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Abortion May Cause Damages, Official Warns 

By Loretha Ubangoh* — Joan (not real name) is a student of the University of Buea. A couple of months ago, she was shocked that she had missed her periods. Then she remembered that she had had unprotected sex with her boyfriend. She was pregnant. For fear of being ostracised, coupled with humiliation from her friends, abortion was the next thing that leapt to her mind. She asked for advice from her friends and was taken to a clinic on the suburbs of the University campus.

Getting money for the abortion was not an easy task but Joan managed to get it her own way. She went for an abortion on the appointed day with the doctor. In an hour’s time, Joan was free of the unwanted pregnancy. Her news was then spread by her friends who stained her character and her religious beliefs. She still regrets that act.

Vanessa, also a student, joined the university and started cohabiting with her boyfriend. Close as they were, abstinence and even the use of condom were difficult things to practise. This led to her getting pregnant twice and aborting the same number of times. The first time she did it was due to peer pressure and ignorance. The second time, it was her boyfriend who insisted that she aborts since he was not ready for a child.

Joan and Vanessa are just two of several girls who terminate unwanted pregnancies in Buea.
A clinical nurse working in collaboration with a doctor in an obscure abortion clinic downtown Molyko in Buea says that both students and married women do carry out abortion and the rate is high. He said the least price for an abortion is FCFA 10.000 but it varies from the ages of the pregnancies.

He also spoke on the methods they use which are; the injection method in which an injection is administered to remove the pregnancy through the flow of blood. There is also the suction vacuum aspiration method. With this, a machine is inserted into the girl’s vagina in order to suck out the pregnancy. Lastly, during the late stages of pregnancy or a complicated one, a D&C (Dilation and sharp curettage) is conducted for the abortion. The abortionist said he rarely gives injections because not everyone’s body adapts to injections, so their effect is not guaranteed.

He said he prefers to use the machine method because, to him, it’s easier and very simple to use. “It does not pain because an injection is given to ease the pain after which you take drugs and that’s just all,” said the abortionist. According to him, abortion has no risks involved, no after effect and is a very simple thing to do, no stress. Abortion is the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a foetus or embryo prior to viability.

Abortion can be classified as therapeutic abortion, criminal abortion, and induced abortion.
While it may solve an immediate problem, abortion has long term side effects and could sometimes be deadly. According to the Chief of Unit of Maternity at the Buea Regional Hospital Annex, abortion has many disadvantages. “It causes so many damages to a woman, like infertility, and you could have infections during the process, and loss of blood. You could even die during or after the process if mishandled,” said the Chief of Unit.

“Also, psychologically, in future, you might start regretting if you do not have a child,” she said.
She said abortion could be crude which may lead to the removal of the uterus. She, however, said abortion has its only advantage in the case where there is a malformed baby in the womb, a bad pregnancy whereby the child will be born with some disabilities or there will be some complications during delivery.

“In all of these cases abortion is the major option,” she said, adding that statistics from the Buea Regional Hospital shows that abortion rate has dropped from 62 in 2011 to 34 in 2012.
Meanwhile, abortion is illegal according to section 337 of the Cameroon Penal Code. The punishment for abortion is imprisonment from fifteen days to one year or with fine from FCFA 5000 to FCFA 200.000 or with both imprisonment and fine.

Also, those practising the profession of medicine or an allied profession, the courts are empowered under section 337(4) of the Penal Code to order closure of the professional premises and to impose a ban on occupation in application of sections 34 and 36 of the Penal Code, if they are caught performing abortion. The only abortion legalised is therapeutic abortion which is carried out to save the life of the pregnant woman or the life of the baby. It is also legal in the case of rape.
*UB Journalism Student on Internship

First published in The Post print edition no 01374

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