Abortion Is A Human Rights Issue

One of my favourite Nigerian feminist writers is Chika Unigwe. I love how she speaks on issues like sex trafficking, single parenting and the way immigrant life occurs in Europe.

In her groundbreaking novel titled On Black Sister’s Street, she made me introspect on how a poor girl’s life and lack of access to reproductive care can lead to a life of sex trafficking.

Through the character of Efe, I realised that abortion is not merely a fight for privileged women. It should be a fight for all classes of women because it can evade a lifetime of abuse and the vulnerability that comes with being a poor single mother. 

Efe was groomed by a much older man shortly after her mother died and dropped out of school. When she got pregnant, she assumed that he would take responsibility. However, he behaved like she didn’t exist and she was left to go through the birth without his help. Left with no degree and no money, she eventually agreed to go to Europe to become a prostitute under a violent madam who Efe spent close to fifteen years trying to be free from.

Sometimes I think, what if Efe lived in a country where abortion was not illegal? What if she lived in a Nigeria where abortions were subsidised and there was no shame attached to it? What if she lived in an environment that also subsidised education and had a comprehensive sex education curriculum with touch points on issues like spotting groomers? Would Efe have dropped out of school? Would she have become the victim of a groomer whose actions led her to the red light districts of Europe and extinguished her dream of becoming a writer? 

In Nigeria, abortion is illegal and is only permissible if the mother’s life is in danger. However, the problem with this is that it leaves the critical decision of a woman’s body to other people to interprete what they think is dangerous for her. What happens when a woman with a health condition wants to abort but is told to keep it because she might survive? 

What happens if said woman is given lectures of how a child’s life is important by medical personnel who care about a child much more than the safety of the person carrying it? What happens when that child is born to a mother whose health condition made her die in childbirth?

Speaking with Nana, a writer and mother, her reason for wanting the legalisation of abortion is due to the way pregnancy has adverse effects.

In her words: “My issue is not even about the child when it comes to an abortion.

It’s about the possible change in the quality of health that a woman might experience as a result of pregnancy and birth.

So why take the decision away when it’s only a woman who would shoulder the bulk of the consequences?”

She went on to say: “From paralysis to memory issues… [pregnancy] is crazy! My husband calls pregnancies diseases.

And I think that men who actually know what pregnancies entail end up wanting fewer kids or no kids at all.”

For Steph, a Ghanaian graphic designer, abortion to her is necessary because childbirth is a lifechanging event for both mother and child.

To quote her: “Safe abortion for all is a necessity because pregnancy and child-birth is an irreversible life-changing experience for both the mother and the child. 

Bringing a child into the world changes the world (because every new being causes a shift in how things might go) and a woman’s life forever, so any woman going through the process must have the choice.”

She also said: “In my opinion, if prolifers hold life as dear as they claim, they would instead advocate for people to be able to meet certain criteria before they’re allowed to procreate. There are too many unhappy and depressed humans on earth as we speak.”

Asides the fact that the need for abortion will always be a thing even for women who are married, it is important to note that every child must come to the world feeling wanted.

It is better to have a child that one truly wants than take out resentment on a child because a woman couldn’t have an abortion and is made poorer.

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