Faith Entities “not consulted” in Move to Legalize Abortion in Nigerian State: Archbishop

Cover page of the policy document, tagged, "Lagos State Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy for Legal Indications". Credit: Courtesy Photo

Faith-based leaders and Catholics were not consulted in the move by the State of Lagos in Nigeria to legalize abortion through what is being described as the “safe termination of pregnancy for legal indications", Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins of Lagos Archdiocese has said.

On June 29, Lagos State, through the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, unveiled a 40-page policy document, tagged, "Lagos State Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy for Legal Indications" that is allegedly meant to justify some cases of abortion. 

In a Sunday, July 3 press statement, which the Director of Social Communications of Lagos Archdiocese, issued, Archbishop Adewale calls on the Nigerian State government to stop the implementation of the guidelines.

“The issue of abortion touches very much on ethical and religious sensibilities and religious bodies were not consulted, certainly the millions of Catholics who have always maintained their strong opposition to legalization of abortion in any guise were not consulted,” the Nigerian Archbishop says in the statement that Fr. Anthony Godonu issued.

He adds, “The Catholic Church and all ethically-minded people oppose all forms of abortion procedures whose direct purpose is to terminate the life of a baby in the womb.” 


“The unborn child has the right to live and be protected and not to be killed by the fiat of an unjust law,” Archbishop Adewale further says, and continues, “We believe strongly that every human life must be respected and protected, especially the most vulnerable ones in the womb from the moment of their conception.”

Not even an expectant mother has the right to eliminate the life of the fruit of her womb, the 63-year-old Nigerian Archbishop says.

He explains, “The baby in the womb is a person that is distinct from the mother even though he is in the mother's womb and so not even the mother has the right to kill him, talk less of the government purporting to give legal backing for their murder.”

“There is nothing like an unwanted child because every child is a gift from God that should be nurtured and allowed to grow in fulfillment of their purpose in life,” the Local Ordinary of Lagos Archdiocese further says.

There can be no justification for abortion, he emphasizes, and explains, “Any attempt to terminate the life of the unborn child is tantamount to murder and should be treated as a capital offence.”

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The Catholic Church leader seeks to know why the State of Lagos “seemed anxious to legalize abortion, at a time when even the United States of America and other more advanced countries are reviewing their positions on legalization of abortion as seen in the recent judgement of the Supreme Court of the United States of America on the matter.”

“We need to continue to explore ways of providing support for those women who find themselves in difficulty as a result of their pregnancy rather than thinking of aborting a child who is innocent of the difficulty that the mother may be going through,” the Archbishop of Lagos says.

Focus should be “on proper enlightenment on human sexuality and collaboration in order to support women who fall pregnant without being ready for the pregnancy,” he says.

In the July 3 statement, Archbishop Adewale calls on the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu to “quickly use his good office to call the Ministry of Health to order and stop the implementation of the guidelines on the so-called safe termination of pregnancies.”

“The ministry did not consult widely enough as to find the best approach to safeguarding the lives of pregnant women which the guidelines were supposed to protect,” the Nigerian Archbishop who started his Episcopal Ministry as Bishop of Nigeria’s Abeokuta Diocese in January 1998 says.


According to the July 3 statement that the Director of Social Communications of Lagos Archdiocese issued, the move by the Nigerian State to legalize the procurement of abortion through legislative guidelines has “attracted wide condemnation by pro-life groups and the millions of Catholics in the state.”

“They have vowed to resist the move,” Fr. Godonu says, and adds in reference to the pro-life groups, “They warn that the argument by the State Ministry of Health for giving guidelines for the termination of pregnancy on so-called health grounds was nothing but a means of legalizing abortion by the back door and it is not only unjustifiable but also unacceptable.”

The Nigerian Catholic Priest adds, “The guidelines are nothing but a way of creating room for indiscriminate procurement of abortion.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.