ABORTION: Should it remain illegal or not? 

Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy, closely followed by the death of the foetus or embryo. It is a crime according to the Nigerian law for both the penal code and the criminal code. For the criminal code, the person carrying out the abortion for the woman is guilty of felony and up to 14 years imprisonment while the woman obtaining the abortion is guilty of felony and up to 7 years imprisonment. Also, anybody providing anything for the abortion is guilty of felony and up to 3 years imprisonment. All in sections 228, 229 and 230 respectively. For the penal codes, it is contained in section 232, 233 and 234 and it includes imprisonment, fine or both. Nevertheless, should abortion be a crime in Nigeria considering the our issue of overpopulation and the rate of unwanted/unplanned pregnancies?

Nigeria is by far an overpopulated country. It is the most populated country in Africa and also the 7th most populated country in the world. Nigeria is said to likely take over U.S.A to become the 3rd most overpopulated country in the world[1]. This isn’t exactly good news because it means that measures and policies to control overpopulation should be put in place. 

In order to tackle a problem, we must find the cause. One of the major causes of overpopulation in Nigeria is increase in birth rate which is caused by advancement in medicine that has resulted in the availability of fertility treatment, thereby solving the problems of infertility and leading to safer pregnancies. Other causations of overpopulation include lack of education, decrease in death rate, immigration and so on. Since increase in birth rate is one of the major reasons for overpopulation, it is only normal that it is tackled first. The most adopted meduim for control of overpopulation in countries is ‘THE TWO-CHILD POLICY‘.

The TWO-CHILD POLICY is not a new policy to the world. The policy is basically a government imposed limit of two children allowed per family or the payment of government subsidies only to the first two children. It has been adopted by quiet a number of countries to control overpopulation and should also be applied in Nigeria, given the current state of the country. This policy will also help to educate Nigerian women about birth control and family planning. Due to illiteracy, a lot of women do not know it is possible to control their fertilization or the amount of children they give birth to. This policy will not only educate them on that, but also enlighten them on the merits of not having a lot of children. The two-child policy has worked in counties like The United Kingdom, China, Iraq, Hong Kong, Singapore and Iran, but the policy was only effective because abortion is legal in most of those countries, making it easier for women to abide by the policy. Of course, it’ll be next to impossible if women who have no access to induced abortion were asked to limit the amount of children they give birth to. 

Although there are measures to prevent unwanted pregnancies such as birth control which includes family planning, pregnancy prevention, fertility control or contraception. Birth control can either prevent fertilization of eggs or implantation of eggs in the uterus. The different methods of this entail vasectomy, condoms, IUDs, birth control pills and tubal litigation . Despite the different methods, a lot of Nigerian women do not make use of birth control either because of their religious/superstitious beliefs or lack of awareness. Also, these control measures are not always effective and may have negative side effects sometimes. In spite of what has just been said, unwanted pregnancy is still a problem in Nigeria.

The issue of unwanted pregnancy is not uncommon among teenage girls and adults in Nigeria. Asides from the issue of overpopulation, unwanted pregnancies have a lot more other side effects which includes crime, effects of unsafe abortion, financial stability problems, inadequate health care for new borns. While in cases of teenage girls, it may cause them to drop out of school, medical complications for mother and child, emotional crisis for the teenager, depression etc. Of course there are ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies, but as I said earlier, they are not always effective. 

Despite the fact that abortion is illegal in Nigeria, 1.25M abortions occurred in 2012 between women of age 15-49 years and 212,000 of them were treated for complications of unsafe abortion while 285,000 experienced serious health consequences but did not receive the required treatment [2]. 50,000 Nigerian women die yearly due to the complications of unsafe abortions and majority of them were teenagers and school girls [3]. On the other hand, 88% of women who have had abortion by professionals (I.e safe abortions) in their first trimester have 0.5% risk of serious complications and do not have problems with fertility or child birth[4]. 

Now, what is unsafe abortionAbortion is considered to be unsafe when pregnancy is terminated by persons lacking the required skills or medical equipments. A lot of Nigerian women, especially teenage girls patronize wack doctors or use crazy means to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Some of them even use dry gin, ‘ogogoro’, caffeine, mixture of lime and so on because it is almost impossible to get a qualified doctor to carry out safe abortion, due to the fact that the act is illegal. So in the end, some of those women end up with serious complications, or worse, dead. While the ones who were unable to terminate the pregnancies end up giving birth to children they can’t cater for. Some of them eventually dump those babies by the road side, in the gutters or refuse bin. Others who don’t dump the children manage to raise them but in a terrible state, leaving some of those kids to turn to crime in order to cater for themselves. 
A system does not care about the needs and survival of helpless pregnant teenage girls/women who are not capable financially or the wellbeing of the kids of those women is in no position to dictate to women what they can or cannot do with their pregnancy. How do you take a civil right away from people because your religion forbids it and not provide a compensating alternative for the persons whom you’re depriving of the right? I mean, if abortion must be a crime, then there should be a system set up to take care of motherless babies or helpless nursing mothers or pregnant women. But all we get here is pregnant women begging by the road sides, kids with no parental care roaming around the street, begging for money. After all, they are citizens of Nigeria. You can bet its a bunch of men that came together to make such ridiculous law, not caring whatever circumstance could have led to the need to terminate the pregnancy. Imagine making a rape victim who got pregnant keep such pregnancy, isn’t that dreadful? Women should be given the right to choose. If we stop being hypocritical, we can see that legalizing abortion is safer because as long as it remains illegal, unsafe abortion will not get better, therefore, the rate of medical complications and deaths due to unsafe abortions will only get worse. Legalizing it will save women from unnecessary health complications and deaths. The country will also be able to control overpopulation. 

LEGALIZING ABORTION DOESN’T MAKE IT COMPULSORY, so if your religion/beliefs are against it, feel free to abstain from it. What you cannot do is impose that belief on everyone. Sentiments should be put aside so we can be realistic. 

But its only my opinion, you can share yours by commenting in the comment box below. Thank you for reading, please share, comment and follow my blog.

[1] http://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/06/nigeria-become-3rd-populous-country-2050-un-report/

[2] https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/ipsrh/2015/10/incidence-abortion-nigeria

[3] http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/192661-%E2%80%8B%E2%80%8B50000-%E2%80%8Bnigerian-%E2%80%8Bgirls-die-of-abortion-complications-annually-nma.html

[4] https://prochoice.org/education-and-advocacy/about-abortion/abortion-facts/

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