Untold Abortion Stories from Nigeria: The Doctor’s View (3/4)
Criminalizing abortion is a form of discrimination against women. Abortion is still illegal In Nigeria,but it hasn't stopped thousands of women from getting it. These women endanger their lives by seeking unsafe means to terminate pregnancy. In this series of stories, Hannah, writer, journalist and story ambassador for CotW talks to women who despite the dangers have decided to get an abortion.
Nigeria, Western Africa
Criminalizing abortion is a form of discrimination against women. Abortion is still illegal In Nigeria, but it hasn't stopped thousands of women from getting it. These women endanger their lives by seeking unsafe means to terminate pregnancy. As someone who is passionate about women’s rights and gender equality, I wanted to explore the impact of the criminalization of abortion in Nigeria. So I sought out women who have risked their lives to terminate their pregnancies. I wanted to know more about what doctors who perform the procedure themselves think about it. This is what Dr Annie*, a practicing doctor in a well known hospital in the heart of Lagos, Nigeria has to say about this issue.
Dr Annie believes she renders a necessary service. She claims to perform abortions because she believes in giving people a second chance. She recalls an event that stuck with her.
"A teenage girl was brought into the hospital for an abortion after an abuse. She looked really young and frail. The scan showed that she was 17 weeks into the gestation period. This was quite a complicated case because she was so young and might have little to no pain threshold compared to an adult female. I started the procedure by dilating her, it took a longer period to get the cervix dilated. Once it was widened enough, I inserted a device with blades into her. She winced. She wasn't given any sedatives because I wanted her to be responsive. After the procedure, she was placed under watch while the tissue and blood were eased out of her vagina.
Unfortunately, I had to redo the procedure because some tissues were stuck in her uterus. She had to go through the pain all over again. It was such discomfort for a little girl. After the second procedure, she lost so much blood that she had to be placed under intensive care till the bleeding subsided. She struggled to regain balance psychologically. The event was too strenuous for her young mind.
Motherhood isn't a child's play. It is unfair to subject her to the mental and emotional distress that comes with it, regardless of whatever family support. Children should be allowed to be children and abuse shouldn't get in the way of that. As medical professionals offering such a service, we have little or no opinion to enforce on parents or women who come for abortions. We can only assess and state possible risk factors that would determine if it can be carried out or not. Personally, I think it was fair to give her a second chance at a normal life.”
*Names marked with asterisks have been changed to protect the identity of those who spoke to Correspondents of the World on condition of anonymity
Read Part 4 - The Legal Reality of this story series on Untold Abortion Stories from Nigeria here.
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