Is abortion LEGAL in Nigeria? Here's what you need to know...

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What is abortion?

First, an abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. There are usually many reasons for an abortion, and most times women will elect to terminate their pregnancies because:
• The pregnancy is risky for the mother’s health
• The unborn baby’s health is at risk
• The mother isn’t ready to have a baby
• Other family planning methods failed
• The mother simply does not want the baby
• The parents cannot provide for the child
• The baby has genetic diseases
• The baby is not growing as it should
• Tumors like fibroid are causing complications

Abortion in Nigeria: Is it legal?

If you are still wondering how long it takes to recover from an abortion, you should first of all know that in Nigeria abortion is a crime. Anyone who commits, aids to commit, or supplies anything used in committing an abortion, is guilty of a felony and can serve prison time for up to seven, fourteen, or three years respectively. This is according to the criminal code for states in the southern parts of Nigeria.

In the penal code for the northern States, whether the abortion was successful or not, the suspect can be imprisoned, fined or both. The only exception to this law is if the abortion is the only way to save the mother’s life. As a result, many people commit abortions in hiding, leading to the rise of unsafe abortions in the country.

Since hospitals will not abort pregnancies except the life of the mother is threatened, people sometimes go to unlicensed medical personnel to get this procedure. These women are often left with the unanswered question of how long does it take to recover from an abortion from a quack?

Types of abortions

There are three major methods of abortion: the surgical, medical, and induction abortion. For how long does it take to recover from an abortion irrespective of the method, forty-eight hours is the average recovery time for all these methods.
Usually, the stage of the pregnancy will inform what abortion method people choose. Ultrasound will determine the age of the pregnancy accurately. Abortions are safer in the early stages of pregnancy.

1. Abortion pills or medical abortion

According to Consumer Health Digest, abortion pills work to terminate a pregnancy that is less than nine weeks. It works best for early pregnancies. The pills stop the production of progesterone, a hormone vital for the formation of the womb. When this hormone depletes, the uttering lining sheds, resulting in bleeding and termination of the pregnancy.

Possible effects of abortion pills
After taking abortion pills, the woman should expect some bleeding, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and sometimes fever. But if the bleeding is excessive, like two fully soaked pads within an hour, she should go back to her doctor.

So, how long does it take to recover from an abortion by abortion pills? The abortion pills terminate the pregnancy in a matter of hours, but bleeding might continue up to four weeks after taking the pill. It is important to go for a second ultrasound when the bleeding stops to confirm that the abortion is complete.

2. Surgical abortion

A surgical is the best option of pregnancies in the first 21 weeks. The most popular surgical abortion is dilation and evacuation, also known in Nigeria as D&E. It is performed in ten minutes under general anesthesia. The medical personnel insert a speculum into the vagina and open it so that the cervix is visible.

Next, they insert a suction machine, which has a pressure that is about thirty times that of a vacuum cleaner, to suck the fetus out. What the suction machine does is to disintegrate the fetus and collect the remains. It does the same to the placenta, too.

Finally, to avoid an incomplete abortion, a curette is used to scrape the walls of the uterus to take out bits of body parts and flesh left behind. How long does it take to recover from an abortion by surgical method? The procedure can be done under an hour but bleeding can last up to four weeks.
Surgical abortion has the same after effect as the medical abortion, but the bleeding in this case is always less.

3. Induction abortion

This is the best method for pregnancies from sixteen weeks and up to twenty-four weeks. The only difference between this and the surgical abortion is that a pill is used to induce labour. In late-term abortion, the pregnant woman might get an injection in the stomach to terminate the pregnancy.

Induction abortion takes longer to heal. It sometimes requires 2 days of hospitalization. Its side effect is the same as others. How long does it take to recover from an abortion method like induction abortion? It takes forty-eight hours to recover but bleeding might go on for weeks.

How long does it take to recover from an abortion

What are the risks of abortion?

These risks are very rare but they are a possibility.
• Incomplete abortion: when some tissues are forgotten in the uterus
• Excessive bleeding: it can sometimes call for blood transfusion.
• Infections: if the instruments aren’t sterile. Sometimes infections have no known cause
• Impairment of the uterus

From the above, whatever the reason for the abortion is, the procedure is best done by a professional and legally. It is important to discuss your medical history with your doctor so that they can decide the safest method of abortion for you.

Note: We are not promoting abortion in Nigeria and just want to educate people in a non judgemental community.

Resources: Consumer Health Digest;

Planned Parenthood;

NHS;

Center for Reproductive Rights

Also Read: Miscarriages myths and facts: Is it easier to get pregnant after a miscarriage?

Written by

Julie Adeboye