Over the years, abortion has been the cause of constant debate, with two sides emerging from this battle. On one side we have the pro-life, those who feel fetuses/embryos are human beings and getting rid of them is tantamount to murder. On the other, we have the pro-choice group who feel it’s the women’s right to choose what they do with their body, to carry pregnancies or not.
This battle came to a head a few months ago when the state of Texas banned abortions after six weeks. This caused an uproar of worldwide proportions, as some women don’t even know they are pregnant in six weeks. A couple of weeks ago, a judge stated the bill, but this didn’t last long as the state appealed the bill and it has been put back in play. This begs the questions, should abortions really be banned? Does Nigeria stand a chance?
A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with a friend. We talked about lots of things and then the conversation circled to abortion. For someone who was laughing a few seconds before, the switch was instantaneous. It was as if his whole body rearranged. His demeanour changed, his face contorted with pain and anger.
It became personal. I couldn’t figure out why he argued so strongly on that particular topic. So I asked, turns out, when he was 15, his sister was raped. A few months later she became pregnant. I can’t begin to imagine how that must’ve felt for her, adding to the trauma of being raped, she had to birth her abuser’s child and raise it too. She opted for an abortion.
His parents being stoic religious people flat out refused. The pro-life thing. Again, I can’t begin to imagine the hurt. In retrospect, what she did next was probably the only thing she could do, heartbreaking still. She killed herself.
One can only imagine how many girls are going through similar stories like this.
I am unabashedly pro-choice.
This article is to educate everyone on abortion. People fear what they don’t understand. I need you to understand.
What is abortion?
Abortion is feared throughout the world, especially in third world countries due to the ineptitude and ignorance of the people carrying out the procedure. You hear cases of people using hangers to induce abortion, how is this not supposed to be harmful?
Abortion is just a fancy name for the end of pregnancy, either spontaneous or deliberate. This means that miscarriage is a form of abortion. To differentiate from miscarriage, the latter is called induced abortion.
Consider a situation where the pregnancy is harmful to the woman, there is an episode of House MD on this where the fetus was killing the mum. Anyway, in cases like this, the doctors would need to terminate the pregnancy to save the mother’s life. This kind of induced abortion is called therapeutic induced abortion.
If the abortion is for non-medical reasons, it is called an elective induced abortion.
Methods of abortion
People have been attempting abortion for ages, before modern medicine. Early traditional women knew herbs that did the trick, some even massaged the stomach to induce abortion. You can imagine the kind of massage that would be, and the kind of pain that would follow. Nowadays, unskilled professionals use hangers and whatever sharp tool that’s at their disposal to scrape the uterus. This is utterly dangerous and life-threatening, abstain from this.
Instead, opt for one of the safer methods of abortion that modern medicine has provided. These methods are available depending on how far along your pregnancy is.
Generally, abortion is done in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy.
If you are seeking abortion in the first trimester, being 0 to 12 weeks of pregnancy, two methods are used which are medical abortion and vacuum aspiration. Where medical abortion involves using two medications, mifepristone and misoprostol, and vacuum aspiration involves using gentle suction, manual or mechanical to empty the uterus.
Abortion in the second trimester which is between 13 to 28 weeks, involves dilation and evacuation (D & E) and labour induced abortion. In D & E, forceps are used to remove pregnancy tissue and then suction is used to remove any remaining tissue. Labour induced abortion uses medication to start labour.
In the third trimester, abortion is rare, but it’s done if the woman’s life is in danger. Labour induced abortion is used here too.
Around 56 million abortions are done each year in the world, with about 45% done unsafely. Unsafe abortions are responsible for over 47,000 deaths each year and over 5 million hospitalizations. According to studies done, properly done abortion is considered one of the safest procedures in medicine, even safer than childbirth.
If you are pregnant and considering an abortion, it is important that you see your doctor to know your options.
Don’t opt for roadside people. Don’t take herbs you don’t understand. Stay away from ‘it worked for me’ people. Go straight to a hospital. Don’t be a statistic.
As ideal as this is, I regret to inform you that abortions in Nigeria are not legal, except and only if the mum’s life is at risk. With a sentence of 14 years in prison for performing one, 7 years for having one and 3 years for providing or helping.
In Benin Republic, abortions are legal, having been voted into law last month. This deserves applause considering the countless lives it will save.
Don’t you think Nigeria is long overdue?
For more information on why abortion should be legalised in Nigeria, watch out for part two of this article.
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An experienced biomedical researcher cum laboratory scientist. A teacher of the sciences. Self acclaimed health and lifestyle police, changing the world one article at a time.