According to the Lagos State administration, the Ministry of Health has created a set of guidelines for legal abortion.
The 40-page policy document, titled “Lagos State Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy for Legal Indications,” lays out recommendations for safe pregnancy termination within the purview of the state’s penal code.
The document was presented and inaugurated by Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, the ministry’s permanent secretary, on Tuesday in Lagos at a stakeholders’ engagement.
He added that the policy paper was created in response to the requirement to equip health workers in the public and commercial sectors with evidence-based data and information who have the required skills and training to conduct safe terminations in order to reduce unnecessary fatalities.
In spite of the therapeutic termination of pregnancy being legal, the permanent secretary said, the lack of clear regulations has prevented its efficient application at the proper levels of care, leading to avoidable fatalities.
He added that in 2011, the Lagos State House of Assembly changed the criminal code to include provisions for abortion in order to save the woman’s life and preserve her physical health.
“The legal system in Lagos covers physical health, but the state’s health system has not provided services that comply with the law.
In addition to offering standards and best practices for legal indications, pre- and post-procedure care, techniques, and monitoring, this publication includes information on pertinent legislation that are applicable in Lagos State.
I must say that this document underwent extensive technical stakeholder consultation within the state’s legal and health care contexts.
According to Ogboye, the Safe Engage initiative, which was sponsored by the Society for Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Nigeria (SOGON) and led by the ministry with assistance from the Population Reference Bureau, served as the catalyst for the development of the recommendations (PRB).
He continued by saying that major opinion leaders in Lagos and the south-west area collaborated with stakeholders in the health sector to create a specific advocacy tool for terminations in a legal environment.
The permanent secretary emphasized that the advocacy messages for the Safe Engage project were concentrated on two immediate results, including ensuring that safe abortion services were accessible in Lagos within the bounds of the law and domesticating the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act to support women who wanted to end a pregnancy brought on by rape or incest.
The adaption of the National Standards and Guidelines for Safe Termination of Pregnancy within Legal Indications within the Lagos State context was one of the project’s follow-up recommendations, he stated.
The National Guidelines on Safe Pregnancy Termination, which highlight a list of conditions and situations in which termination of pregnancy may be initiated, were developed and made widely available by the Federal Ministry of Health.
The goal of the recommendation was to increase the ability of medical personnel to spot pregnancies that may be ended legally.
Other speakers at the occasion included Professor Innocent Ujah, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Medical Sciences, Otukpo, Country Director of Marie Stopes International Organization Nigeria (MSION), Emmanuel Ajah, and Ayodele Atsenuwa, Professor of Law at the University of Lagos.