Unintended pregnancies are common in Nigeria and a significant number end up in induced abortions. Many women opt for quick, secretive, and mostly, unsafe methods to induce abortion.
The Society of Gynecologists and Obstetricians of Nigeria estimates that about 20,000 Nigerian women die from unsafe abortions each year. In 2012, the Guttmacher Institute estimated that 1.25 million induced abortions occurred in Nigeria in women aged 15-49, which is equivalent to a rate of 33 abortions per 1,000 women.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), abortions are safe if they are done in a WHO-recommended method that is appropriate to the pregnancy duration and if the person providing or supporting the abortion is trained. Such abortions can be done using tablets (medical abortion) or via a simple outpatient procedure.
The WHO also recommends self-managed abortion with clinically-proven medicines, early on in pregnancy, as long as the pregnant person has a source of accurate information and access to a healthcare provider if needed. This is important, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic era where many women are unable to visit health facilities due to fear of contracting the virus.
Common Myths and Facts About Abortion in Nigeria
|Only young, unmarried women have abortions.||Women of all ages have abortions, regardless of their marital status.|
|Abortion causes infertility or death.||Safe abortions do not cause infertility or death.|
(Unsafe abortions cause complications, which can lead to infertility or death.)
|Only promiscuous women have abortions.||Women have abortions for different reasons.|
|I can’t get pregnant after an abortion.||You can get pregnant soon after an abortion, that’s why it’s important to get post-abortion contraception.|
Four Important Things to Do Before Having an Abortion
If you have an unintended pregnancy and plan to undergo an abortion procedure in Nigeria, there are four things you should do:
- Research the safest options available. When researching, consider the possible side-effects, the recovery period, care packages, etc. This will ensure that you are able to make an informed decision about your body. Our website, safe2choose.org, is a useful resource. We provide accurate, confidential, and comprehensive information on safe abortions, including in-clinic and at-home abortions. Our counselors are also available to guide you through the process.
- Prepare to get post-abortion contraception. We encourage visitors to our platforms to take up a form of contraception soon after an abortion. This helps to prevent a recurrence of an unintended pregnancy. Online resources, such as findmymethod.org, can help you learn about and compare various methods of contraception to suit your lifestyle.
- Talk to a professional. Despite Nigeria’s restrictive abortion laws, there are online platforms (www.safe2choose.org) that provide confidential and non-judgmental counseling and referral services. These platforms are beneficial for women who need safe abortions as well as reproductive health services. Alternatively, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the live chat option on our website. There are professional counselors available to speak to you. Please do not visit unqualified, unregistered ‘doctors’ who offer unsafe abortion services that can lead to complications.
- Surround yourself with a great support system. Try and speak about it with your partner or a friend who will support you throughout the process. Remember that only you have the right to make safe and informed decisions about your body.
Despite the criminalization of abortion in Nigeria, we understand that abortion is a basic healthcare service for women; as a result, digital platforms such as safe2choose have emerged.
safe2choose.org is an online counseling and informational platform that supports women who want a surgical or medical abortion and refers them to trusted, trained, and pro-choice healthcare providers.
Oluwapelumi Alesinloye-king is a sexual and reproductive health advocate and the Nigerian country consultant for womenfirstdigital.org