Friday, 30 January 2009

Induced abortion, major cause of maternal mortality

“Of the main causes of maternal mortality, unsafe abortion is the single most preventable cause of death” states the sixth periodic report of Nigeria to the CEDAW Committee. It has been estimated, that more than 456.000 unsafe abortions take place every year in Nigeria, as a result of the restrictive abortion law which permits abortion only to safe a pregnant woman's life. Nigeria loses about 34.000 women every year due to induced abortion and the complications. As a matter of fact, a number of complications have been reported to have stemmed from the process of trying to carry out an abortion. Such complications including severe bleeding, pain and fever are obviously life-threatening and could lead to death if proper post- abortion treatments are not carried out.

It has been argued that a cross-section of Nigerian women who are not educated wants to have as many children as possible, but they suddenly realize that with the economic situation and the cost of raising many children, they have to device means of reducing the number of children they bear. That is not to say that only uneducated Nigerians engage in abortion practices; even the educated class who fail to adopt family planning techniques find themselves in tight corners.Induced abortion is basically a deliberate attempt to terminate a pregnancy prematurely. Several methods have been associated with the practice, mostly determined by the financial status and the level of exposure as well as the amount of information a pregnant woman is armed with.Although quiet a number of abortions are done in the hospitals, yet the high toll of death occurring from unsafe abortions performed by quacks and through other unprofessional means still remain worrisome. Findings have revealed that an average of 760, 000 induced abortions occur annually with the methods adopted ranging from consulting a local chemist, a traditional healer to ingesting tablets, while a lot of abortions are carried out by the patients themselves.

Several factors may be responsible for terminating a pregnancy; it is indispensable to state at this junction that an unsafe abortion is dangerous and should not be encouraged. There is a need for urgent re-orientation of the Nigerian women about abortion and its consequences. It is not a gainsaying that the avoidance of an unwanted pregnancy through the use of effective family planning techniques administered by a qualified medical practitioner could reduce maternal mortality by an appreciable percentage.Lastly, an effective abortion law and reproductive right should be given priority in order to address maternal health and right with emphasis on the post abortion care; which can be achieved by the co-operation between the government, stakeholders, NGOs and international organizations.

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