Technology, e-commerce increasing abortion access in Nigeria —IPAS

Despite the harsh restrictive abortion law in Nigeria, technology and e-commerce have increased women’s access to abortion pills as opposed to in-clinic abortion services.

This was against the backdrop of an estimated 1.8 million abortions occurring in Nigeria in 2017, with more than half of the abortions classified as least safe and 11 per cent of women experiencing complications for which they sought postabortion care.

Country Director of Ipas, Mr Lucky Palmer, who made this disclosure in Ibadan at the presentation of the Nigeria Medical Abortion Study, conducted between June 2019 and April 2020, said the fact that abortion is legally restrictive in the country has not stopped the women accessing abortion pills in Nigeria or seeking for abortion.

IPAS, an international non-profit advocacy group focuses on improving and expanding women’s sexual and reproductive rights.

Mr Palmer declared “abortion pill is a safe and efficient way to end a pregnancy. However, abortion pills have become widely available through e-commerce with many women even taking unlicensed and counterfeit abortion pills.”

According to Palmer, although more women can access abortion pills, not a lot of women know its proper administration and dosage partly because they are afraid to seek advice from qualified medical professionals.

He said that liberalising abortion law in the country was long overdue if the country was serious about reducing maternal mortality.

“Abortion pill is a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy, but you must use the right medication and dosage. There is much counterfeit abortion pill in the country.  In Nigeria, there are only about six or seven legally registered abortion pills, however, over 27 brands are available in the country.

“Like many drugs, abortion pill can also be abused and there is also the problem with dosage, handling and counterfeits. These are factors that affect the efficacy of the drugs and lead to serious complications which can even permanently maim the woman. “

Dr Babatunde Adelekan, a public health scientist, presenting the result of the study on medication for abortion outside the clinic setting, said the survey found that abortion pills obtained from PMV result are comparable clinical outcomes to those accessed through the clinic.

The public health physician declared: “The result of the study contributes to evidence on the safety of early medication abortion outside of clinics and the effectiveness of misoprostol alone for induced abortion. Given the safety and efficacy of medication abortion outside of clinic setting, and Nigerian women’s demonstrated desires to manage their own abortions, abortion pills should be made accessible.

“Abortion restrictions should be reviewed and amended in accordance with the standards established in Africa Women’s Rights Protocol. The lives of Nigerian women matter and injuries from unsafe abortion are entirely preventable.”

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