LAGOS LAWYER FAULTS NEW ABORTION BILL

A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Sonnie Ekwowusi has faulted the new abortion Bill. The Public Hearing on the new abortion Bill comes up at the Senate on Monday March 2, 2015. Euphemistically coined Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill (VAPP), the new abortion Bill, seeks to allow Nigerian girls and women unimpeded access to abortion. The import of the VAPP Bill is that abortion is a woman’s choice. Women are entitled to have access to all safe, effective means of controlling their family size, including abortion. A woman has a right to make decisions regarding her own body. Denying women access to abortion is a form of gender discrimination. Safe abortions services protect women’s right to health.

IPAS, an international abortion lobby group, together with the DFID, UNFPA and others, has been mounting pressure on the Senate to pass the VAPP Bill so that President Goodluck Jonathan should assent to it before the swearing in of a new President. The VAPP Bill has already passed through the House of Representatives.

It will be recalled that Imo State Governor Owelle Rochas, passed an abortion law entitled, Imo State Law of Nigeria Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) law No 12, about four years ago but was forced by the citizens of Imo State to get the Imo State House of Assembly to repeal it.

Mr. Ekwowusi describes the new abortion Bill as a big set-back for the empowerment of Nigerian women. According to Mr. Ekwowusi, what Nigerian women need to stay alive is authentic educational, political, economic, social, cultural and spiritual empowerment not abortion empowerment. Abortion is not like food or essential medicine that every woman needs to consume in order to stay alive; in fact abortion is the greatest violence  against women, he said. More importantly, abortion is illegal in Nigeria. It is unconstitutional. Besides, the VAPP Bill is ill-timed. It is coming at a time Nigerians are preparing for elections. Therefore, Mr. Ekwowusi urged the Jonathan government not to succumb to the pressure being mounted by IPAS, DFID, UNFPA and other international agencies to get abortion legalized in Nigeria especially at this election period.

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