Since the terrorist group Boko Haram began their onslaught in 2009, several thousand have been killed and more than 2,000 women and girls abducted.
Since April this year, the Nigerian Armed Forces, with assistance from Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, have forced Boko Haram to be on the defensive. This has enabled the Nigerian government to reclaim several territories previously under the control of Boko Haram. These renewed military efforts have led to the rescue of over 678 women and girls.
After their rescue, the UNFPA’s Executive Director, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin disclosed that about 214 of the girls are at various stages of pregnancy while many others are still undergoing screening for various diseases and infections. This disclosure, for the first time aroused a national debate as to the status of abortion in Nigeria.
Several pro-life groups accused UNFPA of pushing for abortion and sterilisation for the rescued girls and called rather for the abortion of the thought. (Group Faults UNFPA Over Abortion, Sterilisation On Boko Haram Victims, Rescued girls: UNFPA has abortion agenda, PHD alleges, Don’t abort Boko Haram babies, group pleads.
In a similar vein, the Chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) Health Committee, Most Rev. Anselm Umoren urged that the children should not be aborted and that the Church was as ready as always to help in the healing, rehabilitation and resettlement of the victims. He assured that the church will assist the women in the children’s upbringing after the delivery.
Also, the Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos West, Church of Nigeria(Anglican Communion), Rt. Rev james Olusola Odedeji, faulted the plan to carry out abortions on the girls. He reiterated that the church condemns abortion of nay kind and for any reason.
After the backlash from several quarters, the UNFPA through its director, Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin, swiftly responded that the agency does not promote abortion but encourages reproductive health and supports the provision of modern family planning services. He also explained that UNFPA offers psycho-social counselling to internally displaced persons, including women and girls, but certainly not abortion.
This is clearly a lie; realising that the term abortion is repugnant to the cultural and religious views of many Nigerians. The United Nations and its agencies which include UNFPA always use euphemisms like “sexual and reproductive health” and “modern family planning services” in their documents, but it is an accepted fact that this includes abortion.
On page 36 of In its state of the world population 2014, UNFPA, concurring with a statement from the WHO, complained that millions of adolescents and young people lack access to sexual and reproductive health information and services, and to complement this knowledge, young people require a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services, including for the prevention of adolescent pregnancy, ………….safe abortion care. It is worth noting that Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin wrote the foreword of this document.
One of the resolutions of the Bali Global Youth Forum Declaration 2012, which was organised by UNFPA was that “governments must provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services that include safe and legal abortion…………..’’.
Also it is on record that the 48th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) which took place in April of this year, for the first time in history ended without an outcome document. Because the African group objected to the multiple references in the propose text to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and reproductive rights (a term used to promote abortion). Prof Osotimehin who participated was said to have been disappointed.
So who is Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin fooling?
It is clear that anyone calling for the girls to abort their children doesn’t have the girls’ best interest in mind. Since rather than focus on how best to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into the society, by offering them free maternity homes and rehabilitation centres where they can give birth to their babies safely and decide later on how to take care of them, they intend to make these girls pass through the excruciating trauma of abortion.
Apart from the trauma, Dr. Awotoya Waheed a member of Doctor’s Health Initiative (DHI), disclosed that girls who have abortion at an early stage are at high risk of having breast and cervical cancer later in life, and Jerry Okwuosa added that, “it is scientifically proven that a girl that aborts her first pregnancy before 18, her chances of getting breast and cervical cancer increase by 260 percent.”
Abortion is illegal in Nigeria, so publicly stating that the girls should have an abortion is an indirect call for the abortion law to be repealed. As such, it is clear that several interests groups (western countries, the UN and its agencies) want to exploit this situation to legalise abortion in Nigeria. This is an unholy tactic that is not unknown to pro-lifers. It was used in the United States in Roe v. Wade 1973, and many more countries. This same tactic was also tried this year in Paraguay and Uruguay. So we have to be alert.
I realise that these girls’ pregnancy was as a result of rape and violence, which excludes any form of consent or choice on their part. It is very painful no doubt. But this pain should not blind us to a medically established fact that these women are carrying human beings, who are the weakest and most innocent of the parties involved and who also have a birth right to be born. The wrong has been done, but we must realise that two wrongs can’t make a right and that violence cannot be erased with more violence.
The value and dignity of life should not be downplayed or defined by age or circumstances under which one was conceived. In fact it is trite knowledge that these external factors do not define the future of a child. These children can grow up and be of help to the society at large.
As such we should all realise that both the girls and their unborn children are victims of Boko Haram barbarism and they both need access to all necessary medical efforts and also the support of the state and society. It therefore follows that resulting to abortion makes us no different from members of Boko haram sect, who derive joy in harming innocent, harmless and weak citizens.
We must resolutely state that never, never does killing a person resolve a problem, and abortion in this case is no different.