IMPLEMENT MAPUTO PROGRAMME OF ACTION AND SAVE OVER 200 WOMEN FROM DYING EVERY DAY – DR. HABEEB
By Frank Ajufo
The Federal Government has been called upon to domesticate the contents of the Maputo Protocol Programme of Action by changing her abortion laws to reflect the basic contents of the Protocol.
The call was made in Abuja by the Global Advocacy Director, Pathfinder International, Dr. Habeeb Salami during a workshop on “Bridging the gap for enhanced news coverage of reproductive health engagement training for media and civil society organization”, where he explained that the protocol provides a window for safe abortion for victims of rape, incest and if the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman.
Dr. Habeeb expressed worry that unsafe abortions account for about 11% of maternal deaths in Nigeria, despite the criminalization of abortions in the country.
The criminalization of abortion in Nigeria is invariably pushing women and girls to seek the services of quacks, often leaving them with life-threatening conditions or having them die from ordinarily preventable deaths.
We are saying at the minimum let Nigeria implement the Maputo Programme of Action to expand our laws to allow for not just saving the mother’s life but for those who have been raped and those who have been violated as in the case of incest.
And what we are asking for is not just abortion but safe abortion. We all know abortions still happen but they are going underground to procure abortion and we are losing lives. These are deaths that are preventable, that are avoidable. Do, if they have access to go to where safe abortion is provided, we will save a lot of these lives they are human lives.
About 11% of maternal deaths is due to unsafe abortions. So, if you extrapolate that to with maternal mortality being 570 per a Hundred Thousand live births for Nigeria, you do the maths. So at the minimum, nothing less than 200 women are dying every day.
Also speaking, the Executive Director of Balanced Stewardship Development Association, (BALSDA) Adewale Adeleye stressed the need for media to be objective in reporting abortion and other matters relating to it.
We are calling on the government to look at the law to see where changes can be made to accommodate women who may have been raped and violated in other ways. You know the kind of trauma a woman goes through when she is raped and you expect her to carry the pregnancy with all the trauma and then the trouble of having to tell the child how she became pregnant, or tell the child who the father is when doesn’t if know who the man is. So we want the law to accommodate this kind of people.
We also want the media to begin to report without bias about abortion. Government criminalized abortion but people are going clandestinely, people are going to any length to procure abortion. But the unfortunate aspect of it is that it is in the hand of quacks they get these services.
So due to this we lose a lot of women and we cannot continue to, you know, allow this kind of preventable deaths to keep occurring in Nigeria.
The importance of an effective collaboration between Civil Society Organisations and the Media in promoting the reproductive and sexual rights of women and girls was extensively discussed by participants at the workshop.