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NASS: Stakeholders seek review of 159-year-old abortion law

  • Say archaic law endangering women’s lives

 

The National Assembly has been charged to review the laws governing abortion in Nigeria so as to bring them up to speed with modern day realities.

 

The laws which are embedded in the Penal Code of Northern Nigeria and Criminal Code of Southern Nigeria were made in 1861 and bequeathed to Nigeria by the British colonial masters.

 

Stakeholders in Women’s Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights canvassed the review of the laws at a workshop organised by Ipas Nigeria for media executives in Keffi, near Abuja.

 

Participants at the workshop who dwelt on a wide range of issues concerning sexual and reproductive health of women, argued that the law on abortion in Nigeria was long overdue for amendments because of emerging challenges in the health sector.

 

Country Director of Ipas Nigeria, Lucky Palmer said there was a direct link between the available laws and policies and the state of sexual and reproductive health in any country.

 

Palmer disclosed that the United Kingdom from who bequeathed the extant laws to Nigeria 159 years ago, had reviewed the same law three times to align with emerging global realities.

 

“Abortion is heavily restricted throughout Nigeria, with one set of laws applicable in the North and another in the South.

 

While the laws provide room for interpretation, the generally accepted understanding across the nation, among policy makers, healthcare providers and women themselves, is that abortion is legally prohibited, with the limited exception of cases where the woman’s pregnancy endangers her life,” he said.

 

The National Assembly, he said, should rise to the challenge by examining the issues dispassionately and reviewing the existing laws in accordance with the standards established by the African Women’s Rights Protocol.

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