Nigerian Laws on Abortion

GROUNDS ON WHICH ABORTION IS PERMITTED IN NIGERIA:

Save the woman's life Yes
Preserve physical health Yes*
Preserve mental health Yes*
Rape or incest No
Foetal impairment No
Economic/social reasons No
Available on request No

Additional Requirements for Abortion Clinics In Nigeria:

Two physicians are required to certify that the pregnancy poses a serious threat to the life of the woman.

*Nigeria has two abortion laws: one for the northern states and one for the southern states.  Both laws specifically allow abortions to be performed to save the life of the woman. In addition, in the southern states, abortions can be performed for physical and mental health reasons.

THE LAWS

Abortion in Nigeria is governed by two different laws. One for the northern states and the other for the southern states.

In the predominantly Muslim states of Northern Nigeria, the Penal Code, Law No. 18 of 1959, is in effect. Under the Penal Code, an abortion may be legally performed only to save the life of the pregnant woman. Except for this purpose, a person who voluntarily causes a woman with child to miscarry is subject to up to fourteen years’ imprisonment and/or payment of a fine. A woman who causes her own miscarriage is subject to the same penalty. Harsher penalties are applied if the woman dies as a result of the miscarriage 

While in the southern part of the country, which is largely Christian in religion, the Criminal Code of 1916 is in effect. Section 297 provides that “a person is not criminally responsible for performing in good faith and with reasonable care and skill a surgical operation...upon an unborn child for the preservation of the mother’s life if the performance of the operation is reasonable, having regard to the patient’s state at the time and all the circumstances of the case”. Any person who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman, unlawfully administers to her any noxious thing or uses any other means is subject to fourteen years’ imprisonment.  A woman who undertakes the same act with respect to herself or consents to it is subject to seven years’ imprisonment. Any person who supplies anything knowing that it is intended to be unlawfully used to procure a miscarriage is subject to three years’ imprisonment.

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