The controversial ‘A’ Word

Its appalling to know that 2 % of women between the ages of 15-40 will have an abortion this year in the US alone. I believe in the UK, the percentage is even higher but atleast,the good news in these countries is that the percentage of abortions per year has significantly reduced over the years….the secret they say is the legalisation of the highly controversial process.

In Africa, where most countries are still largely classified as developing or even underdeveloped, the rate of abortions is unbeleivably high but this is not what you would find in most statistics worldwide. While searching for statistics on abortions in Africa, I only came across figures for a number of countries,mostly in south Africa. In a country like Nigeria, the figures i recall seeing cannot possibly be true…you ask why? this is because the figures recorded by international observers are those recorded by the few most likely private hospitals who admitted to having carried aout n abortion. The truth is….in most countries in Africa, abortion is illegal. In Nigeria, a country with a large percentage of religious citizens, its not just illegal, it is a sin against humanity, against God, the holy church and even against our cultural beliefs….in short…its a taboo, ‘it is that which must not be spoken of’, but who are we kidding?

If truth be told in Nigeria..atleast, 1 in every 10 female aged between 16-40 have had an abortion once, and 20 % of these population have done it twice…You might be wondering how everyone goes about it since its illegal, well there’s this popular saying in Nigeria…’know your way no be job’ (meaning..you have to be smart to get things done if not the right way…then some other way).

Virtually anyone can perform and abortion in Nigeria, from the guy at the chemist who doesnt even have a pharmaceutical qualification talk less of a surgical one to quack doctors who exist in every nook and crany of the less affluent areas of the cities, doctors in private hospitals who carry out the procedure for quick cash are not left behind in the extravaganza not to mention the ladies themselves who out of desperation or lack of funds take matters into their own hands by using the crudest of methods…from cloth hangers to poisonous concoctions of laundry bleach and/or potassium chloride…..sound gruesome? welcome to reality.

Lets back pedal a bit to the genesis of the whole problem….’the cause’. I’m a firm believer in the saying “prevention is better than cure”. Does it really have to happen? I’ll try to be objective here. In the search to finding out what would prompt a man and a woman to have casual sex when in most cases they’re fully aware of the circumstaces (what with HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases around), I gleamed a couple of answers from people male and female alike (I tell you it was no small feat…who’s gonna actually tell you they had an abortion or casual sex?) so using highly specialised methods of gossiping,backbitting, pock nosing (oyinbo name for gbeborun)….I found out from women who’ve been there and done that a few interesting things. As i’ve pointed out in previous posts, most women would only do engage in casual sex out of:

1. Igonorance

2. Love for their partners

3. Plain stupidity

4. Temporary gratification (lost in the moment)

5. for the sake of adventure

Ofcourse there would be more reasons and in some cases…a mixture of them but what seems most baffling is the fact that the guys seem always be the ones to intiate the idea in the first place and women being as gullible as we are, we buy into it and do it for reasons best known to us. Now lets take a look at what happens when the chic realises that she’s missed her period. To illustrate this, I’ll paint two scenarios (that actually happened to real people) so maybe you’ll understand the full gravity of what we’re saying here.

My first girl is in her 3rd year in uni, been good most of her life but recently became sexually active,loves her boyfriend to pieces and would do practically anything to proove it. She comes from a very strict background with strong religious influence. When a girl first realises that her period is late…the first impulse is panic. Then she tells herself she’s just fretting over nothing….cos sometimes these things happen. The stronger ones might not even inform mr man until a while; after they’re absolutey sure of they’re condition. Anyways, our girl starts getting worried after the second day..informs mr man who’s also a student by the way and they start panicking together (maybe even him more than her….she was lucky). She’s afraid to go for a test cos of wat she might find out but he wants to her to have one quick so they’ll know what to do next (see the diffence in thinking?). He eventually convinces her to go the hospital for a test and though she willed the nurse with the test tube to come back and say it turned out negative….she was pregnant. She was crushed and all she could think about was why it had to happen to her,other people have been doing it havent they?…she’s only had one boyfriend and she hadnt been promiscous…..just reckless. She never really had views on abortion but her religious doctrine was strongly against it so she tried to brace herslef to imagine how she would brake the news to her military styled father (trust that was not a pretty sight!) while battling with her demons…mr man was already calculating how much was left of his pocket money to be able to foot the bill. He knew how muh it cost because a friend had borrowed some cash from him recently to fund his girfriend’s abortion (infact…the friend recommended said hospital) mr man had no doubts watsoever…..they had to have an abortion.

Well, luckily for them, the Dr was a woman and was actually quite motherly abt the whole thing. This young lady had the D n C done that very day against her better judgement (but did she really have a choice? it was either that or face the colonel) and as she was wheeled in…all she could think about was all the gory stories she’d heard in college and movies about girls who died from complications during abortions gone bad. She tried to pray but in her circumstances…that seemed hardly logical (funny). The process was painful and excruciating and even while she narrated her ordeal to me….she was crying and i cried as well….for the baby she lost and for her sanity cos since then..she’s never forgotten that experience and she believes its a memory that will live with her for the rest of her life. But she was lucky……

My next narrator is a different ball game. She and mr boyfriend had casual sex in the heat of the moment just before boyfriend travelled for a business meeting outside their state of residence. 2 weeks later, periods missing. She calls mr…and he says not to panic…it’ll come but she is the really panicky type so to take precautions…she goes to a chemist and though it took all her courage…she asked for a drug (which she learnt from her friend was atleast 60 % effective in the first few weeks cos she’s used it) (Funny to know that the first people we run to when in trouble are friends who are probably just as ignorant). Anyways, she gets a mixture of drugs i believe….and after being given a dirty look by the woman in charge…she got her purchase, without directions or a prescription. After using the combinations diligently for two days….nothing happened. She even overdosed cos she was getting frantic and all this while she was alone…boyfriend was miles away and was calm about it all….just be patient he kept telling her. When the drugs didnt work….boyfriend started gettig worried as well..so he told her point blank….”i aint ready for no baby yet so you’re gonna have to find somewhre to have an abortion”. She was shattered, hurt and angry…..where would she find such a place(its not like there’s some yellow pages for such things) so she told him that she’ld rather wait for him to return and then he can go n find a hopsital to do it by himself. They had strings of fights over the phone which usually ended up with her in tears….tears of self pity, degradation,hopelessness,helplessness and guilt.

She eventually sought the help of another pharmacist (not sure if he was qualified as well but he ran a chemist nearby) who told her he knew a doctor friend who could help. They made an appointement for the next evening and with her heart in her throat and a feeling of trepidation..she goes to meet said doctor. Well, doctor turned out to be yet another chemist who’s surgery was just behind the drug counter(he’s office)…you still wondering where the surgery table/bed was? His very own wooden desk where he did all his paper work. When she was ushered in….she looked from one man to the other and thought..you have to be joking! she might not be too learned but atleast she knew there were dangers associated with having an abortion with quacks and she had genuinely expected a real doctor. She stood there with tears in her face and realised that it was either she took this risk or face having to find someone else who’ld be willing to do it plus the price was quite cheap (all her money). So, thats how it was that she got an abortion done on an office desk at the back of a pharmacy.

These kind of stories happen everyday around Africa…..some even worse and it must stop. Youths need to stop engaging in casual sex because the consequences are always far reaching and the scars left afterwards, could be sometimes damning. Now, some people are advocating for legalisation of abortion in Nigeria…..I dont know if I am for or against this for religious reasons but if we’re to be objective…..then we’ll know that we should provide a good system in place for women who still fall prey to their own helplessness and atleast allow them do it safely but will that not encourage promiscuity?

I have no answers to the questions posed above but i do know that i am tired of writing right now as you most probably would be tired of reading so all i can say is that lets work on prevention first and hopefully,the rest will take care of itself….

gotta go to bed…..phew!

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