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A recent article in the Nigerian newspaper The Nation said, “Unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortion and terrible abortion laws are serious issues in women’s reproductive health/rights in Nigeria.”
Approximately 610,000 abortions are performed yearly in Nigeria, according to the newspaper. Teenagers between 15 and 21 years have more than 60 percent of the abortions, and unsafe abortions are the major factors in maternal death rates in this country. It is estimated that there are 800 deaths per 100,000 live births. According to experts, it is one of the highest rates in the world.
The Nation pointed out that the main reason for unsafe abortions is the restrictive abortion law in Nigeria, which only allows the termination of a pregnancy in order to save the life of the mother.
The law does not specify who should carry out an abortion.
In Nigeria, safe abortion is considered a taboo, according to The Nation. This is in lieu of the fact that in the last five years many policies were adopted about reproductive and sexual health and rights. However, these policies are not legally enforceable. According to The Nation, they are administrative guidelines, which need commitment on the part of the government to enact positive change. The article said, “Lack of political will on the part of the government will only continue to send our women to their early graves in large numbers, but despite all these, medical service providers, journalists and lawmakers, should ensure that that the obnoxious law is reversed to save the women.”
The newspaper called unsafe abortions “a silent and persistent pandemic.” It called for a review of the restrictive abortion laws.
Nigeria’s Criminal Code Section 228 to 230 regards abortion as a felony and a crime against the country. The code maintains, in part, that an abortion provider is liable for imprisonment for seven years. That, plus the fact that there is a social stigma attached to abortion, result in the fact that many health care providers are unwilling to give abortion services even though they may fall within the limits of the law.