A new study, ‘The incidence of abortion in Nigeria’, has revealed an increase in abortion rate in the country from 61, 000 in 1996 to an estimated 1.25 million in 2012 due not only to greater population size, but also to an apparent rise in the abortion rate.
The research conducted by Guttmacher Institute and the University of Ibadan, finds that 1.25 million Abortions were performed in the country in 2012, compared with the 61, 000 abortions estimated to have occurred in Nigeria in 1996.
The research also showed that in spite of Nigeria’s highly restrictive abortion law, the estimated abortion rate was 33 Abortion per 1, 000 women aged 15-49 in 2012. Although this rate is greater than the 1996 rate (23 per 1, 000) estimated in a previous study, the most prudent conclusion may be that the abortion rate has increased slightly, as the two rates were calculated using different approaches.
Nationally, one in seven pregnancies (14%) ended in induced abortion in 2012. Within Nigeria, rates of abortion according to the research vary: in 2012, there were 27 abortions per 1, 000 women aged 15-49 in the South West and North Central zones; 31 per 1, 000 in the North West and South East Zones; and 41 and 44 per 1, 000 in the North East and South South zones, respectively.
The proportion of pregnancies ending in induced abortion explained the research was lowest in the South West with 11%, and highest in the North East with 16% and South South with 17%. The higher rates of abortion in the North East and South South zones shows in the study can be explained by two of the main underlying factors that increase women’s need for abortion: the desire for smaller families by women in the South South with lowest desired number of children at an average of 3.9 and the nonuse of contraception by women in the North East as only 3% are using a method.
Director, International Research, Guttmacher Institute, New York, Dr. Akinrinola Bankole, disclosed this while briefing Newsmen yesterday in Abuja at an event organized by IPAS in collaboration with the Guttmacher Institute and University of Ibadan.
According to him, “That most of these abortions were clandestine and many were unsafe and an unsafe abortion is a major contributor to Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate, which remains among the highest in the world.”
He said, “Clandestine procedures are often Carried out under unsanitary Conditions by providers who are not appropriately trained and the resulting complications ranges from unchecked bleeding to serious infections and even death. When contraception is not used or fails, the evidence suggests that women with unwanted pregnancies often have unsafe abortions that put them at risk for adverse consequences.”
Speaking in similar vein, Prof. Isaac Adewole, of the University of Ibadan, who also authored the study said, we hope these findings inform discussions on the public health benefits of allowing expanded access to comprehensive abortion care for Nigerian women.
The researchers urged that the Nigerian government and its local and international partners reduce unintended pregnancies and in turn, unsafe abortion by promoting family planning programmes and sexuality and family life education throughout the country and that post-abortion care services be expanded to ensure all women experiencing complications receive the care they need to avoid disability and death.
Country Director, Ipas, Barr. Hauwa Shekarau, in her remark said that the present practice of abortion in Nigeria could be termed illegal, whose only intention is to save the life of a woman and called for a review.