Health care providers’ attitudes towards termination of pregnancy: A qualitative study in Western Nigeria


Background: Despite restrictive abortion law in Nigeria, women still seek abortion services. Restrictive policies on abortion make it difficult for safe and legal abortion to be obtained. Hence, abortion is provided on clandestine basis in some private health facilities, and where the cost of such service is prohibitory, women resort to unsafe methods, including visiting quacks and self medication, resulting in severe complications including death. In Nigeria, little is known about the personal and professional attitudes of individuals who are currently providing abortion services. Exploring the factors which determine health care providers’ involvement in or disengagement from abortion services may facilitate improvement in the planning and provision of future services. Methods: Data were collected using qualitative research methods. Thirty-six in-depth interviews and one focus group discussion were conducted between January 2010 and July 2010 with health care providers who were involved in a range of abortion services provision in theWestern Nigeria. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis approach. Results: Complex patterns of service delivery were prevalent throughout many of the health care facilities. Fragmented levels of service provision operated in order to accommodate health care providers’ willingness to be involved in different aspects of abortion provision. Closely linked with this was the urgent need expressed by many providers for liberalization of abortion laws inNigeriain order to create a supportive environment for both clients and providers. Almost all providers were concerned about the numerous difficulties women faced in seeking an abortion and their general quality of care. An overriding concern was poor pre and post abortion counselling including contraceptive counselling and provision. Conclusion: This is the first known qualitative study undertaken in Nigeria exploring providers’ attitudes towards abortion and it adds to the body of information addressing the barriers to safe abortion services. In order to provide an enabling environment and sustain a pool of abortion service providers, a drastic change in Nigerian abortion laws is mandatory, after which policies that both attract prospective abortion service providers and retain existing ones can be developed.

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Lamina, M. (2013) Health care providers’ attitudes towards termination of pregnancy: A qualitative study in Western Nigeria. Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 3, 400-410. doi: 10.4236/ojog.2013.34074.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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