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STILL IN SUPPORT OF ABORTION
I was too young in 1979 to understand the position of my late uncle Hon. (Dr) Obatayo Ogunkoya on the floor of the house of representative during the second republic that abortion should be legalised. However, the pathetic story of how my cousin lost the joy and happiness in his home and my experience as a Medical Scientist /Sonographer made me to think that moral, religion and belief apart, the law on abortion should be revisited by our law makers.
An abortion is when a pregnancy is ended so that it does not result to the birth of a child. Nigeria has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. Abortion is permitted only to save the life of a woman, and person who violate the laws are subject to lengthy jail terms up to seven years for a woman obtaining an abortion for other reasons and fourteen years for any provider convicted of performing an illegal procedure.
Religious wise, a child is not supposed to be killed before birth. Proverbs 6:17 says that God hates those who shed innocent blood while Deuteronomy 27:25 says “cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person, and all the people shall say amen”. Others say, every child once conceived has a right to be born and a child by reason of his physical and mental immaturity needs special protection and safeguards, including appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth.
In as much as I support all the arguments mentioned above, I wish to dissent with the following reasons and instances. The position of the law that stipulates that abortion is illegal unless the pregnancy is a threat to the woman should be modified to accommodate the threat to the baby also.
The marriage and the home of my cousin, Kayode were full of joy and happiness until his wife got pregnant for the second child of the family. They visited a diagnostic centre to know the position and the sex of their expected baby, but what they got was the beginning of the doom in the happy wedlock. The doctor told them after ultrasound scan that the expected baby may not be normal. Immediately, the husband opted to get rid of such deformed child but the doctor was quick to advise him that the only way out was abortion which was illegal in the country. The wife reminded the husband the book of John 1:3-4 that “all things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life and the life was the light of men”.
The story has not been the same since the birth of the child who was confirmed to have spina bifida. A child with spina bifida has a defect of the formation of the lower spine. This results in a failure of closure of the bones of the spine with exposure of the spinal cord that can result in damage to the nerves controlling the lower part of the body. This causes weakness and paralysis of the legs, and sometimes bowel and bladder problems. Subjects are also more likely to have hydrocephalus (excess fluid surrounding the brain).
Two years after the baby was born, he could not sit, talk and eat on his own. If i could read the mind of the child, he would probably be saying what Job said in the book of Job 3:16 that “Oh (why) was i not a miscarriage, hidden and put away as infants who never see light!” (Amp). All the life savings of his parents have been spent to save the life of the first baby boy of the family. They have visited many hospitals and even lost count of the number of CT scans and laboratory investigations they did. My cousin wished the pregnancy did not come at all because the wife could not cope with the stress, frustration of keeping the baby away from the glare of the public and rejection by the society. The wife’s blood pressure (BP) has remained constantly high and recently she was discovered to have developed diabetes. She is currently in the hospital with the prayer that God will deliver her from the claws of death. Is this not a pathetic story indeed? When the problem could be avoided, if the laws of the land had empowered the doctor to save the situation from claiming the joy, happiness, money and the lovely wife of my dearest cousin.
As a sonographer, I have seen women passing through severe pains, agony, caesarean sections and even death for an unproductive pregnancy. Why should a woman be allowed to carry a pregnancy to term when the fetus (expected baby) was discovered early that it was anencephaly that is “a baby without head “. It is a known fact that such baby will die either before or shortly after birth. If we indeed love our women we should prevent them from suffering or laying their lives down for an unproductive process like these and others too many to mention, hence there is a need to advocate for the termination of such pregnancies early enough.
A visit to one of the homes for the children with physical challenge brought tears to my eyes. I saw children that were abandoned by their parents. Some cannot help themselves to do anything without aid.
Lastly, with this position of mine, those who will report me to my General Overseer, Pastor E.A.Adeboye should tell him that my stand is that our women should not be subjected to avoidable stress, pains and ridicule because of our belief that all pregnancy should be born. The book of Proverb 10:22 says The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it (kjv).
The law makers should revisit the laws on abortion to accommodate this view. The government should develop our medical facilities to ease the early diagnosis or detention of these types of cases by ultrasound scan, CT, MRI, advanced laboratory procedures.
ADEKOYA ABIMBOLA JULIUS.
This article is dedicated to my uncle, Late Hon (Dr) Obatayo Ogunkoya, the founder of Ogunkoya Clinic, member, House of Representative (1979-1983). Rest in Peace Oba.