Women Groups Tackle Sanwoolu on Suspension of Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy

Various women Groups in Lagos State tackle Governor Babajide Sanwoolu on the suspension of Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy and are demanding an immediate lifting of the suspension.

The women who came from across the state met at the conference room of a high-brow hotel in Alausa, to discuss the intent of the Guidelines and how the document supports every issue that concerns their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Dr Moriam Jagun explains that the document, State Guidelines for Safe Termination of Pregancy for Legal Indications is needed to protect women in certain conditions that put their lives at risk Photo; Healthstyleplus

For Christiana Ifeyinwa member, National Association for Persons With Disabilities, Lagos State, “since the suspension of the Guidelines meant to protect the lives of pregnant mothers with conditions medically confirmed, it is only fair that the government immediately lifts the suspension placed on the policy document”

Ifeyinwa who is physically challenged and in a wheelchair said, “You can imagine for someone in my condition to be faced with picking between the choice that gives me the dignity to live and to have such taken away, I would rather have my right to life protected”.

Journalists Task LASG, Educate Lagosians on Pregnancy Termination Guidelines

Ifeyinwa noted that where a doctor sees that a pregnancy would cause a woman’s life or add to the physical burden the woman is passing through, such a woman should actually go through the process of counseling and medical advice to make an informed decision of whether to terminate such pregnancy or to keep it.

Some of the participants at the event

“A woman who is mentally traumatized by a pregnancy or physically compromised should be allowed to make her choice from an informed perspective”, Ifeyinwa pleaded.

Over 150 participants representing civil society organizations from religious groups, market women, communities, media, academia, and medical experts among others, for several hours, had deep conversations around several topics affecting their sexual health.

Notable groups include the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN), Market women Association wing of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) TUC Women wing of CAN, and others

The women noted that the State government has good intention to protect the lives and well-being of women during pregnancy when it launched the Guidelines “particularly when pregnancies exist with conditions that can jeopardize lives of mothers and when the physical or mental wellbeing of the woman is also threatened”.

They therefore see no reason why the Governor would sucumb to pressure from a group that does not represent the interest of everyone in the state “the decision to suspend the well thought through Guidelines no doubt has so much of Political undertone and not in the interest of all the women in Lago state” the women pointed out in a statement.

The women participants

According to the Senior Programmes Manager, USAID, Dr. Moriam Olaide Jagun, public health physician, the Lagos State Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy is not new because it follows after the national guidelines which has been in existence since 2017 and is to take care of medical conditions that put women’s lives at risk in pregnancy.

She noted, “what the Lagos State Laws of 2011 did is just to adopt the national Guidelines for Safe Termination of Pregnancy for Legal Indications and include, physical health of the mother such physical consequences like having an organ damage etc as reason to terminate a pregnancy.

“And what this policy document has done is simply to translate the State Law into chewable form for medical practitioners. It is saying for medical practitioners, what are the coditions in which a woman can obtain abortion. to adopt and conveniently use in their practice”, Dr. Jagun further explained.

She explained that the 2011 Laws of Lagos State simply reviewed conditions in which pregnant women can obtain safe medical termination of pregnancy to include physical and mental health of the woman.

In Nigeria the risk of a woman dying in pregnancy stands at 512 out of every 100,000 and could be higher across some states of the country.

Convener of the sensitization meeting Women Advocacy Research and Development Centre, (WARDC), Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi observed that the launch of the 40-page Guidelines was indeed welcoming because, “its a guide to standardize and build capacity for medical professionals to save lives of pregnant women whose pregnancy continuation is a danger to their lives and physical health.

“This outcome ensured that safe abortion services were availble within legal indications in Lagos, also domesticating the Violence Aganinst Persons Prohibition Act, Section 38, it supports victims of rape and sexual violence receiving comprehensive medical care”, Akiyode-Afolabi submitted.

However with the suspension, the women are takkling Governor Sanwoolu that, “the denial of safe abortion care to rape survivors violates the right to health and privacy and may violate the prohibition of ill-treatment” revolts Akiyode-Afolabi.

Other speakers who spoke at the women engagement which was supported by UN-Spotlight Initiative included the chief executive of Media-Concern Initiative (for women and children) Dr Princess Olufemi-Kayode who noted that all there must be a deliberate effort by women from across every sector to be engaged in ending all forms of violence against women.

She is concerned that all manners of violence against women and the girl-child are rapidly on the increase while protections are not matching the waves of the violence in the country.

Reviwing the existing Laws and Policies around domestic violence and the agency, Dr Iyabode Ogunniran called on the women to get familiar with the Sexual and Domestic Violence Offences Law of the state and not to hesitate to report abuses appropriately

The women are indeed ready to tackle the Governor with a mass movement to his office if he does not lift the suspension on the Guidelines as they have demanded.

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