Abortion, also known as termination of pregnancy-is when a pregnancy is ended so it does not result in the birth of a child.
Pregnancy can be terminated medically or Surgically ;that is either by the pregnant woman being offered 2 sets of tablets (before 9weeks gestation)or surgically-involving a local or general anaesthetic or sedation and a minor operation to remove the pregnancy tissue.
In Nigeria, abortion is only legally permitted to save a woman’s life, which means many induced abortions are unsafe and secretive.
Unsafe abortion is one of the most significant and preventable causes of maternal death and injury in Nigeria. According to a research by (Bankole,2006) the result suggests that approximately 760,00 abortions occur each year; and that approximately 142,000 women are treated each year for complications from unsafe abortion (Henshaw 2008)
The fact that culture and religion impacted Africans perception and belief on various health issues from fertility to contraception and of course abortion further complicated the issue of safe post abortion care, either spontaneous or surgical termination.
I must add though, that Africa is not the only Continent/Country where religious views on abortion posed a danger to women and girls.
The shame and condemnation attached to abortion have fuelled the emergence of ‘Quack’ and unqualified people setting up shop and charging exorbitant amount of money to help women get rid of their babies and therefore sparing them and their families the wrath of the community.
Unfortunately some government hospitals are not ell equipped to handle the situation and this group of women are sometimes treated with contempt.
The resultant effect though, is that many lives, especially that of young girls are lost due to incomplete abortion nor using unsterile instruments leading to infection and other complications like excessive bleeding.
Nigeria, with an estimated population of 140million,also have one of the highest maternal mortality ratios between 800 and 1,100 deaths per live birth.
Reproductive health services, including safe abortion and contraception remains elusive for the majority of Nigerian women. The government hospitals are often overwhelmed with women seeking treatment for complications of unsafe abortion.
So,we are back to the crucial but often ignored ‘Education and awareness’ to empower women so they can make informed decisions and choices on issues pertaining to their lives and that of future generation.
There is light at the end of the tunnel though, we some government hospital and nongovernmental organisations working in partnership, to train health care providers, educate the women and offer safe post abortion care and post partum contraception .
One such organisation, Ipas have made significant difference to this group of women’s experience as well as reducing the risk of death post abortion. The Country as a whole will benefit from expansion and sustenance of such services.