By Sunmola Olowookere
It was in the dead of the night. Residents were likely already in their beds or sleeping after the hectic labour and hustling of the day when a woman’s cries of agony rented the air. “Deola, what have you done to yourself? Yee! I am done for. You wicked girl! You want to expose my nakedness for all to see and mock, is that not it?”
Then an agonized male voice joined the woman’s words of lamentation “little sis, please open your eyes. This joke is too expensive. Please open your eyes. You cannot go like this. Remember all the promises I made to you? I have not forgotten any of them. I will still sponsor you in the university as soon as I get a job and I will send you abroad, just be patient, Deolaaaa!!
Alas! It was too late. The young girl had given up the ghost. She could no longer hear her brother and mother’s entreaties. Here was a girl who lost her life as a result of an abortion which went horribly wrong. The 19 year old girl whom the neighbours had seen the morning of the previous day was buried by the next day very early in the morning.
It was a tragedy that would shake any family. She was already a grown girl who would have been married in some years to come had she been alive. The mother was pregnant at the time the young girl also got pregnant. It was a hectic time for the family as her disappointed family members all went against her. Her mother in particular told her in no uncertain terms to find means of losing the unwanted pregnancy.
In a bid to save the family’s honour, she decided to abort the pregnancy and prepared a concoction she learnt from her friends. After taking the concoction, things went horribly wrong as she did not tell her mother on time of the excruciating pains she was having in her tummy. By the time she confided in her mother, it was too late and she had bled too much.
Before she could be taken to the hospital she gave up the ghost. Her mother now is probably repenting at leisure that she had not supported the poor girl through the difficult time.
According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, abortion is the expulsion of a fetus from the uterus before it has reached the stage of viability (in human beings, usually about the 20th week of gestation). An abortion may occur spontaneously, in which case it is also called a miscarriage, or it may be brought on purposefully, in which case it is often called an induced abortion.
Whether and to what extent induced abortions should be permitted, encouraged, or severely repressed is a social issue that has divided theologians, philosophers, and legislators for centuries. Abortion was apparently a common and socially accepted method of family limitation in the Greco-Roman world. Although Christian theologians early and vehemently condemned abortion, the application of severe criminal sanctions to deter its practice became common only in the 19th century.
In the 20th century such sanctions were modified in one way or another in various countries, beginning with the Soviet Union in 1920, with Scandinavian countries in the 1930s, and with Japan and several eastern European countries in the 1950s. In some countries the unavailability of birth-control devices was a factor in the acceptance of abortion. In the late 20th century China used abortion on a large scale as part of its population-control policy.
In the early 21st century some jurisdictions with large Roman Catholic populations, such as Portugal and Mexico City, decriminalized abortion despite strong opposition from the church, while others, such as Nicaragua, increased restrictions on it.
Despite increased permissiveness on issues of abortion in most countries of the world, Nigeria still have restrictive laws with regards abortion.
Through this,so many young girls have lost their lives through unsafe abortion. This menace accounts for a whopping percentage of maternal mortality in Nigeria. In Nigeria, abortion has not been legalized. It is considered a crime for anyone to be seen having an abortion. However the pertinent question is; has this law stopped women of child bearing age of between 15 and 49 from having an abortion?
Many young girls are forced to procure abortion from quacks due to this development and some of this girls have lost their lives and wombs in the process of this illicit procurement.
Residents of Ondo state through different for a have been sensitized on the need to apply family planning methods especially among men and women of child bearing age in order to curb the upsurge in the population of the nation and thereby boost the people’s standard of living. Most importantly, it would also guide against getting unwanted pregnancies that would need to be aborted.
Recently, the Ondo state Primary Health Care Board embarked on an awareness program about sexual health. This awareness programme arose from the theme of 2017 edition of world population day which goes thus “family planning; empowering people, developing nations”.
Making this sensitization were the officers of the Ondo State Primary Health Care Development Board (OSPHCDB) and members of the Community Based Distributors recently trained by the board.
According to the programme’s officer, Rosemary Adegbulu, who led the team round some local government of the state, the programme is a collaborative effort between the board and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to empower the people whose standard of life has dwindled as a means of building the nation.
One of the local governments visited was Igbokoda where the board went into the heart of the market and drew out the people who thronged the Comprehensive Health Centre to access the various Family planning methods that were offered for free during the awareness campaign.
These include family planning contraceptive pills, injectable, male and female condoms, Implants and consultancy.
A beneficiary, Mrs. Joke Ogbere who said that she had four children already and does not want any unwanted pregnancy again expressed that family planning is very good and advocated it for upcoming active youths so that they too could guide against unwanted pregnancy rather than seek abortion when such an incident occur.
She lauded the initiative from the collaborating bodies as she lamented that many youths have destroyed their future or lost their lives in procuring abortion when they get pregnant at a period they least needed it.
One of the Community based distributors, Sunday Odolo said that the programme was initiated following government’s realization that many youth are wasting away through abortion.
He observed that the condom and the pills are in high demand during the awareness campaign as the youths of nowadays are sexually active demanded more for this. Hence the need to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Among the beneficiaries were some mothers who were seen collecting contraceptive pills for themselves and their daughters.
Speaking with pressmen after the programme, the programme’s officer said that the programme became necessary following the realization that most of the residents of the area are not very much familiar with family planning.
Her words “from our records, we discover that acceptance of family planning methods by men and women of child bearing age in this area is very poor both among the single and the married class. This is why we have planned this programme in order to sensitize the people and change their attitude towards family planning”.
She declared the programme to be a success following the impressive turn out of people who thronged the venue in hundreds to seek the family planning products on ground despite the chilly weather and the continuous drizzle.
“We have over 100 people accepting the pills. We have ten accepting the injectables and we have more than twenty accepting the long acting; all in a day. This shows that they are really ready to go on with us and accept family planning.” She enthused
She expatiated that family planning was chosen as this year’s theme for World Population Day as the government feels the need to build the nation and empower its people considering the standard of living which falls every day.
“If we want to move out of poverty, we must plan our family. If one does not plan one’s family, it would be difficult to eat and live well. It would also be difficult to give one’s children quality education.” She opined.
She disclosed that already 47 community based distributors have been trained and dispatched to sensitize people in the Ilaje Local Government Area on family planning and send them on to the Comprehensive health care for further consultation.
She also stated that community health education workers have been trained and attached to health facilities in Ilaje LGA especially where there were no providers. She said that there are plans in the pipelines to construct more outreaches in the far riverine areas and even on to the high seas to also sensitize the people.
Family planning according to her would also go a long way in tackling the menace of abortion as the issue of unwanted pregnancy would arise if sexually active people are encourage to embrace family planning methods.
A social worker who simply prefer to be known as Blessing argued that preaching abstinence only no longer works with youth of nowadays as most them are now sexually active.
She said that when she started her campaign, she was preaching abstinence to young people until she met a secondary school girl who queried her on what was to be the lot of those of the youths who are already sexually active and can no longer practice abstinence.
She said that in order to curb the menace of abortion, governments at all levels need to inculcate sex education in schools curriculums and said that many options can be explored for a sexually active individual before they have to consider abortion.
She spoke of her experience which led her to go into the campaign. She had gotten pregnant at teenage but she said she was lucky as she had parents who supported during this trying period.
She expressed that most young girls who fall under this kind of predicament are not as lucky as she was then because most of these young girls were forced to drop out of school.
She confessed that she had considered having abortion then but had decided against it at the last moment due to circumstances. She urged government to consider legalizing abortion as young people were having it anyway so that women can have safe abortions and the number of women lost through maternal deaths annually can be reduced.
She argued that in order to stem the tide of unsafe abortion, people must come out and talk about sex and abortion. Her words “your kids are doing it or they know people who are doing it and are preparing on how to do it. Hence, we must talk about it”.
Blessing advised that if one has a child that is sexually active, one must insure the child by introducing them to family planning methods in order to guide against unwanted pregnant that could result into unsafe abortion.
She urged that states must have adolescents’ friendly centres in their domains while saying that the one at Ondo State Specialist Hospital is not functioning optimally.