By Ezra Odogu
The Lagos government has suspended the implementation of its new policy guidelines on the provision of safe abortions for residents of the state.
The state government had, in June, unveiled the new guidelines, but the rules had elicited varied reactions, with some persons expressing reservations over issues on the legality of abortion procedures.
However, according to a statement issued on Thursday by Akin Abayomi, commissioner for health, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, directed the suspension of the guidelines to allow for more time for sensitisation following the interest generated over the matter.
“Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has directed the suspension of the “State Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy for Legal Indications” issued by the Directorate of Family Health and Nutrition in the Ministry of Health,” the statement reads.
“Among the several factors that contribute to maternal mortality, illegal abortions and high risk pregnancies leading to unresolvable complications rank high.
“The Lagos State Ministry of Health is seeking different methods to eliminate illegal abortions and ensure that a mother does not die at childbirth, thereby disrupting an entire family unit.
“In this regard, it became imperative to examine, in keeping with existing National and State laws and policies, if there are indeed justifications and medical reasons to offer abortion to a woman whose life is threatened by a pregnancy.
“Following this, the guideline was developed over four years through painstaking work by experts in Law and in Obstetrics and Gynaecology with a focus on creating the opportunity to reduce maternal mortality and in line with existing laws.
“These guidelines have generated immense public interest which has necessitated escalating it to Mr Governor, who has advised further sensitization of the public and key stakeholders to ensure a clearer understanding of the objectives of the guidelines.
“To this end, we are suspending the implementation of these guidelines in the meantime for the Executive Council to deliberate on this matter and ensure adequate public sensitization and stakeholder engagement to reach a consensus required for a successful guideline development.
“The Lagos State Ministry of Health remains committed to planning , devising and implementing policies that promote qualitative, affordable, and equitable healthcare services to the citizenry.”