Lagos State Releases Guidelines On Abortion

The Lagos State Government has released a policy document on safe pregnancy termination through the Ministry of Health.

The 40-page policy document, titled “Lagos State Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy for Legal Indications,” lays forth recommendations for safe pregnancy termination within the purview of Lagos State’s penal code.

The Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, presented and launched the document at a stakeholders’ meeting and outlined how legal therapeutic abortion is in Lagos State.

He pointed out that the policy paper was formed out of the necessity to equip health workers in the public and commercial sectors with evidence-based data and information so they may perform safe terminations to lower unnecessary fatalities.

Ogboye was reported as stating in a statement from the Lagos State Ministry of Health: “In 2011, the Lagos State House of Assembly revised the criminal law, permitting for abortion to preserve the life and safeguard the physical health of the mother. While physical health is covered by the legal framework in Lagos, the state’s health system has not yet offered treatments that complied with the law.

This publication offers information on pertinent legislation that are applicable in Lagos State as well as standards and best practices for legal indications, pre- and postoperative care, techniques, and monitoring. In the Note’s legal and healthcare systems, I must state that this paper has been the subject of extensive technical stakeholder input.

Ogboye stated that the Safe Engage initiative, sponsored by the Society for Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Nigeria and coordinated by the Lagos Ministry of Health with assistance from the Population Reference Bureau, served as the catalyst for the development of the recommendations.

He continued by saying that players in the Stater health sector collaborated with influential figures in Lagos and the South-West to create a specific advocacy tool for terminations in a legal setting.

He emphasized that the advocacy messages for the Safe Engage project were concentrated on two immediate results, including ensuring that safe abortion services were available in Lagos within the bounds of the law and domesticating the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act to support women who wanted to end a pregnancy brought on by rape or incest.

“To help with implementation, one of the project’s follow-up recommendations was the adaption of the National Standards and Guidelines for Safe Pregnancy Termination within Legal Indications to the setting of Lagos State. The Federal Ministry of Health had created and made available a compilation of conditions and situations under which a safe abortion might be carried out, known as the National Guidelines on Safe Abortion. The goal of the guideline was to improve the ability of medical professionals to recognize pregnancies that might be legally terminated. The Population Reference Bureau and Marie Stopes International in Nigeria advocated supporting the State government’s adaptation of the document.

According to the Permanent Secretary, the process for adapting National Guidelines included technical meetings to discuss legal provisions supporting safe abortion and circumstances allowed within the legal framework to protect mothers’ lives and physical health, as well as validation meetings with a larger group of stakeholders to review the document.

“Today’s distribution of the guidelines is the result of all that manual labor. We anticipate that today’s information sharing will assist healthcare professionals in providing this service within the bounds of the law, said Ogboye.

Earlier in his speech, Mr. Emmanuel Ajah, Country Director of Marie Stopes International Organization Nigeria (MSION), a prominent organization promoting reproductive health, said that abortion is not prohibited in Nigeria but is restricted.

Ajah claimed that a sizable portion of medical professionals are ignorant of the accepted medical grounds for a safe abortion.

The domestication of this policy “provides that necessary guidance to healthcare professionals on medical conditions in pregnancy that pose a high risk to the woman’s life and health if the pregnancy progresses to term, as well as on the standard management of abortion within the scope of the law in Lagos state. This regulation demonstrates the Lagos state government’s commitment to improve maternal health, particularly by reducing the negative effects of unsafe abortion practices in the State, he said.

Prof. Innocent Ujah, vice chancellor of the University of Medical Sciences in Otukpo and one of the consultants who helped create the document, asserted that the adoption, implementation, and application of these guidelines will protect the lives of pregnant women and those whose physical or mental health would be jeopardized by the continuation of their pregnancies.


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