[Oluwabusayo Sotunde]: 30 Things You Need To Know About Abortion And Maternal Death In Nigeria


According to WHO, abortion is defined as the discontinuation of a pregnancy before the attainment of viability, while unsafe abortion is defined as a procedure for terminating unwanted pregnancy either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking the minimal medical standards or both.

You really need to know about the following;

  1. Abortion is a highly emotional and controversial issue in Nigeria.
  2. In Nigeria, abortion is restricted and only permitted to save the life of the mother.
  3. Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. (Maternal death/mortality is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and the site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes).
  4. The recent WHO Statistics, Nigeria (and India) accounts for 1/3 of the global maternal mortality death.
  5. At least 760,000 abortions occur in Nigeria annually, mostly outside legal parameters.
  6. In 2010, Dr Obasanjo-Bello, chairman of the Nigerian Senate committee on health said Nigerian women have about 500,000 abortions every year. Guttmacher institute claims the number is as high as 610,000.
  7. From 3,000 to 34,000 women die yearly from unsafe abortion in Nigeria.
  8. Most abortion providers in Nigeria are poorly trained and the market is largely unregulated because of the country’s restrictive law.
  9. Victims of unwanted pregnancy seek clandestine (unsafe) abortion mostly because abortion is restricted in Nigeria.
  10. Poverty and traditional beliefs often drive women to seek quackery abortion services in Nigeria – leading to high mortality rate in Nigeria.
  11. Only half (1/2) of young Nigerian women surveyed in a 2005 study had heard of contraception.
  12. Lack of access to contraceptive and safe abortion services leads women in urban and rural areas in Nigeria to give birth to unwanted children.
  13. While 2/3 had had sex, only 11 percent of the surveyed Nigerian women had used contraceptive (and this is prevalent among its young people).
  14. For every 1 young girl that has died as a result of unsafe abortion, 20 others are impaired for life.
  15. One in four women (25%) having abortions experience serious complications and only 9% (about one third of those with complications) seek treatment.
  16. Complications of unsafe abortion are often life threatening.
  17. Restrictive abortion legislation in Nigeria has been identified as one of the major factors of its high mortality death rate and this has continued to endanger the lives of women.
  18. Abortion law in Nigeria is too restrictive and therefore, does not conform to fundamental human rights (see Penal Code: 232, 233).
  19. In Nigeria, abortion is legally restricted and carries a legal penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment for both the provider and the patient.
  20. Nigeria’s abortion law does not make provision in the case of rape, incest, and other form of sexual abuse.
  21. Of the 36 states in Nigeria, only Imo state has permitted abortion in cases of rape, incest or mental/physical health consequences for the mother.
  22. Abortion legislation remains controversial because of the country’s culture and religiosity. In 2012, Nigeria was identified as the second most religious country in the world by Gallup Poll).  
  23. Despite restrictive legislative law on abortion in Nigeria, abortion takes place anywhere, everywhere in Nigeria and mostly by quacks – contributing to the risk of women reproductive health.
  24. To reduce maternal mortality rate in Nigeria which is caused largely by unsafe abortions, the Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) and Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) with support from the Department For International Development (DFID) has amalgamated 9 different Bills to create the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill (VAPP Bill). The Bill is currently awaiting approval of the Senate for it to be passed into law.

25. When the #VAPPbill is passed into law, it may help to reduce maternal deaths arising from sexual violence.

5 Truths You Should Know About Abortion:

  • Abortion is a completely preventable cause of maternal suffering & death
  • The cheapest procedure for unsafe abortion is the deadliest and many people opt for the cheapest.
  • The burden is heavy but it has been lifted in many developed countries.
  • Access to contraceptive can lower high mortality rate.
  • Less restrictive laws can lower mortality rate by 70 percent –prevent unnecessary deaths, unsafe abortion and HIV/AIDs.


“The more restrictive legislation on abortion (is) the more likely abortion (is) to be unsafe and to result in death.”- (WHO).


Oluwbusayo Sotunde is a #Choice4Life Advocate, the leading team of Youth Voices on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women in Nigeria.. She tweets @BusayomiSotunde


About Laz Ude Eze

A public health physician, health systems consultant and an advocate for good governance, health equity and social justice. Authored the book, "A Companion to Practical Pathology" and founded HAPPYNigeria in 2006. I'm also a Brand Ambassador of Social Good Nigeria. To read my full profile, copy and paste this link on your URL and check it out >> http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=35254652&trk=tab_pro Your feedback on all posts are welcome. Follow me on twitter - @donlaz4u.

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