9 June 2011

Following the alarming rate of deaths from complicated pregnancy and unsafe abortion in the country, a reproductive health expert, Dr.Ejike Oji has called on the 7th National Assembly to review the nation’s abortion laws.

Dr.Oji made the call at a 3-day,Ipas media training for journalists on women’s sexual reproductive health and rights, held at the Imo Concord Hotel, Owerri, pointing out that the abortion laws in Nigeria were not only obsolete, but have contributed to the burden of maternal mortality rate in the country.

He lamented that the case of abortion law in Nigeria that allows abortion only when the life of the woman was in danger, was no longer acceptable as it has sent many women and girls to their early grave owing to activities of quacks .

According to him, the restrictive abortion laws that is in Nigeria’s statues books was derived from the Offences Against Persons Act of England of 1861 ,which he said was over due for change as it does not address special needs and challenges of women,such as rape, incest and their health conditions .

The Gynaecologist who is also the Country Director of Ipas Nigeria, argued that since the law restricted people from procuring abortion in skilled and government facilities, the people are not left with any other choice other than to patronize quacks.

He revealed that out of thousands of pregnant women and girls that procured abortion from quacks, only few live to tell the story, but not without deformities such kidney damage and the total removal of the uterus resulting from complications.

He pointed out that unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion are critical health problems in Nigeria as they contribute to over 50 percent of the 52,000 women that die in Nigeria every year from maternal mortality.

The reproductive health consultant maintained that, except the law was reviewed, “our women would continue to die from preventable abortion deaths” insisting that no amount of intervention would address the challenge .

In one of his lectures entitled’ Should we let them die?’ Oji observed that the use of modern contraception which helps reduce cases of unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion was low as result illiteracy and lack of access to information.

According him information on reproductive health issues and rights should be made available to the women especially those in the rural areas in order to make the right choice and decisions that affect their health while appealing to government to make modern contraception available to them.

He asserted that in a case of rape, instead of the victim to die in the hands of quacks in the name of unsafe abortion, it would be morally right to legally offer such services to the victim at government facility, where she would get 95 percent success and still move on in life, than terminate her life on the bases of restrictive law.