Abortion among Non-School Youths in Nigeria

Igwe Aja-Nwachuku, Abia State University

Based on 452 interviews, this paper aims to explain the high incidence of abortion among young women in southeastern Nigeria, focusing particularly on the experiences of girls who have terminated their school careers. Two questions are explored. First, what are the circumstances that produce so many unwanted pregnancies among adolescents and unmarried young adults? Second, why are so many young women willing to undergo abortions, when the consequences for their own lives are potentially so tragic? Factors analyzed include: the continued value of procreation, the importance of marriage, the centrality of sexuality in the construction of 'modern' identities, and the ambivalence young people feel about their sexual behavior. Each of these elements intersects to produce a context where young women are simultaneously inclined or pressured to participate in sexual relationships, inhibited from negotiating contraception, but extremely motivated to terminate premarital pregnancies.

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Presented in Session 135: Abortion I