Nigeria: Catholic Knights Take to Street to Protest Against Abortion

Lagos, Nigeria — The Knights of St Mulumba in Nigeria, a Roman Catholic advocacy group, has embarked on nationwide street protests against the legalisation of abortion. The knights say the move to legalise abortion in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation with nearly 150 million people, is indicative of a serious lack of concern for human life in the country.

"God hates abortion and every true Christian knows it and is expected to support this campaign," said Dr Festus Inabulele, spokesperson of the Enugu zone of the order in eastern Nigeria, which held a rally on 25 April. "Every true religion condemns and abhors abortion. Unfortunately, instead of helping to eradicate this wicked practice, a number of organizations are actually urging people to make it a habit."

The group said it opted for street protests to remind Nigerians of the social and spiritual dangers posed by abortion, which it noted have continued to increase at an "alarming rate". This increase, it said, is due to the inability of the authorities and leaders to take the decisive measures required to bring the practice under control.

Nigeria's existing policy permits abortion on the grounds of saving the life of a woman, or to preserve her physical or mental health. Two physicians are required to certify that the pregnancy poses a serious threat to the life of the woman.

Both the penal code in Nigeria's north, where some states follow Sharia, or Islamic law, and the criminal code in the south, prescribe jail terms of up to 14 years for violators of the law.

Nigeria's restrictive abortion laws are major contributors to the country's high maternal mortality rate, argues a report of the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria discussed at a recent meeting. The group, which favours legal abortion, says that about 11 percent of maternal deaths in the country are attributed to unsafe abortions.

The Catholic organization, however, says it is determined to overwhelm the abortion protagonists with massive protests and it has urged other religious and social groups to join it in the anti-abortion campaign.

To assist women with unwanted pregnancies, Inabulele said the Catholic Church has opened centres where they can deliver their children instead of "slaughtering" them.

During the Enugu rally, the knights carried placards reading: "Abortion is a sin against God and crime against humanity", "The unborn has right to live", "Abortion is a dirty word and deed", "Doctors, say no to abortion", "Abortion is a betrayal of child by its mother" and "the unwanted child could be a president".