What is Abortion?
The term"Abortion"can be defined in different ways. For this discourse, we selected a few definitions to be expatiated upon. Our first source was looking at the dictionary meaning of the word Abortion. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary,"Abortion" is a spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus during the 12 weeks of gestation. On the other hand, it is an induced expulsion of a human fetus.
We had 4 (Four Panelists) who critically gave their various views about Abortion. Pastor MacDonald Iyamu (Panelist 1) defined Abortion as a deliberate act or means to stop a life.
Dr. Bright Oniovokukor a Medical Doctor and a member of the panel (Panelist 4) defined Abortion as a deliberate attempt to stop the on-going Conception.
Globally, there are two Schools of thoughts vis-à-vis this topical issue:the Pro-abortionists and the Anti-abortionists. The crux of this discourse is to bridge the gap between both Schools of thought.
Aims and Objectives
The discourse intends to achieve the following:
- To enlighten the Public on the Pros and Cons of Abortion as a subject matter.
- To harmonize the Pro-abortionists and the Anti-abortionists.
- To sensitize Young People on the need to abstain from pre-marital sex.
- To awaken the Government, private School Owners to the introduction of sexuality education to the School Curriculum.
The Chairman (Sir Surveyor Solomon Jaiye Ojeikere)
The Chairman of the event, Sir (Surv) Solomon Jaiye Ojeikere started by giving a historical background of abortion. He stated that China at time had the problem of overpopulation and that it became apparent to regulate the birth rate. He made allusion to Egypt in terms of the birth rate. He noted that Catholics have been pondering on whether to start allowing women use contraceptives to control birth rate. He concluded by saying that even the Doctor’s may try to deny it but, birth control could be another form of abortion.
The Guest of Honor (Dr Carol Akande-Dickson)
She started by defining abortion as the deliberate termination of human conception. She quoted from Genesis 2:7 to justify her stands on the illegality of abortion as an act, and also referred the house to some background materials from the American Scene. She did an x-ray of the divergent views of the Pro-life and the Pro-choice people. She stressed her points by citing scriptural verses from the Holy Bible and stating emphatically that there is no room for abortion which she cited and corroborated with the Book of Jeremiah. According to her, God knows the conception in the womb of a woman even before it is brought to term. She went on to say that, God does not permit us to kill a fetus and that God sees human life as invaluable. She furthered by saying that, abortion is evil and satanic and it is not of God. According to her, the problem we have in the society is attributed mainly to a drift of our family life values or foundation drift. To her, both male and female sexes should be educated on the issue of pre-marital sex and warned about the dangers of illicit sexual activities.
First Panelist (Stella Ojeme)
The discourse began with Stella Ojeme (Coordinator Child Protection Network - CPN Edo State Chapter) looked at Abortion from the Legal perspective. She cited that Section 297 of the Criminal Code which states that abortion is illegal. Since she is a law abiding Citizen of Nigeria, she holds on to that belief. To her, there is an alarming rate of violence against the Girl child in Nigeria. She also said that, vulnerable people are on the increase and that there are laws to guide us through the process e.g. the Constitution, Child Rights Law and Conventions.
On the legal stand point on abortion, she started by saying that Nigeria as a Nation is against abortion and opined that Reproductive Rights are Human Rights e.g. maternal care and child upbringing etc. According to her, a woman has the right to take care of herself and also to decide on the number of children to give birth to. On her views on the incessant increase of rape and defilement of children, young ladies and even old women, she emphasized that rape is a criminal offence. She went further to state that the term defilement is used in cases where the victim is below the age of 18 and rape to mean when the victim is above the age 18 and when the act is committed without her consent.She went on to quote verbatim one of the Child Rights Law which states that "things should be done in the best interest of the Child". She ended by lending her voice and to support Dr Carol Akande-Dickson to urge young people to abstain from any form of pre-marital sex.
Second Panelist (MacDonald Iyamu)
The second Panelist indicated that there are two Schools of thoughts on the issues about abortion. He noted that as Nigerians, we belong to the resistance school and that it is detested at any length. He went on to say that most young girls are not ready for womanhood. He spoke on abortion from the angle of the Church, indicating that the Church gets her laws from the Scriptures. He quoted verbatim from the Scriptures which states:"Thou shall not kill"and that abortion is the termination of a life. That in the New Testament Jesus Christ states that” Thoushall love Thy neighbor as thyself", indicating that love is the ultimate. He went on discuss the rape issue saying that if a girl child, young lady or woman is raped, the victim should immediately be taken to the hospital for immediate medical attention. On the issue of pre-marital sex, he drew his referral from a verse in the Holy Bible which states that"all things are possible". To him, since God tells us to stay away from sex, it therefore means that Man must abstain from it. He collaborated his explanation by quoting from the scriptures of the Holy Bible Matthew 5:27-28 to buttress his claim. According to him, if we can deal with the issue of lust, we can deal with the issue of abortion. To him, abortion can only hold sway based on an agreement between couples to terminate a harmful fetus.He opined that the best way to deal with a problem is to get to the root course of that problem. In the same vein, the issue of lust can be dealt with from the foundation.He ended by saying that Parents should teach their Children and also equip them.
Third Panelist (Jane Osagie)
Jane Osagie noted that there is a difference between termination and prevention indicating that she maintains a middle ground on the issue of abortion. To her, abortion is a crime in Nigeria and that the only case where abortion is procured is when the fetus poses serious danger to life of the Mother.
She went on to say that, abortion can be procured on the following grounds:
- When the Mother's health is at stake.
- Rape by one person orGang rape.
- As a result of incest.
Just like Sir (Surv) S.J Ojeikere had cited, she also referred to China where infanticide was being committed because of the laws governing the Chinese People, and that there was a deficit of females in China. She gainsaid the acceptance of abortion as a means of contraception.On the issue of pre-marital sex among young People, she opined that young people can stay away from sex. She historically refreshed the audiences minds on the need to verify the chastity and virginity of the female children and that women were checked for virginity and in the same way, the males should be checked as well. She indicated that abstinence is the way out and that parent and guardians should teach their children and wards to abstain from pre-marital sex. She went on to say that, we fail to treat the cause, but we treat the symptoms. Point noting is the fact that contraception does not stop the contraction of HIV Virus according to her.
Fourth Panelist (Dr. Bright Oniovokukor)
According to Dr Bright Oniovokukor, abortion is a deliberate attempt to stop the on-going conception. He biologically explained the processes involved in bringing Babies to term. He quoted from the international scene on this debatable topic. According to him, abortion can occur in two ways, namely: deliberate and spontaneous ways. Deliberate abortion is a willful termination of a life and Spontaneous abortion could mean a termination that is attributed to nature. He also maintained a middle ground on this topical and debatable issue as well. He went on to say that, most people procure abortion owing to the economic situation in the country. And that these pro-abortionists carry out this act based on their predicament.
On the issue of abstinence from pre-marital sex by young people, he responded by saying that young people can abstain from sexual intercourse. He stated that, religious sentiments should be done away with, and that some parents are in support of this illicit act their children and wards engage in.To him, young people can abstain from illicit sex but we must curb them from their early phase in their developmental stage of life. He indicated that it takes the grace of God for young people who are already into illicit sex to change.To him, the avoidance of advocacy against abortion is the causality of its prevalence. He stressed on to say that, it is needful for us as advocates to talk about abortion and educate people as well.He went on to stress that abortion must be demystified, which is spelling out what abortion entails.According to him, the health of a person goes beyond their physical and mental state of mind.
The Government should come up with technological laws that will align with the existing laws such as spiritual, traditional or conventional laws.
- There should be a high level of awareness on this topical issue.
- The government should train Teachers on the need to educate young people on abortion, rape andillicit sex.
- The Government should professionalize social works in every school.
- The Government should make the environment safe for Children to stop further rape defilement.
- Medical practitioners should demystify abortion as an act, which is to educate people.
- The Government should have a picture of what abortion is.
- The Government should fund Orphanage Homes and rehabilitation centersto partner with the Keyplayers on the mission of rescuing abandoned Babies.
- The Government should as well work with women in reality.
- Sexuality education should be introduced into the School curriculum.
This discourse centered on bridging the gap between the pro-abortionists and the anti-abortionists. This was characterized with mixed reactions on this topical issue, from different panelists stemming from the Moral, religious, medical and the legal perspectives.It resolved on the need to educate people on abortion, train teachers on this issue, to introduce sexuality education into the school curriculum and suchlike.