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The Right Of The Unborn Child

Recently, the Lagos State Government, led by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was reported to have unveiled a policy document taggedLagos State Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy for Legal Indications.”

Consequent to the above, there have been many concerns about the legality or otherwise of the said policy, which many have described as unjust, outrageous, and repugnant to the provisions of the extant criminal law. It must be noted that the policy if implemented, would mean that Lagosians are now free to terminate their unborn babies.

First, it must be stated categorically that the directives by the governor run contrary to both the Criminal Laws of Lagos State and the Criminal Code Act of Nigeria. SEE sections 145, 146, 147, and 201 of the Criminal Code of Lagos State 2011(as amended) and sections 228, 229, and 230 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes abortion. Although abortion is considered a crime in Nigeria, there are some exceptions. For instance, by virtue of section 20 of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Law of IMO STATE 2012, abortion is allowed in cases of incest and Rape. Similarly, Section 232 of the Penal Code (which applies to the Northern States), which is impari material (similar) to Section 201 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015, appears to allow abortion in cases where such abortion is done to save a life. However, it must be stated that the recent provision did not, by any stretch of the imagination, legalize abortion for all intent and purposes. Thus, it is erroneous for the abortionist school of thought to rely on such provisions as grounds to commit a crime and violate the rights of unborn babies.

Furthermore, it must be noted that the commission of an abortion violates the unborn child’s right to life. SEE sections 4, and 17 of the Child Rights Act 2003. Thus, section 17 of the Child Rights Act 2003 states that a child can bring an action for damages against a person for harm or injury caused to the child willfully, recklessly, negligently, or through neglect before, during, or after the birth of that child. SEE also section 16(1) of the Lagos State Child’s Law 2015.

Unless the aforementioned laws are amended to permit the killing of unborn babies, any such act remains criminal and punishable under our laws. Additionally, such acts will amount to the violation of the right of the unborn child. Abortion remains a crime and should not be smuggled into our society by mere executive directives.

The importance of human life cannot be overemphasized. Every human life must be respected and protected, especially the most vulnerable ones in the womb, even from conception. Thus,  such an attempt to terminate the life of an unborn child is tantamount to murder and should be treated as a capital offense.

Therefore, it is strongly recommended that the extant law be reviewed to exclude possible ways to achieve abortion on demand. Still, it must be founded on protecting and preserving an unborn child’s legitimate right to life.

HRF paid a courtesy visit to the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender on June 19, 2023, in Surulere Lagos.

L-R: Executive Director, Bidemi Olumide; Program Officer & Legal Associate, Toyin Sanusi; Vice-President, Bukola Seun-Arije; and President, Victor Fakunle.

HRF-Lagos Team – (L-R): Founder & President, Victor Fakunle, Legal Associates, J.T. Awe, Joseph Ajah, Seun Olayiwola, Toyin Sanusi, and Head – HRF Legal Unit, Suyi Adebayo.

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