GBV: NGOs seek reinstatement of safe abortion guidelines

A non-governmental organization, Women Advocacy Research and Documentation Center (WARDC) among other 150 NGO’s Monday advocated fo reinstatement of guidelines on safe termination of pregnancy for legal indication.

The organizations including; Nigerian Association of the blind, Association for intellectual&developmental disabilities
NASFAT,Ogbonge women Farmers multipupose co-operative Access to learning and school initiative(ATLAS), Dwarf association,
Deaf Women Association of Nigeria, Women Liberation and Transformation Group,National Association Of Persons with Physical Disabilities,
Sussan Unique Oasis Foundation,Federation of Muslim Women of Nigeria, International Federation of Women Lawyers(FIDA) appealed to Lagos sate and Federal government to consider the plight of victims of gender based violence and reinstate the guidelines.

They made the appeal in a statement released to Journalists during a webner on “Safe Termination of pregnancy for incest,rape and other diseases/ launch of signature campaign” by Women Advocacy Research and Documentation Center(WARDC).

The statement reads, “As concerned citizens, women’s groups, and representatives of Civil Society Organizations, we write to request for you to lead the process to appeal for the reinstatement of the suspension on the Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy For Legal Indications. We also request for the guidelines to make provision for termination of pregnancy in cases of Incest, Rape and Sexual and Gender Based Violence.

“Unsafe abortion remains a significant contributor to maternal deaths in Nigeria,constituting 10% of the global maternal death rate and standing as the second leading cause of maternal mortality in our country.

“We are deeply concerned about the neglect of this preventable issue due to provisions in Nigeria’s abortion laws,which are yet to be reformed to align with international commitments on women’s reproductive rights.

“In 2017 alone, 212,000 women out of an estimated 2 million annually who had abortions sought treatment for complications,while 285,000 did not receive the necessary care for the severe health consequences they faced.This underscores the urgency to address the situation, especially in light of Nigeria’s commitment to achieving the 2030 Global Sustainable Development Goals,targeting universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services.

“We commended the steps taken by the Lagos State Government on June 29,2022,to present and launch the policy document titled ‘Lagos State Guidelines on Safe —

“Regrettably,the suspension of these crucial guidelines on July 8,2022, has raised concerns.We understand that certain religious,cultural,and philosophical convictions oppose the document developed over four years.

“However,it is imperative to recognize the extensive work by legal and medical experts that has created an opportunity to reduce maternal mortality in line with existing laws.

“The guidelines acknowledge legal indications,including Obstetrics and Gynaecological Conditions,Heart and Vascular Diseases,Kidney Diseases,Cancers,Blood Diseases,Psychiatric and other Mental Disorders,and other conditions.

“The denial of safe abortion care to survivors of rape not only violates the right to health and privacy but also may infringe upon the prohibition of ill-treatment.

“As a nation bound by the provisions of the Maputo Protocol,which guarantees women’s right to health,including sexual and reproductive health,Nigeria must take all appropriate measures to protect reproductive rights,authorizing medical abortion in specific cases.
The Lagos State Guidelines detail safe therapeutic abortion methods, including both medical and surgical procedures.The pre-and post-procedure care stipulations ensure the identification and addressal of complications,achieving the goal of reducing repeated unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions.

“International organizations,including the World Health Organization,International Federation of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians,Amnesty International,United Nations,and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists,have consistently advocated for women’s right to decide on abortion.We firmly believe that women should have the autonomy to make choices about their bodies.

“In conclusion,we call on the Lagos State Government to reinstate the suspended Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy for Legal Indications.While we understand that various sentiments may surround this matter,we emphasize the importance of prioritizing women’s health, rights,and lives. The Guidelines were developed to save women from preventable deaths,and the suspension undermines this crucial objective”.