Abortion is outlawed under our laws, writes Sonnie Ekwowusi

The abortion directives issued last week by the Lagos State Governor Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to the effect that Lagosians can now “safely” kill their unborn babies without any qualms are illegal and therefore null and void. Frankly speaking I don’t know why the governor has allowed himself to be drafted into the simmering, highly-sensitive political, cultural, religious, moral and contentious issue of abortion. I don’t know any Nigerian politician who had promoted abortion without his or her political career being ruined. Already the Sanwo-Olu’s abortion directives have sparked off demonstrations in Lagos and Abuja. The Governor’s abortion directives   fragrantly violate sections 145, 146, 147 and 201 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State (as amended in 2011); sections 228, 229,230, 297, 309, 328, of the Criminal Code Act CAP C38 (and their equivalent provisions in the Penal Code); sections 3,4, and 17 of the Child Rights Act 2003; Child’s Right Law of Lagos State 2015: sections 17 and 33 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution; Articles, 3, 4 and 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Preamble to the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (ratified and adopted by Nigeria). Therefore, as earlier stated, the aforesaid abortion directives issued last week by the Lagos State Governor are illegal and therefore null and void.

Therefore the Lagos State Governor is humbly advised to withdraw the abortion directives. Why? Because the abortion directives or policies cannot be enforced or obeyed in Lagos State. It is trite law that directives or policies that are ultra vires the existing laws of the land or do not fall within the ambit of the laws of the land or are in violation of the laws of the land cannot be enforced or obeyed in the State. Only enacted laws or Acts can be enforced or obeyed. Governor’s Directives that are in flagrant violation of the laws of the land cannot be enforced. The combined effects of sections 145, 146, 147, 201 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State (as amended in 2011) and sections 228, 229,230, 297, 309, 328, of the Criminal Code Act CAP C38 (and their equivalent provisions in the Penal Code) is that anybody who, with an intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman or intents to abort or kill her baby in the woman by unlawfully administering on her any noxious substance or contraceptives or pills or drugs or instruments or by inserting instruments into the womb of the woman and crushing her baby to pieces in order to achieve the aforesaid purpose is guilty of a felony punishable under the various sections of the Criminal Code of Lagos or the Criminal Act of the Federation. In fact, section 328 of the Criminal Act prescribes life imprisonment for killing an unborn child. The section stipulates: “Any person who when a woman is about to be delivered of a child prevents the child from being born alive by any act or omission of such a nature, that, if the child had been born alive and had then died, he would be deemed to have unlawfully killed the child, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for life”. Section 17(1) of the Child’s Right Act 2003 clearly provides for the right of the unborn child. It states: “A child may bring an action for damages against a person for harm or injury caused to the child willfully, recklessly, negligently or through neglect before, during or after the birth of that child”. In similar fashion, section 16(1) of the Child’s Law of Lagos State 2015 clearly provides for the right of the unborn child. It states thus: . “Right of the unborn child to protection against harm, etc. (1) A child may bring an action for damages against a person for harm or injury caused to the child willfully, recklessly, negligently or through neglect before, during or after the birth of that child”. The  preamble to the CRC states:  “Bearing in mind that, as indicated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”.

The deduction from the forgoing is that abortion is outlawed under our laws. In fact, both sections 16(1) of the Child’s Law of Lagos State 2015 and 17(1) of the Child’s Right Act 2003 clearly provide that an unborn child can bring a legal suit, of course via locus parentis or guardian ad lite, against any person for damages for harm or injury willfully or negligently inflicted on the child before its birth, during its birth and after its birth. So, you can see that the unborn child enjoys enormous the right to life under our laws.  Therefore unless the aforesaid laws are amended to permit the killing of unborn babies, the Lagos State Governor has no right to issue directives approving the killing of the unborn babies in Lagos State. It is instructive to note that section 201 of the Criminal law of Lagos State erroneously relied upon by abortionists to argue that medical abortions are permissible in Lagos State to “save the life and protect the physical health of the woman” does not by any stretch of imagination prescribe abortion. Section 201 merely states that a person or a medical doctor is not criminally liable for any surgical operation performed in good faith and with due diligence on any person for his benefit, or upon an unborn child for the preservation of the mother’s life. Therefore section 201 is not an exception allowing the procurement of abortion in Lagos State. Equally section 297 of the Criminal Act is worded exactly like section 201 of the Lagos State Criminal law. Again section 297 is not an exception allowing procurement of abortion. The Dublin Declaration on Maternal Health 2012 and other declarations unequivocally state that abortion is not medically necessary even to save the life of a pregnant woman. So why are these abortionists misinforming the Lagos populace? In any case, assuming section 201 of the Criminal law of Lagos State permits medical abortion in Lagos State, it would be inconsistent with the provisions of the Criminal Act and other federal laws, and, to the extent of that inconsistency would be null and void. By virtue of the doctrine of covering the field, the Criminal Act and other federal law have outlawed abortion in Nigeria.

Therefore Sanwo-Olu’s directives or any Lagos Law “legalizing” abortion in Lagos State, would, to the extent of their express or implied inconsistency with the Criminal Act or other Federal laws, be held null and void and no effect whatsoever. In other words, in the event of any inconsistency between the Lagos law on abortion and the Criminal Act and other federal laws on abortion, the latter will prevail to the extent of the inconsistency. Those who pretend or feign ignorance of the right of the unborn child forget that in the U.K, and, I think in other criminal jurisdiction, any person who kills a pregnant woman is charged for double murder, that is, he is first charged for the murder of the pregnant woman, and, then separately charged for killing the unborn child in the woman’s womb. If the fetus in the womb is not a human being, why is the murderer of a pregnant woman charged for double murder or homicide? 

What is most unacceptable about the Governor’s abortion directives is that the critical stakeholders such as the Churches, Mosques, traditional rulers, purveyors of Nigeria’s cultural heritage, security agents, anti-abortion legal practitioners, anti-abortion medical practitioners were not consulted or invited in the fashioning out of the 40-page abortion directives. The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins has just issued a press statement condemning the legalization of abortion in Lagos State and stating that the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos was never invited or consulted in the making of the abortion directives. Neither were Muslims in Lagos invited or consulted. The Pentecostals were not consulted either. Only abortionists, pro-choicers and pro-abortion institutions, namely, Marie Stopes abortion clinics, the Federal Ministry of Health,  Society for Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Nigeria (SOGON), Population Reference Bureau (PRB), Ministry of Health, Lagos, Prof. Innocent Ujah, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa were consulted in the making of the abortion directives. I have crossed paths with SOGON, Prof. Ujah and Prof. Atsenuwa at Conferences, and, I would tell you that they were vehemently campaigning for the legalization of abortion in those Conferences. SOGON is a notorious abortion NGO. The Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja is another dangerous abortion organization. Last week the Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire said that last 1% of the Nation’s health budget is allocated for abortificients and contraceptives to facilitate abortion. You can now see what I am talking about. A country in which her citizens have no access to basic primary health care is budgeting huge amount of money for abortion. The PRB is an international abortion agency that has been promoting population control in Africa through abortion. Marie Stopes is a notorious U.K abortion clinic with abortion clinics in Nigeria.

Acting on a petition written by a concerned body about the illegal abortion activities of Marie Stopes in Lagos State two years ago, the Police raided the Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Surulere, Lagos. During the raid, the Police confiscated the abortion files and abortion instruments such as Manual Vacuum Aspirators found in the clinic. On opening the abortion files the Police discovered to its chagrin that the clinic had aborted under-age girls below the age of 17 without the consent of their parents. The Police handcuffed one of the abortion doctors found on duty in the clinic on that day. The police later took him and the abortion files and Manual Vacuum Aspirators to their station. The funny aspect was that as the Police tried to arrest the clinic’s security guard who was manning the clinic’s gate at the material time, the poor man knelt down and swore to high heavens that he did not know that Marie Stopes performs abortion at the clinic. He was obviously lying to avert police arrest and detention. It is scandalous that the Lagos State government is consulting Marie Stopes, the largest global abortion provider in the English-speaking world.  According to the Marie Stopes website, Marie Stopes aborted over 700,000 women in 2018, meaning that it killed 700,000 Nigerian babies. Marie Stopes abortion clinics had been shut down in Niger Republic, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Togo, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. To fully understand what I am saying, just google “Marie Stopes abortion clinic”.

Now let’s examine the content of Sanwo-Olu’s abortion directives. The content of the directives is the singsong of the abortionists and pro-choicers in Nigeria over the years. They argue that legalizing abortion makes it “safe” because when abortions are legal, it become “safe” because women can seek out competent medical doctors to perform them unlike when abortions are illegal the abortions will be performed by quack medical doctors and medical personnel in “unsafe’ conditions and by doing make abortions “unsafe” for women. Therefore they argue further that abortion or termination of pregnancy should be made “safe” and “lawful” for those women. In summary, the Sanwo-Olu directives are aimed at making abortion and termination of pregnancy in Lagos State “safe” and “lawful” because according to abortionists  “unsafe” abortion leads to the death of women. This is false. All abortions have serious negative impacts on women. 17% of women undergoing the so-called “safe-abortion” or legal abortion procedure experience physical complications (such as abdominal bleedings or pelvic infections) after the abortion. The percentage is likely higher with long-term physical and psychological effects of abortion such as heavy bleeding (requiring blood transfusion), nausea, abdominal cramping, heart attack, perforation of the uterus, miscarriage of future pregnancies, death (it is estimated that 20% of maternal deaths result from abortion), guilt, anger, depression, suicidal thoughts, memory repression, eating disorders and sleep disorders are considered.

 The truth of the matter is that abortion is a medical procedure, and, as with any medical procedure, abortion is fraught with health risks, even if it carried out by the most competent medical practitioner and under the best medical conditions especially in Nigeria and other developing countries. Therefore prefixing or modifying abortion with “safe” is not only misleading but medically inaccurate. “Safe-abortion” is not only an oxymoron: it is a medical impossibility since every abortion is always unsafe for the unborn baby because it kills the unborn baby. The notion “unsafe-abortion” is also misleading because it implies that some abortions done by competent medical doctors are “safe” or without risks. This is a big lie. All abortions carry serious risks for the aborted woman regardless of the quality of medical care employed. The abortion kills the child. How can you say that abortion is “safe” when it claims the life of an unborn child? More importantly, abortion is a crime in Nigeria. Therefore you cannot modify abortion with the prefix “safe” in the same way you cannot modify stealing with the prefix “safe”. You cannot say “safe-stealing”

Consequently, the Lagos State Governor is humbly advised to rescind the abortion directives. The directives are coming on the heels of the recent upturning of ROE V WADE by the American Supreme Court. ROE is the famous abortion case law that hitherto had legalized abortion in America. If the U.S is rethinking and outlawing abortion, why should Lagos State be setting pace in legalizing abortion through the back door? I like this quotation recently sent to me. “Man’s laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral. Even if a sin is legalized, it’s still a sin in the eyes of God”  (Dallin H. Oaks). The killing of an unborn baby, whether euphemistically self-styled “safe-abortion” or “post-abortion care” or “termination of pregnancy” or “interruption of pregnancy” or  “women’s reproductive right” or “women’s health” is a crime punishable under our laws. We must stick to our own cultural and religious values in Nigeria. It is suicidal to import foreign practices and lifestyles which are alien to Nigeria and seek to impose them as directives simply because money has exchanged hands. The consensus reached at the various United Nations Conferences, is that the law passed in every developing county including Nigeria must reflect the diverse social, economic and environmental conditions of that country, with full respect for their religious, cultural backgrounds and philosophical convictions.  

Abortion is anthitectical to the religious, cultural and philosophical convictions of the Nigerian people and therefore cannot be imported into Nigeria. There is no Nigerian culture that endorses the killing of an unborn baby. Termination of pregnancy is murder simpliciter. The Bible condemns  abortion or termination of pregnancy.  In Islam, Quran 17: 31 stipulates: “slay not your children fearing a fall of poverty; we shall provide for them and for you, lo the slaying of them is greater sin”.  Every country is interested in protecting what it holds dear or its cherished values. The West can continue killing their children. But we love children in Nigeria.  Abortion is a complete break with the Nigerian cultural heritage.

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