Following the recent appointment of the Abuja NBA Chairman in the person of Ms Hauwa Shekarau, it was brought to my notice that she is pro-abortionist. In one of her arguments as an IPAS country Director in 2015, she was of the opinion that Nigeria must review her abortion laws to include indications for rape, incest and health conditions. Rape and incest are similar in the sense that both are criminal acts. In our system of justice, we punish the criminal. We do not punish the criminal’s children. We are told, however, that if pregnancy occurs as a result of rape or incest, offering an abortion is the best option. How is that even sensible? The quick fix of abortion solution is condescending and can only serve to re-affirm the sense of helplessness and vulnerability of the raped victim. Attitude projected by others and not the pregnancy itself pose the central problem to the pregnant victim. When the trauma of rape is compounded by the trauma of abortion, it is hardly possible that abortion will lessen the emotional impact of the assault.
Will abortion erase the memory of the rape or heal the emotional and physical pain of the assault? Will abortion, in effect, erase the rape of a woman? Hardly. Rape is an act of violence inflicted upon a woman. She is an innocent victim, and this knowledge may help her come to terms with the rape and rebuild her life. Abortion, on the other hand is an act of violence that, is an act of violence that a mother inflicts on her own child. Through abortion, the mother becomes the aggressor, and this knowledge may haunt her after she has dealt with the rape.
By virtue of the combined effects of sections 228, 229,230 and 328 of the Criminal Code and the some sections of the Penal Code, abortion is illegal in Nigeria. In fact, section 328 of the Criminal Code specifically states that: “Any person who when a woman is about to be delivered of a child prevents the child from being born alive by any act or omission of such a nature that, if the child had been born alive and had then died, he would have be deemed to have unlawfully killed the child, is guilty of a felony and liable to imprisonment for life”. The 1999 Constitution is the grundnorm of Nigeria. Section 33 of the constitution guarantees the right to life. It states that no person shall be deprived of his/her life except in execution of a sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he/she has been found guilty in Nigeria. Section 17 of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy of our Constitution stipulates that the Nigerian social order is, among other things, founded on the sacredness of human life. Equally section 38 of the constitution guarantees the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion: it stipulates that every person in Nigeria is entitled to propagate his/her religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance. Therefore, before the National Assembly can pass a bill on such a sensitive and volatile subject matter as abortion, a constitutional amendment to the aforesaid provisions of the 1999 constitution will be required. Even prior to the amendment, there will be need for a referendum on the matter to afford the stakeholders and the public the opportunity to speak their minds.
So, abortion is illegal in Nigeria. This is no speculation. It is the law. Can the law be enforced? Yes. The police can if the citizens lodge complaints and petitions. Our law firm has gotten the Nigerian police to shut down and charge to court some abortion clinics in Nigeria. The latest our law firm did was to petition the Police to shut down the Marie Stopes notorious abortion clinic located in Lagos. I accompanied the police in that operation. The abortion doctor called Dr. Bernard was handcuffed whilst the police ransacked the abortion clinic in search of abortion exhibits.
Considering that abortion is illegal in Nigeria coupled with the vehement opposition to the legalization of abortion in Nigeria, abortionists and radical feminists promoting abortion Nigeria have resorted to be using euphemisms and coded phrases like “Reproductive Rights or Health”, “Family Planning”, women’s health, women’s right, “Maternal Mortality”, “Safe Motherhood” etc in promoting abortion in Nigeria so that nobody will suspect what they are doing. With the terms “women right”, they means the right of women to procure abortion; “family planning” or “family planning services” is another euphemism of theirs. It means given women access to abortion clinics to procure abortion; “Safe Motherhood” means abortion and contraceptives on demand.
The concept of reproductive health and rights is one of the most abusive concepts used by the United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA), Planned Parenthood Associations, Pro-choicers, some NGOs etc. The phrase might sound palatable to the ears of the unwary, human rights activists and women NGOs who least suspect the sinister motives behind the concept. First, the word “reproductive” in the context in which it is commonly used by its proponents is an inappropriate word because human beings do not reproduce: human beings procreate. Procreation is impregnated with much more exalted meanings than the biological process of reproduction.
The World Health Organization (WHO) unfortunately promotes abortion especially in African countries. This is not a conspiracy theory. Not hearsay either. I have touched it. I have seen it. I have witnessed it. The WHO has produced an official definition of the concept Reproductive Health during its preparation for the United Nations international Conference on Population and Development in Cairo is 1994. It defined it as:
“ Reproductive health implies that people are able to have responsible, satisfying and safe sex (underline mine) and they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this last condition are the right of men and women to be informed of and to have access to safe and effective, affordable and acceptable methods of fertility regulation (underline mine) of their choice, and the right of access to appropriate health care services (underline mine) that will enable a woman to go safely through pregnancy and child birth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant”.
The same WHO defined fertility regulation as: “the process by which individuals and couples regulate their fertility. Methods that can be used for this purpose include amongst others: delaying childbearing, using contraception, seeking treatment for infertility, interrupting unwanted pregnancies (underline mine) and breast-feeding.
The above definition, as luminous as it may seem, is simply a great euphemism for promoting illicit sex and abortion or what Professor Steven Pinker has dubbed neonaticide (killing of a child on the day of its birth) or filicide (killing of a child at some later stage).
So, let us decode the hidden time-bombs in the above definition under the following sub-headings:
(a) “Safe Sex” or “condom sex” means indulging in immoral casual sex and relishing in its pleasure while avoiding its consequences.
(b) “Fertility regulation” and “interrupting unwanted pregnancies” mean abortion on demand.
© “Access to appropriate health care services” means access to the abortion clinics
However the argument comes in promoting abortion, it is not justifiable. If a fetus is a person in very special circumstances, it exists entirely within the body of another much larger person and usually cannot be the object of direct action by another person. The right to life should always outweigh the right of an individual to equality or to control their own body. Abortion does not free women, abortion does not liberate women instead it leaves one with a memory of taking another’s life.
Abortion carries its own variety of trauma. Women even those who were victims of sexual assault have reported years of physical, emotional and psychological difficulty following their abortions. Abortion did not solve their problem; it merely created additional ones. In addition to this, we should never forget that abortion takes the life of a living human being. The circumstances of how the child’s life was created may have been criminal, but the life of the newly-created human being is just as valuable as any other person’s. Killing the child of a criminal who has committed sexual assault is not the solution. We should punish the criminal, not kill his child.
Abortion side steps oppression of women; because it provides a way of side-stepping other real issues that should be addressed. Directly killing innocent human being is gravely unjust. It is ethically right to preserve the life of an unborn child. There are women who are raped and become pregnant, the problem is that they were raped, the problem is not that are pregnant. There are women who are starving who become pregnant, the problem is that they were starving; the problem is not that they are pregnant. There are women that are in abusive relationships who got pregnant, the problem is that were in abusive relationships; the problem is not that they are pregnant. Abortion damages the physical and emotional health of women no matter the era or the motive behind it.
Women’s need for equality is not free access to abortion but to be given what they need to survive financially and socially as mothers. There should be provision of inexpensive, readily available child care, a workplace or school that acknowledges the needs of mothers e.g. providing flexible and maternity leave, state support that helps to reintegrate a woman into the workplace
Therefore it should be a thing of concern that an NBA chairman promotes abortion because abortion is illegal in Nigeria.
Chinemerem Adibe is a staff of The Project for Human Development;
A Lagos based NGO