by Chris Agabi
29 November 2010
Lagos — Health experts have called for the reform of Nigeria's abortion law, to make abortion more accessible to women with unwanted pregnancies.
Dr. Ejike Oji, the Country Director, Ipas Nigeria, who spoke to our correspondent at a three-day training for journalists on women's sexual reproductive health in Lagos, said: "Every 6 minutes, a woman dies as a result of an unsafe illegal abortion, obstructed labour, or hemorrhage, while for every woman that dies, 20 others are maimed for life. Also, when a mother dies, the mortality rate of children under five increases."
He attributed the deaths to provisions of the law that restricts abortion in Nigeria.
"Sections 232 and 233 of the Penal Code stipulates 14 years imprisonment for abortion except if it is done to save the woman's life while the Criminal Code in sections 228-230;297 stipulates 7 years," he said.
He said despite the narrowness of the law, available information from clinics, hospitals and surveys suggests, that the number of reported induced abortion, including unsafe abortion is on the increase.
Professor Bomi Ogedengbe, the only female Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in West Africa, told our correspondent that the abortion law in Nigeria must be reformed to protect women.
"Unsafe abortion in Nigeria is one of the five major causes of maternal mortality about 15- 25 per cent. If we prevent women from dying from unsafe abortions, we would have reduced maternal mortality by about 20 per cent. In developed countries, there is no such thing as unsafe abortion, they have safe abortions. Abortion is not just done randomly, it is for a reason. It is a form of treatment that should be provided either because the baby is abnormal or because it could kill the mother," she said.