A resident doctor, Dr Obinna Aniagboso, says effective family planning methods would help reduce unwanted pregnancies and risks associated with unsafe abortions.
Aniagboso, an Obstetrics and Gynaecology expert at the Chukwuemeka Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUTH), Amaku, Awka said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka on Thursday. He also said that legalising abortion would help drastically reduce mortality, morbidity and infertility amongst women.
According to him, while awareness about family planning is about 80 per cent, its acceptance among the people is still as low as 20 per cent.
The gynaecologist blamed the poor embrace of contraceptives, which he said was the most effective planning method, on religious belief systems, ignorance and fear of side effects.
He said that withdrawal method and other natural method used by many people often failed and was contributing immensely to unwanted pregnancies, illegal abortion and population surge.
“Awareness on family planning is close to 80 per cent but acceptance is less than 20 per cent. “Most patients shy away for religious reasons, ignorance and fear of side effects, including weight gain and irregular spotting.
“The use of contraceptives is very unpopular; only a few educated women do family planning, and funnily, lots of husbands advise their wives against it. “We advocate the use of contraceptive as the most reliable method of spacing families and avoiding unplanned pregnancies.
“Some couples use withdrawal and natural methods that involve avoiding intercourse during the wife’s fertile period, but these methods are prone to mistakes,’’ he said.
Aniagboso told NAN that the issue of unwanted pregnancies had increased the demand for abortion by the sexually active female population.
He regretted that the stringent abortion law in Nigeria had denied these people expert services and left them at the mercy of quacks with its attendant danger that includes post-abortion sepsis, which could eventually cause infertility.
The medical practitioner said that in spite of the legal limitation and societal disapproval for abortion in Nigeria, people still sought and accessed the services. He, therefore, advocated that the practice (abortion) be liberalised to help meet the prevailing social health challenges.
He said there was a high level of hypocrisy around abortion as most people, who opposed it in the open, access it behind the scene for their wives or mistresses. According to him, people get abortion services because it is available and when it is done professionally, the rate of complications like infertility will reduce.
“The legality or illegality of abortion is a controversial issue and the subject of heated debate, court cases and torrid campaigns globally. “Some medical professionals, and even some quacks that include chemists and pharmacists, offer abortion behind the scene.
“This is because the demand for abortion is high among young sexually active women. “Many medical doctors avoid abortion mostly because of their personal principles and religious beliefs.’’
He said, however, that the prevailing opinion amongst public health professionals, especially in developed countries, was that abortion should be legalised so that girls and women could easily access these services from professionals instead of being left to die in the hands of quacks.
Legalising abortion will help drastically reduce the mortality and morbidity (including infertility) amongst our women who patronise quack abortionists, Aniagboso said.
He observed that it was difficult in Nigeria because of the strong influence of religion in our lives and politics.