THE IMPORTANCE OF LEGALIZING ABORTION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF CHILD SUPPORT IN NIGERIA

Nigeria is governed by two laws, namely: The Penal code widely applicable in the north, and The Criminal code widely applicable in the south; and both laws criminalize abortion. The abortion laws of the Criminal Code are expressed within sections 228, 229, and 230; Section 228 states that any person providing a miscarriage to a woman is guilty of a felony and up to 14 years of imprisonment. Section 229 states that any woman obtaining a miscarriage is guilty of a felony and up to imprisonment for 7 years. Section 230 states that anyone supplying anything intended for a woman’s miscarriage is also guilty of a felony and up to 3 years of imprisonment. While The Penal Code’s abortion laws are contained in sections 232, 233, and 234. The sections of the Penal Code are similar to the Criminal Code, besides the exception for abortion with the purpose of saving the life of the mother. The Penal Code’s punishments include imprisonment, fine, or both [1].

However, there are no laws for child support or child custody in Nigeria for unmarried parents, even though there was a binding convention signed in 1992 by all members of the United Nations, called United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which was formally ratified by, and it declared that the upbringing and development of children and a standard of living adequate for the children’s development is a common responsibility of both parents, and a fundamental human right for children[3], Nigeria nevertheless has refused to make provision for a child support law.  This means that the country either assumes that there are no children born out of wedlock in Nigeria, or that women should be solely responsible for unplanned pregnancies. Judging from the amount of single mothers in slums, Nigerian celebrities with more than one “baby mama” and the accompanying “drama” in most cases, it is safe to conclude that the former is not the case, as it is obvious that not only married couples have kids in Nigeria. This leaves us with the latter case, which is that the Government’s silence on the matter implies that women are expected to be solely responsible for unplanned parenthood, and adding insult to injury, these women have the law that prevents women from getting an abortion hanging on their necks.

 

Nigeria as a country prides itself in its “highly religious” stand on matters, with majority of her citizens holding either Christian or Islamic views, the tenets of these beliefs contributes greatly to the law which marks abortion as illegal. Even with the explosion in the rate of population growth and the simultaneous increase in the rate of poverty, abortion remains illegal. A great number of women have complications, sometimes even fatal ones from unsafe abortions carried out by practitioners not qualified to do so, and even more women rush in attempting to take control of an unplanned situation due to the fact that they are to be held responsible for it, yet abortion remains illegal. One thing is clear, the lives of the women who die from unsafe abortions do not matter, but the men can choose to impregnate women and not be active fathers to the children who carry half their DNA, because the law that governs this country does not hold men responsible for such things, so neither nature nor the law holds them responsible.  . Women have to deal with unplanned motherhood because they cannot choose to terminate pregnancies that they do not want (even though it is their body and they basically carry all the risks that come with having a child), the law also does not entitle women to any support whatsoever from their co-parent in such cases.

 

Some “baby mama drama” occurred recently between a popular musician and his first baby mama, and the episode induced a lot of ‘hot takes’ on social media. Apparently Musician W had never been around for any of his first son’s birthdays, he also had to be begged several times before paying his son’s school fees and other related expenses, ignoring Baby Mama X’s calls and messages had become the norm for him. The single mother also shared a story of how friends of the Musician W told her how the celebrity asked the child (the son who was 4 years old at the time) to fondle with parts of grown women in a sexual manner, and even made items such as a weed crusher available to the child. However terrible the above stated scenario may sound, it’s not nearly as nauseating as some of the opinions on the issue on social media such as; “she (baby mama X) could have ‘simply aborted’”, knowing fully well that abortion is a crime in Nigeria and that women die yearly from it http://bimboajao.com/abortion-should-it-remain-illegal-or-not/ . Other ‘hot takes’ include; “women who decide not to abort unplanned pregnancies should be financially independent and not expect financial help from their co-parent”, while others simply think that once the man whose sperm fertilizes the egg inside a woman tells the woman in question to terminate the pregnancy and she refuses, then the man should not be held responsible for the upkeep of the child; ignoring the fact that this man could have prevented the pregnancy by using a condom. Some even say “she should be happy he contributes financially”, all these opinions breeds nothing but fear as to what the future holds for sexually active, unmarried women in Nigeria.

 

Seeing as thousands of women in Nigeria suffer from the complications of unsafe abortions yearly, because safe abortion is illegal, expensive and inaccessible, Nigeria consciously or unconsciously continues to hinder the rights of women over their bodies. While two-third of the women in the world presently live in countries where abortion is legal on request [2], here in Nigeria we have women risking their lives by using all sorts of drugs and concoctions that they know nothing about, in an attempt to terminate unwanted pregnancies, because they do not have access to safe abortions. Making abortion legal will not only save the lives of women who die from unsafe abortions, but it will also help people escape unplanned parenthood, men and women alike.

Regardless of whether induced abortion is legal or illegal, asking women to terminate pregnancies simply because men have decided only after pregnancy occurs, that they do not wish to be fathers, is a huge NO, due to the fact that women should have the right to decide what goes in their bodies, because if there are any risks with the pregnancy or abortion, it PRIMARILY affects their bodies, their lives. The truth about unwanted pregnancy is that the man had the option of either using a condom or pulling out (both options have zero risks and side effects on the man by the way), refusing to do either of the two means leaving the carrier of the pregnancy with the ultimate choice. So even if abortion becomes legal in Nigeria, females are not obligated to terminate pregnancies in order for men to escape unplanned parenthood. Both parties are equally responsible if unprotected sex leads to unwanted pregnancy, and both parties should be held responsible for the upkeep of the child, regardless of whose idea it was to keep the pregnancy.

Quite a number of people are of the opinion that financial responsibilities are as far as fatherhood should go, therefore as long as a man provides money for his kid, he is a good father. On the contrary, children are entitled to the time and attention of both parents, not just because they need both mother and father figures in their lives, but also so they do not feel neglected or unwanted by their parents.

 

In countries like U.S, child support is usually paid by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent, based on a certain percentage of what the parent(s) earn. Where one parent refuses to pay child support, depending on the amount of years not paid, the defaulter may be imprisoned for 6 months or more, the noncustodial parent is also obligated to spend a specified amount of time with the kid; this excellent system further shows that financial provision alone is not enough. Implementing a law that will ensure that both the man and the woman are held responsible for unplanned pregnancies will help save a lot of single mothers the stress of having to play the role of mother and father. It’ll also help cater to the innocent children who didn’t ask to be brought into this world in order to be neglected by one of their parents.

Children have the right to be catered for and it is up to the country to take responsibility by providing systems that will ensure that children are equipped with all the necessary tools and nourishment that they need to grow, and be useful in adding value to the society and world.

 

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_Nigeria

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_law

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_support

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