4 Dangers of Unsafe Abortion

By Dr. Okechukwu Amako, MBBS (Ibadan)
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An abortion is unsafe when a pregnancy is terminated by someone who is poorly trained or who does not possess the right skills (a quack) to do it; also, if a pregnancy is terminated in a place not equipped to the minimum medical standard it is an unsafe abortion. Note that even if a certified doctor does the abortion, but in a substandard health facility, it is unsafe abortion.

Abortion is illegal in many countries except where the mother's life is at stake, and legal in some other countries meaning a woman with an unwanted or unintended pregnancy can walk into a certified abortion clinic to terminate the pregnancy. Whether it is legal or illegal, if any pregnancy is terminated by a quack or in a place lacking the necessary facilities, it is called an unsafe abortion and can lead to life-threatening consequences such as:

1. Infection

The woman is at a very high risk of getting infected during an unsafe abortion because the instruments being used are obviously not sterilised or have been used previously on another woman. The person doing the procedure and his assistance may not employ aseptic measures (didn't wash their hands with antiseptic agents, their gowns are not sterile, being a source of infection). Also, retention of some pregnancy tissue after the abortion can be a focus for infection which can later spread to other systems (sepsis).

2. Heavy bleeding

This can occur during or after the procedure. Bleeding is usually due to incomplete removal of the pregnancy tissue from the womb or injury to the wall of the uterus or vagina by instruments such as needles, sticks or broken glass used by quacks.

3. Infertility

Because this pregnancy is being terminated by a quack or in a substandard health facility, there is a chance a very sharp object can be used as an instrument and which could pierce and perforate the womb or injure the cervix. Perforation of the womb means it may not be able to support the implantation of the forming baby if not properly treated. When the cervix is injured, it will be difficult for sperm cells to travel through and this also causes infertility.

4. Death

This occurs commonly when the abortion is performed in an advanced pregnancy, during the 2nd trimester (between 3 and 6 months) and is usually from excessive bleeding which the substandard health facility is not equipped to manage and the quacks are not trained and skilled to anticipate and proactively stop.

Unsafe abortion is common among teenage girls who engage in unprotected sexual activities that result in an unwanted pregnancy. With their education at stake, the fear of rejection by their parents and stigma from the society, they have no choice but to terminate the pregnancy and easily fall into the hands of quacks who are willing to charge a small amount to abort the pregnancy.

Therefore, as a mother or father, you should be closer to your daughter. Read about sexual education and openly discuss it with her as she goes through puberty and adolescence. Abstinence is the surest way to prevent unwanted pregnancy; but if she has become sexually active and can't abstain, even if you hit her head on the wall, encourage her to always insist on her boyfriend using effective barrier contraception such as a condom; and if she mistakenly does it without the guy using condom, encourage her to get an emergency contraception such as postinor 2 within a day of the unprotected sex.

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Published Monday, March 20th 2017

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