In a dusty remote village of Eastern Nigeria, where people trek for kilometres to reach the nearest clinic and wait long hours to see a doctor; there is no electricity or pipe borne water and people bathe in the same stream they fetch their drinking water. Here, even a syringe is scarce commodity and nurses sterilize them in boiling water to reuse several times before discarding. Here is where Ipas, an international organization affiliated with International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), an abortion advocacy group, is effectively pushing crude handheld devices called Ipas MVA plus into the rough hands of desperate African women. These syringe-like devices, complete with Ipas trade mark and logos, are simple, hand operated and can efficiently suck the soft bodies of unborn babies in early stage of pregnancy out of their mother’s womb, tearing them apart.
An Ipas spokeswoman claimed that the device is primarily for “post- abortion care” (PAC). What she did not add, though, is that the device is also used for “Menstrual regulation” (MR), a covert term for abortion. In 2003, the Population Research Institute (PRI), a pro-life group that monitors abortions around the world visited the Mbale clinic tucked away in backwaters of Western Kenya and discovered that the British abortion business known as Marie Stopes International had performed abortions illegally in Kenya using these devices. According to LifeNews.com, PRI cited an unnamed Marie Stopes official who “admitted that these hand-held suction devices were being used to perform abortions up to — and even past — 16 week’s gestation, and that the abortions were being labelled ‘PAC’ or ‘MR.’” They also discovered that the tactic of using the device for abortions under the guise of PAC is commonly employed by Marie Stopes in all of its 21 clinics in Kenya.
Furthermore, many African countries have already welcomed this device. In 2011, medical experts in Nigeria identified this device as facilitating cost-effective and safe abortion procedures for Nigerians. It is also commonly used in PAC at South African public hospitals.
It is no secret that Ipas has long held that the best, perhaps the only help women need is access to ‘safe abortion’. They say it is the “most urgent” health-care need in developing nations, hence they have produced these devices to meet that need. An Ipas spokeswoman puts it this way, “Because the device is low-cost and does not require electricity, for example, its use can help make post-abortion care and safe legal abortion available.”
Yet, these instruments have never been certified safe for the women who use them. The first version made in 1980 was never fully tested by the US food and drug administration (FDA) which is responsible for regulation of medical devices.
It is worth noting how Ipas ideas of African women’s real needs differ from real life. Many women in sub-Saharan Africa spend two thirds of their time and resources searching for basic food, water and shelter. Many pregnant young African women resort to abortions when men who cannot afford to marry them abscond. Even among married Nigerian women, financial difficulties are chief drivers for abortion and young girls in Universities, who are too poor to pay for their tuition and accommodation, accept relationship with older man (married) who pay them for sex
“I think what women need most in this country is to be helped to stand on their own feet financially,” says Dr Obi Ifediora, a female gynaecologist living in Enugu. “Young African girls are more then ever dependent on the men and thus open to exploitation and abuse.”
“Interest groups that purport to speak for women often do not have women’s interests at heart,” say Ms Glendon, professor of law at Harvard University. Making money, it seems, is the primary motive of Ipas promotion. Profits for its Ipas MVA plus sales go to the North Carolina-base.
“Ipas is doing more harm than the good and their instruments could help in spreading HIV,” says Dr Philip Njamenze of the African Anti Abortion Coalition (AAAC), in a letter to G8 in 2007. He said that the device will makes “backstreet abortions” easier. A teenage girl in a college dormitory could easily go from room to room with this big syringe helping out desperate girls who had mistakenly gotten themselves pregnant; and since there is no HIV testing, spread infection as well.
The grisly possibilities of this device is endless, and could make horror pictures similar to those of U.S doctor, Kermit Grosnell’s murdered infants trending now on twitter, Facebook and other social networks that have so shocked Africans look like child play.
Chinwuba Iyizoba is an Engineer. He is also the author of “After the Juju Man”