Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law


The available statistics indicate that over 1,000,000 abortions occur in Nigeria annually, representing about 33 abortions per 1,000 women of child bearing age. It has also been asserted that illegal abortion is responsible for about 11% of maternal death in Nigeria and 50% of such deaths involve adolescents and young women. Although, it may be difficult to confirm these reports and statistics by different researchers, mainly because of the absence of official figures owing to the clandestine nature of abortion in Nigeria, there is no doubt that abortions are generally procured by women for various reasons, namely: financial and emotional inability to care for a baby; fear of rejection by partners, parents, peer groups, religious and community leaders and society if the pregnancy is discovered; as means of birth control; physical and mental reasons; if they are too young or too sick to have a baby; desire to get rid of unwanted pregnancies arising from several reasons including rape or failure of contraception, etc. Unfortunately, the state of the law on abortion in Nigeria has failed to recognize these realities thereby unwittingly encouraging illegal abortions with the attendant consequences. This paper examines the state of the law on abortion in Nigeria in comparison with other jurisdictions with a view to demonstrating that the Nigerian law is archaic and in dire need of reform.

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