Abortion is illegal in Nigeria except to save a woman’s life. It is also common, and most procedures are performed under unsafe, clandestine conditions. In 1996, an estimated 610,000 abortions occurred (25 per 1,000 women of childbearing age), of which 142,000 resulted in complications severe enough to require hospitalization. The number of abortions is estimated to have risen to 760,000 in 2006.1 Unsafe abortions are a major reason Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate—1,100 deaths per 100,000 live births—is one the world’s highest.2 According to conservative estimates, more than 3,000 women die annually in Nigeria as a result of unsafe abortion.3
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