National

Lagos Govt releases guidelines on abortion

Pregnant women

The Lagos State Ministry of Health has unveiled a policy document on safe termination of pregnancy in the State.

The Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr Olusegun Ogboye, stated this while presenting the 40-page policy document tagged “Lagos State Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy for Legal Indications.”

The document sets out guidelines for safe termination of pregnancy within the ambit of the criminal law of Lagos State.

He explained that therapeutic pregnancy termination is permissible under Lagos State law.

According to Ogboye, the policy document was borne out of the need to provide evidence-based data and information for public and private health workers with the requisite skills and training necessary to provide safe terminations to reduce preventable deaths.

The Lagos State Ministry of Health statement quoted Ogboye as saying, “In 2011, the Lagos State House of Assembly updated the criminal code, providing for abortion to save the life and protect the physical health of the woman. While physical health is covered under the Lagos legal framework, services conforming to the law have not been available in the Lagos State health sector.

“This document provides information on relevant laws applicable in Lagos State while providing standards and best practices with regards to legal indications, pre and post-procedure care, methods and monitoring. I must state here that this document has undergone wide consultation with relevant technical stakeholders within the legal and health service context in the State.”

Ogboye explained that the process of developing the guidelines commenced in 2018 with the Safe Engage project led by the Lagos Ministry of Health and hosted by the Society for Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Nigeria, with support from the Population Reference Bureau.

He pointed out that the advocacy messages on the Safe Engage project focused on two immediate outcomes, including ensuring that safe abortion services were available within legal indications in Lagos.

It includes domesticating the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act and supporting women to terminate a pregnancy caused by rape or incest.

He said, “To guide the implementation, one of the follow-up recommendations of the project was the adaptation of the National Standards and Guidelines for Safe Termination of Pregnancy within Legal Indications within the Lagos State context. The Federal Ministry of Health had developed and disseminated the national guidelines on safe termination of pregnancy which highlights the compendium of conditions and circumstances under which termination of pregnancy could be instituted.

“The guideline was intended to build the capacity of health professionals to identify pregnancies for which legal termination could be instituted. Marie Stopes International in Nigeria, in collaboration with the Population Reference Bureau, proposed to support the State government to adapt the document.”

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