Feb 4, 2010

Perceptions of policymakers in Nigeria toward unsafe abortion and maternal mortality

International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health
Friday E OkonofuaChike Okolocha

Abstract

In Nigeria, abortion is permitted only to save the life of a woman. Unsafe abortion is common and is a major cause of maternal mortality, yet policymakers have done little to address the problem. In-depth interviews were conducted in 2008 with 49 Nigerian politicians and officials to assess their awareness of unsafe abortion and its role in maternal mortality, and to determine their perceptions of the policies and actions needed to address these problems. Participants had poor knowledge of Nigeria's abortion law and the number of abortions and abortion-related deaths, though many knew of women who had died or nearly died from unsafe abortion. Policymakers were guided by moral and religious considerations rather than by evidence-based approaches. About one-third of informants felt that abortion should not be legal under any circumstances, one-fifth supported liberalization on medical grounds and a similar proportion believed that abortion should be legal in cases of rape and incest. Strategies recommended by respondents to reduce maternal mortality included facilitating access to contraceptives, providing sexuality education, improving the health care system, empowering women and providing free pregnancy care. Intense public hea...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Voting
National Health Policy
Women's Health Services
Maternal Death
Attitude to Health
Abortion, Criminal
Health Education
Policy Development
Contraceptive Agents
Maternal Mortality

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