Though abortions are illegal in Nigeria, according to the US-based Guttmacher Institute, statistics show that at least 1. 2 million induced abortions take place in various parts of Nigeria every year, with the highest number coming from the South-South part of the country, followed by the North-East and South-West. Furthermore, statistics show that 10,000 women die every year in Nigeria from unsafe abortions, carried out by untrained people in unsanitary conditions. This can be leveled down to 27 deaths a day. Abortions are legal, only when it is done to save the life of the woman and two physicians must certify that the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the woman. More than 456,000 unsafe abortions are done in Nigeria every year; the US Guttmacher Institute estimates.
The law also frowns strictly on abortions and provides accordingly in the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004. Which states in Section 228 that;
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.
Even women are prevented from trying to get rid of their babies, as Section 229 further states that;
229. Any woman who, with intent to procure her own miscarriage, whether she is or is not with child, unlawfully administers to herself any poison or other noxious thing, or uses any force of any kind, or uses any other means whatever, or permits any such thing or means to be administered or used to her, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.
Any person who decides to help another procure a miscarriage is also guilty of an offence as stated below in Section 230;
230. Any person who unlawfully supplies to or procures for any person anything whatever, knowing that it is intended to he unlawfully used to procure the miscarriage of a woman, whether she is or is not with child, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years.
Such offenders however cannot be arrested without an arrest warrant duly executed by the relevant authorities.
There are certain groups clamouring that provision should be made for people in peculiar situations other than a threat to life, such as where the woman was raped by an assailant. The question being asked is whether such women be forced to live with the results of the shameful act which they will always hurt to remember? This clashes with proponents of the school of thought that life is sacred and taking it should be resisted in all fronts, most especially via capital punishment.
The debates will definitely continue, however, as the law stands today, in Nigeria, abortions are illegal, except on the condition of saving the life of the mother.
What’s your opinion, should abortions be made legal?
Adedunmade Onibokun, Esq.