THE DETERMINANTS OF INDUCED ABORTION AMONG UNDERGRADUATES STUDENTS IN NIGERIA (Case study of University of Benin). A RESEARCH PROJECT MATERIAL ON PHARMACY
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Abortion is the ending of pregnancy by removing a fetus or embryo before it can survive outside the uterus. An abortion which occurs spontaneously is also known as a miscarriage. An abortion may be caused purposely and is then called an induced abortion, or less frequently, “induced miscarriage”. The word abortion is often used to mean only induced abortions. When allowed by local law, induced abortion in the developed world is one of the safest procedures in medicine. Modern methods use medication or surgery for abortions (Fagbemi, 2001).
Since ancient times, induced abortions have been done using herbal medicines, sharp tools, with force, or through other traditional methods. Abortion laws and cultural or religious views of abortions are different around the world. In some areas induced abortion is legal only in specific cases such as rape, problems with the fetus, poverty, risk to a woman’s health, or incest. In many places there is much debate over the moral, ethical, and legal issues of abortion. Those who oppose abortion often maintain that an embryo or fetus is a human with a right to life and may compare abortion to murder. Those who favor the legality of abortion often hold that a woman has a right to make decisions about her own body (George, 2004).
Approximately 205 million pregnancies occur each year worldwide. Over a third are unintended and about a fifth end in induced abortion. Most abortions result from unintended pregnancies. A pregnancy can be intentionally aborted in several ways. The manner selected often depends upon the gestational age of the embryo or fetus, which increases in size as the pregnancy progresses. Specific procedures may also be selected due to legality, regional availability, and doctor or a women’s personal preference.
Reasons for procuring induced abortions are typically characterized as either therapeutic or elective. An abortion is medically referred to as a therapeutic abortion when it is performed to save the life of the pregnant woman; prevent harm to the woman’s physical or mental health; terminate a pregnancy where indications are that the child will have a significantly increased chance of premature morbidity or mortality or be otherwise disabled; or to selectively reduce the number of fetuses to lessen health risks associated with multiple pregnancy. An abortion is referred to as an elective or voluntary abortion when it is performed at the request of the woman for non-medical reasons (Adepoju, 1999).