Abortion Among Adolescents

Project and Seminar Material for Public Health

Abortion Among Adolescents


The Nigeria society is very much concerned about the mortality rate of adolescents due to abortion. Abortion has been the major cause of adolescents death in present times. Today, abortion when performed by experts may not result in adolescents death. The main objective of this study is to examine abortion among adolescents in Nigeria. An estimated 456,000 unsafe abortions are done in Nigeria every year and women who engage in unsafe abortion were about 20,000 each year.

The major causes of abortion among adolescents are poverty, dishonour from illegitimacy, education, shame, prostitution, strict parents, rape and peer pressure. Unsafe abortions are major cause of serious complications and maternal mortality. Induced abortion make the young girl to develop chronic pelvic inflammatory diseases, chronic vaginal discharge, infertility as a result of unsterilized instrument that was used during the act. Strategies should be put in place to prevent unwanted pregnancies that could lead to unsafe abortion.

Adolescents should be taught ways of preventing unwanted pregnancies such as use of contraceptives. Parents should be friends with their adolescent children. This will make them free and enable them to open up and have confidence in their parents, so that they will be able to tell their parents their problems. This can stop a child from performing an abortion.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the study

For a very long time now, both the young and old have taken abortion issue with great concern, whether the person is literate or illiterate in our society or not. A lot of cries and lives have risen about abortion in very many distinguished scholars and educators have done a lot researching on issues relating to abortion, despite all done by these resource personnel, it is disheartening and highly regrettable to note that people still have crude attitude towards abortion.

Issues of abortion for adolescents are embedded in the status and meaning of abortion in the country in which they are living. For adolescents in much of the world, particularly in developing countries, the major problem is access to safe, legal abortion. One quarter of women in the world live in countries in which abortion is either completely prohibited or permitted only to save the woman’s life (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2019). These restrictions are not limited to adolescents but apply to women of allages. In such countries, the only option for terminating an unwanted pregnancy is illegal abortion, which carries a high risk of morbidity and mortality. Even in countries where abortion is legal, women may not have access to safe abortions, and adolescents may turn to illegal or unsafe providers or practices.

In modern age of ours, people still get upset and feel shy sometimes at the mere mention of the word ‘abortion’ Also, most student are still ignorant about abortion related issues. As a result of this crude attitude towards abortion, more harm have been done than good to many innocent souls whose lives would have been saved if the right steps and attitudes had been taken at the appropriate time to savage such situation.

Abortion is a global issue in our contemporary society. In developing countries, especially Nigeria, evidence of abortion is obvious in towns and villages as undeveloped neonates are discovered around bush paths, behind maternity premises and besides university hostels and public borrow-pits. Some pharmacy stores have been shut down and doctors apprehended for unlawful participation in practicing abortion. Zastrow and Krist-Ashman (2017), defined abortion as the “termination of pregnancy by removing an embryo or fetus from the uterus before it can survive on its own outside the womb”.

This act is observed to be done by all classes of women, especially female undergraduate students from all socio-economic and marital status; cultural and religious backgrounds are no restrictions. Early initiation of coitus in the adolescent is often done without birth control and many result in pregnancy which most likely lead to abortion (National Statistical Service, Ministry of Health, and ICF, 2017).

A close observation of the incidence of abortion in Nigeria shows that abortion is very rampant. It is a common practice among female undergraduate students. Personal experiences by the researchers of frequent occurrence of complications from abortion which often result in death across the states and in various hospitals throughout the country confirm the high rate of abortion in Nigeria. The Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey affirmed the high rate of abortion when it revealed that 91.73 percent of government hospitals and 97.58 percent of private hospitals in Nigeria have attended to patients suffering from abortion complications on an annual basis (National Population Commission Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2014).

According to Nairaland (2019), a17-year old girl in a secondary school in Port Harcourt died as a result of complications from abortion of a pregnancy of about three months old. Another case was an undergraduate who aborted a pregnancy in a roadside chemist. Few hours, later she complained of pains in her lower abdomen and was rushed to University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital where she died of the complications. Cases of this nature are frequent occurrence in various parts of Nigeria (Utibeabasi, 2020).

Enquiries have shown that abortion is done for several reasons. The most common and obvious reason of all the considerations is that abortion as a last resort to unwanted pregnancy. For female undergraduate students, a pregnancy is principally unwanted because of the fear and shame of interruption in education, fear of parents’ rejection, and the stigma associated with bringing up a child born out of wedlock, as well as the fact that a pregnant female may be ignorant of the person responsible for the pregnancy.

Abortion is observed to be done at any stage of pregnancy. Most people carry it out at the first trimester, others at the second trimester and a few even at the last trimester notwithstanding the dangers that could result from such acts. A large number of female undergraduate students who seek abortion, do so personally at home, taking self-prescribed drugs and herbs. Some carry out abortion personally by self-administration of drugs that they have seen from the social media online as the Revolutionary Information Age has made possible (Kpolovie & Lale, 2017; Kpolovie & Onoshagbegbe, 2017).

Some get it done with drugs or herbs prescribed by unprofessional doctors, nurses, midwives pharmacist as well as traditional birth attendants/herbalists. However, a few get it done secretly in private hospitals and clinics by professional doctors and nurses. Abortion, though widely practised in the Nigerian society, has long-term attendant consequences that include physical health problem, psychological and social problems that are dangerous and destructive, sometimes culminating in death. This study is therefore carried out in order to examine abortion among adolescents in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Despite the fact that a large number of adolescents die everyday all over the world as a result of abortion, the practice is still increasing. It is a world growing problem and the rate at which is procured earned it the name “the Abortion Epidemic”.

Psychological and emotional problems such as depression, guilt trauma, not forgiving oneself and transfer of aggression are also observed to be common experience of those who carryout abortion. Also, these emotional problems may result in some maladjusted behaviour and social problems that affect the home and society at large. Therefore, the study sought to identify the causes, rates and ways of curbing abortion among adolescents in Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the study

The main objective of this study is to examine abortion among adolescents in Nigeria. The specific objectives are;

  1. To examine the causes of abortion among adolescents.
  2. To identify the effects of abortion on adolescents.
  3. To provide ways for preventing abortion among adolescents
  4. To examine the various ways of managing abortion.

1.4 Research questions

  1. What are the causes of abortion among adolescents?
  2. What are the effects of abortion on adolescents?
  3. What are the ways for preventing abortion among adolescents?
  4. What are the various ways of managing abortion?

1.5 Significance of study

The problem of unwanted pregnancy and abortion at the community is very high, this is due to the fact that majority of people mainly because of the social and cultural norms are not open to discuss on the sensitive issue of abortion and unplanned pregnancies.

The importance of the study is to create public awareness on the dangers of abortion and make necessary recommendations as to what is the alternative help to abortion.

Also, as a way of discouraging young girls from procuring abortion and would also help the government in solving the problem.

Chapter Three

Summary, Conclusion And Recommendations

3.1 Summary

The study revealed that abortion is a major cause of adolescent death. Other discussions were the reasons why adolescents engage in abortion, which were discussed extensively such as shame, poverty, prostitution, etc.

The study also revealed that induced abortion has various consequences on the person who engages in it, such as infertility and complication.

The study is built on the various ways of controlling abortion among adolescents such as organizing seminars and workshop on the effects of abortion. Also by banning pornographic films from being shown on the screen, also by teaching adolescents the various contraceptives that are available. The study also revealed that peer influence induce adolescents to engage in abortion.

3.2 Conclusion

This study was carried out on abortion among adolescents. Unsafe abortion is a serious public health crisis in Nigeria that requires collective efforts of all the relevant stakeholders (government, healthcare professionals, non-governmental organizations, the media, religious organizations and other professionals). The mortalities and health impacts from unsafe abortion is highly devastating to the women, their families and to the society. As such, unsafe abortion has to be treated by government of Nigeria as a national priority if we are to meet the target of reducing maternal mortality. Confronting this silent killer will not only reduce maternal morbidity and mortality, but will improve the socioeconomic wellbeing of the families and the nation in general. Below are the recommendations that should be made available to Nigerian government and all the other stakeholders responsible for promoting maternal health in the country.

3.3 Recommendations

3.3.1 Policy
  1. The government and other policy makers should expand legal indications for abortion in the country, which will be more acceptable to the large segment of the society and could improve and enlarge safe abortion services in the public health facilities.
  2. The Nigerian government should make sex education mandatory in all secondary schools across the nation as one of the measures to reduce unwanted pregnancies.
  3. The government should make contraception available to all Nigerian men and women at all facilities.
  4. The government should make it as a policy if a girl becomes pregnant she is allowed to come back to school to complete her education after delivery.
3.3.2 Healthcare Services
  1. The government of Nigeria should be more responsive to the health needs of the population. Specifically to provide resources and materials needed for effective healthcare provision targeting reproductive health services such as:
  2. Train and strengthen the capacity of medical doctors in abortion provision and management of post abortion complications.
  3. Make contraception available, accessible and affordable in all healthcare facilities across the states from tertiary hospitals to the primary health care facilities.
  4. Build the capacity and sensitize nurses and midwives to actively promote uptake of contraception within the hospital and their communities.
  5. Establish and strengthen youth friendly services across the country so that adolescent boys and girls can walk in and access contraception and condoms.

3.3.3 Community and media

  1. Advocacy campaigns should be intensified to:
  2. Sensitize the general public about the magnitude and high rate of maternal death from unsafe abortion in the country.
  3. Engage politicians, community and religious leaders and women organizations about the consequences of criminalizing abortion.
  4. Sensitize the community about the importance of contraception.
  5. Empower women within the community to reduce poverty and make them financially independent.

3.3.4 Research
  1. Research should be conducted as to determine magnitude of unsafe abortion in the country, its causes and its health and social consequences.
  2. Research should be conducted to why women prefer to use unsafe methods in spite the availability of safe methods.
  3. An exploratory study should be conducted to find out to which extent abortion law in the country affects the safety of the procedure.

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