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Punishment For Abortion In Nigeria

Punishment for abortion in Nigeria – Abortion: Definition, Consequences, Punishment.

The law recognizes   the sanctity of   life. The recognition it gifts life is a manifestation of its   aching awareness that life is an invaluable gift; a gift no one can   on   their own create.

The law demands that this gift should not be taken unlawfully. When it is so taken, the law punishes it, and depending on how this gift is taken, the law apportions punishment.

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Perhaps, it is no coincidence that it is when life is   snuffed out that the law`s   ultimate punishment-the sentence of death – is most appropriate, most fitting.

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Punishment For Abortion In Nigeria
Punishment For Abortion – Photo Source: https://www.christianheadlines.com

The recognition the law extends to life, unarguably its most important recognition, is gratefully not reserved only   for life outside the womb. Wondrously, it   finds extension to unborn life.

Abortion defined 

The 7th   Edition of the Oxford Advanced Learner `s Dictionary, International Student `s Edition, at page 3, defines “Abortion” thus:

“The   deliberate   ending of a pregnancy at an early stage; medical operation to  end a pregnancy at an early stage.”

The Deluxe Ninth Edition of the Black`s Law Dictionary, at page 6   defines “Abortion   ” as:

An   artificially induced termination of a pregnancy for the purpose of destroying an embryo as a fetus.”

The Black`s Law Dictionary goes further. Still at page 6, it gives flesh to different kinds of abortions:

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Forced abortion: An abortion performed without the mother`s consent;

Induced abortion: An abortion purposely and artificially caused either by the mother herself or by a third party;

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Late-term abortion: An abortion performed during the latter stages of pregnancy ,usually after the middle of the second trimester;

Partial-birth abortion: An abortion   in which a fetus is partly   extruded   from the womb and then destroyed.

Therapeutic abortion: An abortion carried out to preserve the life or health of the mother.

The New International Webster`s Comprehensive Dictionary of the English Language   (Deluxe Encyclopedic Edition) at page   82 defines “Abortion  ”  thus:

The expulsion of a fetus prematurely .”

Wikipedia has this to say on abortion:

“Abortion  is the ending of pregnancy due to removing  an embryo or fetus before it can survive outside the uterus. An abortion that occurs spontaneously is known as a miscarriage. When deliberate steps are taken to end a pregnancy, it is called an induced abortion or less frequently as an “induced miscarriage.”

The Criminal Code Act criminalizes   abortion

Recognizing the threat unborn children face from the cyclone of abortion which appeals to so many people, especially young people, who surmise that at the zenith of youth  they can ill-afford  the inconvenience of shouldering parental responsibility, the law criminalizes and penalizes abortion.

Section 328 of the Criminal Code Act provides thus:

“Any person who,when a woman is about to be delivered of a child ,prevents the child from being born alive by any act or omission of such a nature that, if the child had been born alive and had then died, he would be deemed to have unlawfully killed the child ,is guilty of a felony  and liable to imprisonment for life.

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The Penal Code Act criminalizes offences against unborn children.

The Penal Code Act seems to more exhaustive on the many protection the law offers unborn children.

Section 232 of the Penal Code Act provides thus:

“Whoever voluntarily causes a woman with child to miscarry,shall if the miscarriage be not caused in good faith for the purpose of saving the life of the woman ,be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years or with fine or with both.

Section 233 of the Penal Code Act provides thus:

“Whoever with the intent to cause the miscarriage of a woman whether with child  or not does an act which causes the death of that woman, shall be punished-

a. With imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years and shall also be liable to fine; and

b. If the act is done without the consent of the woman, with imprisonment for life or for any less term and shall also be liable to fine.”

Section 234 of the Penal Code Act provides thus:

“Whoever uses force to a woman and thereby   unintentionally causes her to miscarry shall be punished  –

a. With imprisonment for a term which may extend  to three years or with fine or with both; and

b. If the offender knew  that the woman was with child, he shall be punished with imprisonment  for a term which may extend to five years or with fine or with both.”

Section 235 of the Evidence Act provides thus:

“Whoever  before the birth of a child does an act  with the intention  of thereby preventing that child from being born alive  or causing it to die  after its birth and does by such act prevent  that child from being born  alive or cause it to die after its birth  shall, if the act be not caused in good faith  for the purpose of saving the life of the mother ,be punished with imprisonment  for a term which may extend  to fourteen years or with fine or with both.”

Section 236 of the Act provides thus:

“Whoever does an act in such circumstances that, if he thereby caused death  he would be guilty  of culpable homicide ,and does by that act cause the death of a quick unborn child ,shall be punished with imprisonment for life or for any less term and shall also be liable  to fine.

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Abortion is a matter of two lives and multiple rights.

Abortion has always been a testy   topic. It has always brought into   tense confrontation the themes of  life and death, mortality and medicine, unborn  life and  born life.

This debate is especially vociferous in the western world where the notions of rights and responsibilities, freedom and   morality square up to battle daily. Religion has also been an unwavering force in this debate about life.

The many pro-life groups   who hoist the torch of the unborn   lives   argue ceaselessly that life begins from the moment of conception and remains   sacred and inviolable until natural death.

They uphold the rights of unborn children to be born and to live. To them, abortion is a synonym for murder. In a country like the United States of America, the pro -life groups which have in their ranks the catholic  church, has constant cause to clash with the pro-choice groups.

The pro-choice groups uphold the freedom and power of choice over the dignity and sanctity of unborn life. They argue that women should be allowed to choose whether   to have a child or not.

In their often procrustean polemics they seek to blur the sanctity of   one life in their attempt to uphold the frivolity of another.  It is noteworthy that they are able to call upon some mightily influential people and even nations.

Some countries legally allow abortion , others proscribe abortion unless when medicine allows it, for example when the life of a woman who is with child is in danger. In matters of rape or incest, the law accommodates abortion.

However, it is important to remember that abortion is a debate between two rights: the right of the unborn to birth and life and the rights of a woman to choose whether to have a child or not.

It is essentially a mammoth struggle between two unequally yoked parties with   the unborn largely outmatched and gagged.

However, the law has a history of acting as an equalizer, of protecting the weak from the strong in its attempt to entrench an equal society.

So seen through the prism of life and legality, abortion should remain outlawed except when medicine and morality allows.


a. The law in Nigeria largely forbids abortion

b. The law in Nigeria allows abortion for health reasons or when  pregnancy results from  a rape or incest

c. Unborn life is largely outmuscled in the abortion

d. Abortion should remain a constant debate so that the rights of women and   unborn children can be protected.

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a. That as a Nigerian citizen under Sections 25,26 or 27 of the 1999 Constitution, your fundamental rights are guaranteed under Sections 33 to 46 of the same Constitution.

b. That the Constitution guarantees you equal rights, obligations, opportunities   and easy accessibility to court under Section 17.

c. That com   works with a team of lawyers to inform   you  of your rights, obligations and opportunities under the law.




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Kenechukwu Obiezu

Kenechukwu Obiezu is a Legal Practitioner and a Content Developer at InfoGuideNIgeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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