“I am a graduate and a banker, but I’m afraid of getting married because I know that medically, I cannot bear children. I lost my womb at 15. I had an unsafe abortion which almost took my life but for God’s intervention I survived. “ This was how Esther Megide – a 26-year-old graduate who works in one of Nigeria’s fastest growing banks, started the story of her life.
Too many women have stories similar to Esther’s — and these women are almost all living in nations where abortion is illegal or extremely limited. According to the article, “Every year, a quarter of all unsafe abortions (approximately five million) are performed on adolescent girls aged 15-19 years.” And what are “pro-life” politicians and religious leaders doing about it? Encouraging abstinence until marriage and trying to further restrict abortion, of course!
But here’s the problem: Many of these girls do not have the ability to say no to sex. They have even less of an ability to negotiate sex and condom use after they’re married — and contrary to anti-choice mythology, not every married woman is open to having as many babies as God gives her. Indeed, countries where contraception access is lacking tend to have significantly higher maternal mortality rates, often because of multiple births and complications like obstetric fistulas. Not to mention complications from unsafe abortion.
The “pro-life” method of decreasing the abortion rate — telling women to save sex for marriage and blocking access to abortion and contraception — is not working. It has not worked, ever. But it has managed to kill and injure a lot of people.
Unsafe abortion constitutes a serious public health crisis in Nigeria . It is said to still be the cause of 33-40 per cent of maternal deaths. The current statistics on abortion indices in Nigeria estimated that 760,000 unsafe abortions are performed annually in Nigeria . Sixty per cent of induced abortions are performed by midwives, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics and women themselves, while physicians perform the remaining 40 per cent.
The outcome of these acts have done more harm than good as intended. Roughly, 142,000 women are treated annually for abortion-related complications.
While the term “illegal abortion” doesn’t sound pretty, it’s convenient to ignore what illegal abortion actually looks like in many countries:
In a presentation on the local instruments used by some traditional healers, Ejike noted: “The traditional healers insert the sharpened end of cassava stem into the crevices thereby perforating the uterus. At times it is said that some healers grind ginger, alligator pepper, local chalk and native alum together and apply it into the woman’s private part. Some others use the sharpened edge of Bahaman grass to do the work”.
The author of the article goes on to advocate for abortion rights for rape and incest survivors. Which is laudable, and I can understand her reasoning — baby steps — but it’s far from the ideal. And I’m not sure it’s particularly effective to position abortion rights as contingent on what a woman did or didn’t do. That is, if she didn’t consent to sex, then she’s a good girl who deserves access to a safe procedure. If she did consent to sex, then she’s a slut who should either be forced into childbirth, or should have to run the risk of death or injury in terminating her pregnancy. I would much rather see pro-choice advocates push for legal abortion for all women.
But her final quote, by Mohamoud Fathalla, is spot on:
[W]omen are not dying because we cannot treat them. They are dying because societies are yet to make decision that their lives are worth saving.
Similar Posts (automatically generated):
- “Pro-life” laws kill women by Jill July 30, 2007
- I guess women’s lives aren’t included in that whole “pro-life” thing by Jill October 13, 2007
- Contraception use up, abortion down by Jill October 13, 2009
- Educating is good, fixing the problem is better by Jill September 24, 2007
- Illegal abortion killing and injuring women in the Philippines by Jill September 5, 2007