Home NEWS EDUCATION Conditions For Having Abortion in Nigeria: What the Laws of Nigeria Say

Conditions For Having Abortion in Nigeria: What the Laws of Nigeria Say

Hello, trust you’re having a pleasant day. In this post, we will review the concept of abortion and requirements for having abortion in Nigeria. Also, we’ll analyse the myths and facts viz á viz the relevant laws governing the practice of abortion in Northern and Southern Nigeria.

What is Abortion?

Abortion is the ending of pregnancy due to the removal of a developing embryo or fetus before it can survive outside the uterus. 

How to have abortion in Nigeria
Abortion in Nigeria

Types of Abortion

There are two major types of abortion.

  1. Spontaneous Abortion
  2. Induced Abortion

Spontaneous abortion

Spontaneous abortion is popularly referred to simply as miscarriage in our local Nigerian parlance.

Induced abortion

This on the other hand could be in the form of drug induced or surgically induced. In this article, we will lay emphasis on the surgically induced abortion.

There are several forms of surgically induced abortion. Common ones include:

  1. D & A: Dilation and Aspiration
  2. D & C: Dilation and Curettage
  3. D & E: Dilation and Evacuation
  4. D & X: Dilation and Extraction 

Common Beliefs Nigerians have about Abortion 

  1. Abortion is dangerous
  2. Abortion is a sin against God and nature
  3. Abortion is murder
  4. Abortionists are terminating the lives of a lot of people
  5. Abortion is one of the most significant causes of maternal injury and death

From the above, it is evident that majority of Nigerians believe that abortion, regardless of the circumstances, is wrong.

Ironically, statistics have shown that regardless of the opposing views people have towards abortion, many people still engage in the practice. Few of such statistics include:

  1. 760,000 abortions were performed in 2006 in Nigeria
  2. 1.25 million abortions were performed in Nigeria in 2012 by women 15 – 49years of age
  3. Globally, more than 42million women have abortion annually in Nigeria
  4. 56% of unintended pregnancies were resolved by abortion in 2012 In Nigeria
  5. 354,400 women were treated for complications of spontaneous or induced abortion in 2012 in Nigeria

Interestingly, high rates of abortion occur in South Nigeria especially in the South-South region comprising of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River,  Delta, Edo, Rivers States than in the North. It is believed that this is as a result of the wide spread desire of women in the South to have few children; about 3-4children on average. Unlike in the North where there are no restrictions and women tend to have as many children as they want to.

What the Laws of Nigeria Have to Say About Abortion

Two(2) separate but similar abortion laws exist in Nigeria. One is practiced in Northern Nigeria, while the other is practiced in Southern Nigeria 

1. The Abortion Laws in Northern Nigeria

This law is contained in the Penal code Law No. 18, Section 232′ 233 and 234 of 1959. It states that:

Legality of Abortion in the Penal code

  1. Abortion can ONLY be performed to save a woman’s life
  2. For abortion to be performed, two(2) physicians are required to certify that the pregnancy possesses a serious threat to the life of the woman

Criminality of Abortion in the Penal code

  1. Anybody who voluntarily causes a pregnant woman to abort her unborn child is liable to 14years imprisonment or payment of fines. Penalty could be worse if the woman dies in the process
  2. Any woman who makes herself to abort is subject to 7years imprisonment or payment of fines
  3. Anybody who supplies any substance with the knowledge that it is intended to be unlawfully used to procure an abortion is subject to 3 years imprisonment

2. The Abortion Laws in Southern Nigeria

This law is contained in the Criminal Code Act, chapter 77, Sections 228, 229, 230, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.

Legality of Abortion in the Criminal Code Act

  1. Abortion can be performed to save the woman’s life if her life is at risk
  2. Abortion can be performed for physical and mental reasons
  3. For abortion to be performed, two(2) physicians are required to certify that the pregnancy possess a serious threat to the life, physical and mental state of the woman

Criminality of abortion in the Criminal Code Act

It is same with that contained in the penal code. 

Facilities for Legitimate Abortion in Nigeria

Generally, statistics show that majority of government facilities like Specialist Hospitals, Teaching Hospitals, Federal Medical Centers, General Hospitals, and even Private facilities have functional Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) equipment to carry out induced D&A abortion. 

In addition, most of these facilities have provisions in wards dedicated to Abortion-related services. More so, these facilities are said to have well trained staff to perform D&A abortion procedures using the MVA.

Ironically, whether a woman meets all the requirements or not, she is most often than not ignorant of the provisions of the law. Even when she is not ignorant, access is generally unavailable or out of reach.

Thus, she usually resorts to unsafe and clandestine practices which most often than not lead to serious health consequences and complications. In fact, about 290,000 abortion cases end up with serious health complications. Sadly, most do not receive the necessary live saving attention and treatments required.


Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is solely for informational purposes. Meanwhile, it does not necessarily represent the views of the author, HealthCompass or www.jainda.com. For any health related issues, please, contact your Doctor.

What do you think about abortion?
If you had the power to fully legalize abortion in Nigeria, would you?
Kindly state your reasons in the Comments box below.

More so, if you have questions, kindly ask; we’ll try our best to respond promptly.

HealthCompass says, Stay Well.

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