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Abortion Rate in Nigeria

Nigeria has a low contraceptive prevalence, and a substantial number of women have had unintended pregnancies. Many of which are resolved through clandestine abortion, despite the country's law. currently, there has been an estimate of1.25 million induced abortions occurred in Nigeria in 2012, equivalent to a rate of 33 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–49. The estimated unintended pregnancy rate was 59% /1,000 women aged 15–49. 56%  of unintended pregnancies were resolved by abortion.Oct 27, 2015 guttmacher institute 

Pregnancy terminations is quite because they are performed by unskilled doctors ( World Health Organization (WHO) 2008). The first national study to examine the incidence of abortion in 1996 estimated 610, 000 abortions, or 25 per 1000 women aged 15-44years occured in Nigeria (Henshaw SK, et al, 1998). 

Years later, other studies reported that the rate of abortion remained constant from the year 1996, and by 2006, the prevalence increased to 760, 000 given the rise of population in Nigeria during that period (Sedgh G, et al, 2006). 

In Nigeria, the rate of abortion varied; In 2012, there were 27 abortions per 1,000 women between the age of 15 to 49 in the South West, and North Central zones; 31 per 1, 000 in the North West, and South East zones; and 44 per 1,000 in the North East and South South zones. The proportion of pregnancies ending in induced abortion was lowest in the South West (11%), and highest in the North East (16%) and South South (17%) (Guttmacher, 2015).
Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world  (WHO et al, 1990-2013). Although the government has acknowledged the problem and is committed to improve maternal health, evidence has proven the limitations of the progress, and unsafe abortion remains a major contributor to maternal morbidity and mortality. 

In 2002-2003, a survey was conducted in a community, about 25% of women who had an induced abortion reported having sever complications(Bankole A, et al. 2006). Other studies indicated that women who were admitted to hospitals for induced abortion complications had suffered a variety of complications including retained products of conception (50%), bleeding (34%), and fever (34%) ( Henshaw SK, et al, 2008). Two-thirds had more sever complications such as sepsis, pelvic infections and injury from instruments while some of the women died. 

Recent studies reported 137 maternal near-miss cases in a six-month period at eight large hospitals across the country ( Prada E, Biddlecom A, Singh S, 2011).  10% were due to unsafe abortion (Prada E, et al, 2015). Other studies estimated about 3,000 women died annually from unsafe abortion in the 1990, in Nigeria ( Henshaw SK, et al, 2008).  This estimates were based on those who died in healthcare facilities, and not those who died from unsafe abortion before reaching a facility. The death rate was likely higher. 


World Health Organization (WHO) Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Estimates of the Incidence of Unsafe Abortion and Associated Mortality in 2008. Geneva: WHO; 2011.

Henshaw SK, et al. The incidence of induced abortion in Nigeria. International Family Planning Perspectives. 1998;24(4):156–164.

Sedgh G, et al. Unwanted pregnancy and associated factors among Nigerian women. International Family Planning Perspectives. 2006;32(4):175–184.

WHO et al. Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2013. Estimates by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, The World Bank and the United Nations Population Division. Geneva: WHO; 2014.

Bankole A, et al. Unwanted Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in Nigeria: Causes and Consequences. New York: Guttmacher Institute; 2006.

 Prada E, Biddlecom A, Singh S. Induced abortion in Colombia: new estimates and change between 1989 and 2008. International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. 2011;37(3):114–124.

Henshaw SK, et al. Severity and cost of unsafe abortion complications treated in Nigerian hospitals. International Family Planning Perspectives. 2008;34(1):40–50.

 Prada E, et al. Maternal near-miss due to unsafe abortion and associated short-term health and socioeconomic consequences in Nigeria. African Journal of Reproductive Health. 2015;19(2):52–62.

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