Safety first

Unsafe abortions kill 50,000 women in Nigeria annually

A nurse inspects a pregnant woman at a maternity hospital in Nigeria. (REUTERS/Akintunde)

In an essay for The Guardian, writer Obiagwu Hillary tells of a woman she met four years ago in Nigeria under terrible circumstances: the 19-year-old was rushed to the hospital with complications from an unsafe abortion. At least 50,000 women died from unsafe abortions every year in Nigeria, making it the nation’s leading cause of maternal mortality.

Abortion is illegal in Nigeria unless the mother’s life is in danger. Poverty and religion contribute to the nation’s lack of contraception use, and emphasis on chastity is common in communities. Women are forced underground to seek help when they decide that a pregnancy is not right for them, relying on medicine dealers and “chemists” to perform the procedure in unsafe settings. (The young woman Hillary met, who died in the hospital that day, had the surgery performed by a poor physician armed with a bike spoke.)

In her rallying cry for change, Hillary notes the effects an unsafe abortion can have on women who survive like, pelvic inflammatory disease. “Guilt also has a lasting effect on such women,” she writes.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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