Abortion Rights are a world topical issue with increasing concerns, particularly in the Western world and more especially in the United States of America where it serves as a fundamental determinant of the results of their current Senate/ House of Representatives and Gubernatorial elections. Seeing that this impacts a lot of women regardless of age, status, creed or race, Havilah went out to seek the opinion of a few professionals on the topic.

Dr Titi Bakolori kick-starts the discussion with a definition of abortion. She explains “Abortion is the termination of an ongoing pregnancy usually within the first twenty-eight weeks of pregnancy. It may be as a result of natural causes (spontaneous abortion) or induced (medical and or surgical abortion). When a woman suffers the loss of her foetus before the 20th week of pregnancy without any inducement, it is referred to as a Spontaneous abortion. The woman has absolutely no control over this. On the other hand, induced abortions are carried out either at the instance of the woman or with her consent. Most often, induced abortions are viewed negatively with the notion that it promotes promiscuity and irresponsibility by women but there are certain occasions when abortions are required to save the lives of the mother and/or child or to prevent very undesirable conditions for them. I will give the example of two of my patients, whose real names are withheld –

  1. Pelumi travelled to the Caribbean on official training during the first trimester of her pregnancy. While there she experienced feverish conditions which she thought to be malaria but upon a visit to the health facilities, she was diagnosed with and treated for the Zika virus. On her return, she visited me for follow-up treatment and when I enumerated the types of birth defects that could result from having contracted the virus, she opted to terminate the pregnancy.
  2. In the case of Anitie, her husband travelled on official duty and the very next day, armed robbers attacked their flat and she was raped. On his return, she reported the robbery but concealed the rape from him, because she was unsure about the effect of such information on their marriage. Unfortunately, she later discovered she was pregnant and being uncertain about the paternity (whether her husband or the rapist) she decided to terminate the pregnancy”.

Kulu, a Women’s Rights activist expressed the following view. “Every woman reserves the right to determine what to do with her body. The pregnancy is hers to carry and she should determine whether the circumstances are conducive for her as well as whether to carry the baby to term. The responsibility of carrying the baby in her womb rests squarely on her shoulders, so the decision to do so or otherwise should be hers. Take the instance of a certain lady who had three children and was struggling with giving them a good education. She was the breadwinner since her husband lost his job and was unable to secure another one. In spite of using contraceptives, she got pregnant and could not imagine coping with another mouth to feed. It was foolhardy to expect her to keep the pregnancy in that situation. It was her call to deal with the situation in the way she considered most appropriate and she opted for an abortion.

Or can you imagine a pregnancy resulting from incest between a father-daughter, uncle-niece or cousins? How on earth would the victim want to keep such a pregnancy? Imagine the odium, shame and mental trauma she will be forced to deal with on an ongoing basis. My take on the subject is that if Abortion remains unacceptable in the public eye, what will inevitably happen is that illegal abortions will continue to thrive and place more women at risk of complications or even death”.

Cynthia, a psychologist, on her part approached the topic from both a spiritual perspective as well as the consequential perspective. She expressed herself as follows – ”Both the Bible and the Quran clearly instruct that life is sacred and bloodshed by taking life is unacceptable. If one takes the position that life comes from the Creator and not from the woman who is merely a vessel of passage for the life, then she has no right to terminate a life she did not create. Although it is often arguable as to what stage or age the foetus can be referred to as life, abortion becomes increasingly less acceptable, the later the age of the foetus. Abortion becomes even less desirable when one considers some of the undesirable effects it sometimes has on the woman. Women have been known to suffer complications in pregnancy subsequent to abortions as well as secondary infertility. Also of concern is the feeling of guilt and the consequent impact on mental health suffered by some women who have undergone the procedure. I am therefore of the opinion that abortions should not be legalised.”

While the debate remains heated, it is obvious that as is common to most topics for debate, there are arguments for and against legalising abortion. If the merits of the arguments are to be considered, legislation should be drafted with due consideration of the positions held by qualifying the unacceptable conditions and the age of the foetus involved.

Your views on this topic will be most welcome.




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