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Unsafe abortion: Millions of women at risk, hundreds dying in Nigeria – IPAS

………Says by outlawing abortion, Nigeria reneges on protocol to protect women

Unsafe abortion: Millions of women at risk, hundreds dying in Nigeria – IPAS
Unsafe abortion: Millions of women at risk, hundreds dying in Nigeria – IPAS

By Charles Joseph

July 26, 2020 - An international non-government organization (IPAS) says hundreds of women in Nigeria die every day from complications arising from unsafe abortion.

The NGO stresses that every eight minutes, a woman dies in a developing country due to unsafe abortion, insisting that the figure was way higher if those who do not visit hospitals were factored.

Mr Lucky Palmer, Country Director of Ipas (Nigeria), said on Sunday that despite restriction, Nigeria contributes to the 40 million abortions carried out annually.

Palmer who spoke at a three-day “Media Training for Journalists on Women’s Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights/Global Gag Rule’’, said that almost half of the 85 million pregnancies recorded end up in abortion.

He said that Africa and Latin America accounted for the highest number of unsafe abortions globally, adding that 98 per cent of recorded unsafe abortions were from the regions.

Palmer expressed sadness that Nigeria was yet to reform restrictive domestic laws and policies that placed women and girls’ health and lives at risk; as well as preventing them from exercising rights that the government had committed to under the international law.

The IPAs country representative added that in 2012 alone, 1.25 million Nigerian women had an abortion, doubling the number estimated in 1996.

He emphasised that unless urgent steps were taken, the number would keep increasing because only 16 per cent of all women of reproductive age were using any contraceptives, and just 11 per cent using modern methods.

“That results in almost 10 million unintended pregnancies, of which more than half end in an induced abortion,’’ he said.

The country director attributed this worrying global health challenge to the Global Gag Rule, noting that the training of journalists to help with awareness and advocacy, was one of the ways the organisation was exploring to tackle the issue.

He said a big burden was on the media to work closely with relevant organisations in curbing the menace.

Palmer urged the media to liaise with relevant agencies in advocating for the enforcement of laws and domestication of Violence Against Persons Prohibition

Act, to promote women’s sexual rights and health, create awareness, as well as educate the public on consequences of unsafe abortions.

Speaking on International Commitments to Women’s Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, one of the workshop facilitators, Mrs Doris Ikpeze, said women’s health was more than a health policy, it was an issue of human right which was constantly being violated by bad policies and laws, weak institutions and societal norms.

Ikpeze said that this was in spite of the ratification of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol) of 2004 by Nigeria.

She said Nigeria had, by ratifying the protocol, effectively pledged to protect the rights of women and girls and guarantee their rights to sexual and reproductive health.

According to her, the protocol urges all ratifying countries to protect the reproductive rights of women by authorising medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother, or the life of the mother or the foetus.

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