Nigeria: Gynaecologists, obstetricians, seek liberalization of abortion laws

 

The Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON), has called for the liberalization of restrictive abortion laws in Nigeria to enable women access appropriate healthcare.

President of the Society, Prof Oluwarotimi Akinola, who addressed reporters in Calabar after their 52ndAnnual General Meeting and Scientific Conference, said evidence all over the world has shown that the number of abortions do not increase due to the liberalization of the law.

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Akinola also 120 Nigerian women die every day from pregnancy related complications.

“If 120 people die in plane crashes every day, you will realize the government would have grounded that airline. But because the incidences are all isolated, the attention is not there and we think it is not right. Every effort should be geared to saving these women because we believe women should not lose their lives while trying to give life,” he appealed.

He said that the present Abortion Law passed around 1931 in England and reviewed on a regular basis, is still what operates in Nigeria.

His words, “The last tinkering was probably in 1968. The Abortion Law in Nigeria simply says that it is illegal to procure abortion except in very strict condition to save maternal life, and that law forces our women because what they say is that when a woman is convinced that the pregnancy she is carrying cannot continue, there is almost nothing you can do. She would do that and procure abortion whether you offer it safely or not. All we are saying is that when there is a need to procure abortion, please let it be done safely.

“The whole world has shown that even when you say abortion law is liberal, it has not increased the number of people who go for abortion. It has been demonstrated all over the world that liberalization of the law does not lead to a greater uptake of abortion. So that we now define abortion as safe and unsafe. An unsafe abortion is when it is done in an environment that is not proper, done by somebody who is not skilled and not using appropriate technology and it is a major contributor to maternal mortality ratio in Nigeria.”

He appealed to journalists should make policy makers aware that there is indeed a need to save these women from dying.

Akinola also pointed out that cervical cancer is also another scourge facing women in the country.

“What we have discovered that when our women do not die from pregnancy related issues. When they survive and reach the age of 38 and above, we condemn them to die from cervical cancer. We also lose 10 to 30 women daily to cervical cancer in this country. It is a very debilitating disease. It is a major issue. More should be done by the government, and the press to help in addressing these issues.

“Technology is devising ways to make it possible. We are now aware and that is one of the things we did at this conference, we have the technology now in future to avoid cervical cancer because if you vaccinate a young woman, she is not likely to develop cervical cancer. That is proven and that is why we are committed also to eradicating cervical cancer from this country. We are talking to the press, the government, the women groups and NGOs. We intend to actually upscale our efforts at building these collaborations,” he said.

He said SOGON provided free treatment to over 400 women at two different communities with different health conditions, as well as free cervical cancer screening for over 300 women.

Among resolutions adopted at the meeting was the need for partnerships and strengthening systems to reduce maternal mortality in the country.