, and two other women said their boyfriends refused to let them use contraception. Two attempts to change the law were stopped by conservative women's groups.
They say a change in the law would promote promiscuity, and weaken the moral fibre of Nigeria. "Making more abortions available is not the answer," says Saudata Sani, a female member of the House of Representatives for Kaduna state, in northern Nigeria. "Women need to be educated about their rights over their body and given opportunities to plan their families, but it must be done in a way that protects public morality."
Other medical specialists say that the law is just a part of the picture.
"Even if it was possible to get a legal abortion, many women would not be able to get a safe one," said Dr Francis Ohanyido, the president of the International Public Health Forum.
"Medical facilities vary widely and it is almost impossible to guarantee quality."
Cultural taboos mean even if there was a clinic in their town, it would be impossible for most women to go there, he said.
Among the 12 women the BBC questioned, five said they believed it would be wrong to make abortion more easily available. Sharle, a 25-year-old university student, who had an abortion so she could continue her education, said she regretted what she did, saying it was against God's commandments.
Also check out pyoo wata's post on/endorsment of Dr. Ejike Oji, an advocate of women's reproductive rights.
Meanwhile, if you happen to be in the NYC area, be sure to check out the African Film Festival this week (April 9 to May 26th) as it showcases African cinema at its finest.