Experts have called for a review of the restrictive abortion laws in Nigeria to protect women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
They made the call at the weekend during a training for journalists on the Global Gag Rule and women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Keffi, Nasarawa state.
The Global Gag Rule also known as the Mexico City Policy is a United States Government policy that blocks US federal funding for non-governmental organisation that provide abortion counselling or referrals, advocate to decriminalize abortion or expand abortion services.
Lucky Palmer, Country Director, Ipas Nigeria, said Nigeria was still using an abortion law formed in 1861, stressing that “it is time for us to amend the law to reflect the modern realities and protect our women who are currently dying from unsafe abortions.”
Palmer said lack of information about contraceptives, abortion services by women and girls as well as the law restricting access to abortion except to save the lives of women had led many women to patronize quacks, and utilize unsafe approaches that have led to needless loss of lives.
He said it was important for Nigerian civil society organisations to note that the fact that they were receiving USAID grant, did not prevent them from supporting survivors of gender-based violence in case they needed access to safe abortion, referral or counselling.
Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Executive Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, said the Global Gag Rule led to unsafe abortions and a major cause of maternal mortality killing tens of thousands of women every year.
She said those who created the law did not factor its impact on the rest of the world, adding that it affected family planning, HIV services, maternal and child health and even malaria services.