Stop women from dying: Reinstate Suspended Guidelines on Safe Pregnancy Termination – WARDC, CSOs

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Interest Groups and Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), have cried out to the Lagos State government to reconsider its stance on the suspended guidelines on safe abortion in the interest of women, adolescents and the society.

To this end, women groups staged a walk called, “ the Pink Movement “ around Ikeja, in Lagos, during which they complained about the deaths of women from unsafe abortion, insisting that, reinstating the suspended Guidelines On Safe Termination Of Pregnancy will reduce maternal mortality in the state.

The participants lead by the Executive Director, Women Advocacy Research and Documentation Center, WARDC, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said, the ‘Pink Movement’ with the theme ‘Women Lives Matter, End Unsafe Abortions’ “  is an initiative seeking an end to suicide mission, adding that, the Guidelines when restored “ will provide for the legal termination of pregnancy in cases of incest, rape as well as sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) “.

Members carried placard with different inscriptions such as,  ‘Save Women from Dying’, ‘Women Lives Matter’, ‘Girls Are Dying From Unsafe Abortions’, ‘A Woman’s Life Should Be Saved by Doctors’, among others, on Wednesday, walked from Afariogun Street, Ikeja through Awolowo Road to the Airport Hotel, Ikeja where the rally terminated.

Organised by WARDC in partnership with over 150 Organisations, the Pink Movement was scheduled to coincide with March 8 International Women’s Day, which provided the opportunity to highlight the plight of women in the country with a view to addressing the issues.

Speaking on behalf of the Coalition of the 150 groups, the Convener of ‘Women Lives Matter’, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, while addressing newsmen during the lunch of the ‘Pink Movement’ said, “We believe that the Lagos State Governor who has a listening ear should be able to listen to the cries of women.”

Having commended the Lagos government for its courage in launching the Guidelines in the first place, She pointed out that, “ the reason the group didn’t go to the governor’s office is that, “ we got an assurance from the state ministry of health that they are going to hold a public hearing to enable people to testify on the reason why the implementation of safe abortion Guidelines are important ‘.

“As we speak today, Guidelines on safe termination of pregnancy for legal Indications, are operative at the national level and in a few states across the country.” Akiode

However, the Convener of the ‘Pink Movement’ noted that Lagos State has the highest population of women who die during pregnancy which is called maternal mortality.

“The 10 per cent of deaths that happen globally occur in Nigeria; so many women are dying because of the failure of treatment. We realize that women are open to a lot of things like rape, gang rape and incest. We had cases after COVID-19 and then they had no place to go.” Akiode

Arising from the above, Akiyode-Afolabi said Nigeria records cases of people throwing newborn babies into refuse dumps; we need to respond to them.

“The government needs to be responsible for ordinary rescue. In other countries when somebody is raped the first thing is to apply the rape kit that will prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unnecessary pregnancies. ,” We don’t have that. It’s a conversation that we need to have. Women who are dying are between the age of 18-35 years.” She said

On his part, Olasupo Bada, Executive Director of Reproductive Justice Initiative Foundation, expressed dismay that, the state of Nigerian law in which a woman has no choice when she is raped. Likewise, a young girl who is defiled or raped is expected to keep the pregnancy is wrong.

According to him, “ where a father rapes his daughter, the law expects the daughter to retain the pregnancy as long as her life is not in danger “.

He says,  “We are saying: “No; it can’t continue.” He noted that under these conditions some still go for abortions and approach quarks to carry them out, which is suicidal and it is one of the reasons for the call for the suspension of the guidelines.

Bada said, “The Lagos State Government brought out Guidelines that would guide doctors or medical personnel in carrying out the abortions that are approved by law,  but for political expediency they were withdrawn and “ we are insisting that it should be brought back so that women and girls will not die unnecessarily that restoring the Guideline and making it function effectively are major factors to preventing needless deaths of women from unsafe abortions in Nigeria “.

Akiyode-Afolabi who is also the Founding Director of WARDC, called on Governor Sonorous to do the needful and restore the Guideline so as to prevent women from dying through unsafe abortions.

It is on record that, the Lagos State Government on June 29, 2022, launched the Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy for Legal Indications, which sets out regulations to standardise and build capacity for medical professionals, saving the lives of pregnant women when the continuation of their state poses a danger to their lives and physical health,  Regrettably, these Guidelines were suspended on July 8, 2022, over certain religious, cultural, and philosophical convictions.

Speaking to the crowd,  Dr Akiyode-Afolabi expressed confidence saying, “We believe that the Lagos governor who has a listening ear should be able to listen to the cries of women.”

“This is because when they do not have the opportunity to approach health facilities they tend to go to wherever they can get the service. Sometimes, they do unimaginable things to ensure that the pregnancy is terminated.

Bada added, “Overall, we are saying the lives of women are very important; they should be allowed to breathe.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button