According to the law in Nigeria, abortion is only permissible when at least two physicians deem that having the baby is a risk to the pregnant woman’s life. In most cases, this isn’t determined until the woman is pretty far gone into her pregnancy, a point at which the abortion is just as risky as the pregnancy itself.
In any situation apart from this, abortion is illegal. No legal abortion clinics exist in any part of the country, and abortion pills aren’t sold over the counter at pharmacies like in some countries.
Asides the law, being a country made up predominantly of Muslims and Christians, abortion is also a morality issue. It’s condemned strongly by both religions and even speaking of abortion is barely tolerated.
So in a country so against abortion, how does one woman have four?
First sexual encounter?
I was in SS2 there was one Mr Ajayi* who used to teach us Maths. He was posted to my school for NYSC. But he was just one of those teachers who really vibed with their students. He used to tutor a couple of us who struggled in Math after school. One day we were alone and one thing led to another.
How old were you?
I was 16.
Do you know what statutory rape is?
I understand what it means, at least now. I had never even heard of it when I was 16. I’m very open with this story and I’ve had people tell me I was preyed on and that I was raped. But that’s actually not even the case. It just wasn’t like that. I wanted him as much as he wanted me. And after I graduated we still used to see. it was like we were dating. He was even doing NYSC, so he was young, it wasn’t like he was this old man.
It was during my second diploma in UNILAG. It’s not like I failed the first one. My mum got sick and I had to be at home for some time. Anyway, it was during diploma, I think that was my first serious serious boyfriend. So he used to ‘pull out’ instead of using condoms. I missed my period, so I took a home test, then a blood test. At the hospital when the nurse told me the blood test was positive, I just started crying to her that I couldn’t keep it. At first, she tried to chase me out, but I refused to leave. I told her my parents will kill me. Then she told me she couldn’t do it but she knew someone who could.
Who did it?
It was one old woman. We did it in her house, she used to be a midwife. That day I really prepared my mind for the pain. I thought she was going to remove it through my vagina, but there was no need for that because I was just a few weeks gone. She gave me this injection and warned me never to come back to her. I bled for about two weeks plus after.
Did you go back to her?
Yes, she did the fourth one.
How old were you, when the first one happened?
I was 19.
Let’s talk about the third one.
It was my fourth year in school. I was about four months gone before I found out I was pregnant. I was seeing my period so there was no way to know. But my body had started doing somehow. My breasts were swollen, food was irritating me, something just told me to go to the hospital. That’s how I found out I was pregnant. The problem was that I was too far gone for the injection or the drug to work. I was even too far gone for D & C and nobody wanted to do it. I went to many places before I found someone. It was a nurse in one hospital, I had to go in the evening so that no one will find out. I knew the risks of doing it so late but I was prepared to face the consequences.
D & C (Dilation and Curettage) is a procedure in which the cervix is dilated and the tissue lining and/or contents of your uterus are removed.
How did the D & C go?
I was so scared. Like so so scared. I kept on thinking, this is it, God has finally caught me. I really considered having the baby, but I was even more scared about having the baby than doing the D & C, so I did it. The procedure wasn’t painful, but I was in a lot of pain after.
Maybe because there had been no complications in the past?
Maybe. I think so.
What else was different about this one?
The cost. It cost me 20k and I didn’t have the money. I was just really broke that period and I needed to do it urgently. So I went to meet the man who was responsible. He said he didn’t have money, so he only gave me 8k. I blocked his number after that. I sha found a way to raise the money and do it.
Did you ever try birth control?
Yes, I have. Before I got pregnant that third time I had gone to the hospital to get that injection that is supposed to protect you for three months. I had been taking it every three months for almost a year before I got pregnant so it’s not as if I’ve not tried. I’ve tried.
I don’t like them, the men I’ve been with don’t like them. Anytime I’ve done a procedure and I’m back to normal, I’ll use them for a while but after some time I’ll just stop.
You are open about this.
Yes, I am, to close friends at least. Because I want them to know they have options. I know a friend who had a child in year 2, it ruined her life. Till today she regrets it. Her parents abandoned her, the boy abandoned her, if you see how much she is suffering. Even the child too is suffering. So why bring that kind of suffering upon yourself and an innocent child when you can avoid it. It’s not like I’m shouting it from the rooftops. Apart from the third one, none of the other men ever knew. No one in my family can ever know. I know it’s wrong, I’ll be the first person to tell you that.
How do you feel about it being illegal?
That one is just for book. If you walk into a hospital, they’ll tell you they don’t do it but I promise someone inside that hospital does it. But many people don’t that. At least if it’s legal these doctors and nurses can come out with their chest to say they do it. If that happens you’ll stop hearing all these stories about women using hangars. I used to think that thing was a lie but people actually do it and it’s so dangerous.
You’d think I’d have shey? But if I say I do I’d be lying. So no, I have no regrets at least for myself. I was in school longer than my mates. Not necessarily because of this thing, there were other factors in play. But at least I finished I couldn’t have done that with a child or children lol. All their fathers were also not exactly responsible. Look at the one that gave me 8k, how far can 8k go in raising a child?
Would you do it again?
Depends on the circumstances. Right now at least I’m done with school, I’m working, I’m making small money. It’s not a lot but it’s enough to take care of myself. If I get pregnant for someone responsible I might have it.