1.1 Background of the study
Abortion is a relatively used term. It is the word used to describe the act of termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a foetus or embryo prior to viability. The term “Abortion” most commonly refers to the induced removal of human pregnancy. It could mean a plan or arrangement which takes place in the foetus before it can develop properly.
In Nigeria, as in all parts of the world, women experience unplanned pregnancy. Some of these women seek to terminate their pregnancies by safe medical methods or by other unorthodox methods available. The procurement of abortion is by no means a new phenomenon in Nigeria. The main reason why young girls and women procure abortion is always changing. Increasingly, women procure abortion due to desire to avoid premarital births and to control family size (Aboyeji, 2003). However, abortion as it is used in this study is the act of terminating or stopping the development of a child in the womb of a woman either by medical operation or self medication.
Abortion, when induced in the developed world in accordance with local laws is among the safest procedures in medicine. Notwithstanding, unsafe abortion occurs in approximately 70,000 maternal death and 5 million cases of disabilities are recorded yearly, globally (www.wikipedia.com). Abortion is an age old practise, it was universally practised but not universally accepted. It was seen as a social evil, one that brought down the curse of the gods. The evil notion that primitive people heard about was so profound that it was believed in some tribes that abortion committed by a married woman could cause the husband to be sterile especially when the husband is not responsible (Olaitan, 2003)
The above reasons did not stop the practise of abortion among primitive people. Women in the olden days would rather have their pregnancy terminated than to have the child to be raised in slavery. Pregnancies involving members of the same family were aborted because it was seen as a taboo. Lactating women who become pregnant had the pregnancies aborted to ensure the flow of milk for the living child.
Primitive men used crude, traumatic and often ineffective means to terminate pregnancy which led to the deaths of the victims. Today, abortion continues to be practised whether forbidden or accepted for a variety of social, political, economic and religious reason that are not completely different from those given by primitive men (Boyd, 2006).
Over the years, due to advanced science and technology, man has been able to tackle problems more effectively than primitive men. Modern man has been able to eradicate lots of diseases from the face of the earth and invented easier and faster means of cooking and transportation which is seen as less primitive, why is he still very primitive in the way he solves the problem of unwanted pregnancies?
Abortion is seen by many in the world today as immoral and ungodly, an act that calls for a punishment from both God and man. Many others still see abortion as a means of regulating the population and balancing the socio economic needs of the family. For this above reason, abortion has been the centre of many legal, social, political and religious debates in the countries all over the world (Jones, 2004)
Abortion is a life threatening issue, one that has claimed the lives of thousands of young women and girls all over the world, therefore, it is an issue that concerns everyone in the society no matter what your stand is on abortion. Consider a young girl of fourteen who gets pregnant and is desperate for a solution. Since she is unable to face the consequences of pregnancy at this age, she may not even know who is responsible for her pregnancy after realising she is pregnant due to obvious signs of pregnancy (nausea, insomnia, etc). She may decide to procure an abortion either on her own or with the aid of someone in order to cover shame. The image is frightening that a young girl of such a tender age, both physically, psychologically, and emotionally immature finds herself on an operating table where she gives her body and life to the sharp instrument of an abortionist.
On the other hand, this young girl may decide to procure an abortion herself or may find herself in the hands of quacks such as half-baked nurses, medical school dropouts, traditional medicine practitioners and other paramedical quacks which could lead to loss of life or sustenance of severe complications which may affect the womb. In this situation, who is to blame for her death? Is it her teachers, parents, peers, the young girl herself, the abortionist or the society at large? The plight of these young adolescents at this period of life is pitiable because they probably have been exposed to sexual intercourse at a very young age. They also may have indulged in sex without being aware of the consequences of their action which in fact speaks of ignorance and innocence. Again, these young girls may have been lured into sex by older members of the community seeking pleasure. These individuals may deceive these young girls to engage in premarital sex.
In whatever way abortion is performed on these young girls, whoever the abortionist is and whatever reasons these girls have to procure abortion, the fact still remains that these young girls are dying daily in their thousands and nothing has been done to remedy the situation.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Despite the fact that a large number of women die every day all over the world as a result of abortion, the practise is still increasing. It is a worrisome problem worldwide and the rate at which it is procured is alarming. Families have experienced the trauma of losing a child, marriages have been broken because some young girls have become barren before marriage, all as a result of too many abortions. When death from abortion occurs, the argument on who is responsible is endless. Therefore, it is pertinent to reflect on the abortion problem and find out what it is that makes young girls who are still at puberty stage procure abortion. So far, very little has been done on reasons responsible for adolescents' procurement of abortion and the increase in mortality rate. This leaves a gap in Nigerian health education literature and hence the study.
1.3 Research Questions
- Is there an increase mortality rates in abortion related cases among young girls in Benin metropolis?
- How can mortality rates be reduced in abortion related cases among young girls in Benin metropolis?
- Which approaches can be used in counselling abortion victims?
- If abortion is legalised, will it reduce maternal mortality rates?
- Is government contributing to increase in abortion related cases?
1.4 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is hinged on educating young girls in Benin metropolis about the dangers and complications of abortion as well as to reduce mortality rate among young girls on related issues.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study may help create public awareness on the dangers of abortion and help in educating young girls on the “do's and don'ts” of abortion related issues. This study is geared towards making necessary recommendations on alternative solutions to abortion. The findings of the study may go a long way in discouraging young girls from procuring abortion and helping the government in solving the problem. This study would also form a basis for further research work in abortion and related problems in Nigeria.
1.6 Limitations of the study
This study was limited geographically to the three (3) local government area that make up Benin metropolis (Egor, Ikpoba Okha, and Oredo). It was affected by the reluctance of various hospitals in Benin metropolis to make public records on abortion patients available and unwillingness by several young girls who may have procured abortion to divulge useful piece of information.
There was also difficulty in circulating and retrieving questionnaire forms due to high cost of transportation and brevity of time for the project.
1.7 Delimitation of the Study
This study attempted to analyse reasons responsible for increase in abortion and mortality rates among young women in Benin metropolis
1.8 Definition of terms
- Abortionist; A person who carries out abortion on pregnant women in order to get money.
- Insomnia; Lack of sleep due to worry on how to proffer solutions on unwanted pregnancies.
- Mortality; Death especially on a large scale.
- Nausea; The feeling that one is about to vomit as experienced in early stages of pregnancy.
- Flight; Unfortunate situation obtained from unwanted pregnancy.
- Premarital sex; Sex indulged in before marriage.
- Primitive; Denoting the earliest times of development.
- Procure; Persuade or cause to do abortion.
- Trauma; An emotionally, painful and harmful event.
- Tender age; Used to describe the young and inexperienced child