By Rebecca Oas, Ph.D.
Dr. Talemoh Dah of Soteria-Afrique Rural in Nigeria was speaking at a session at Women Deliver titled, “Service Delivery Innovations and Scale Up to Increase Access to Safe Abortion.” His segment was on late abortion.
During the question-and-answer session afterwards, an audience member asked him, “How late is late?”
“How late is late? It depends on the definition of abortion in the country you’re considering. In Ethiopia, you can carry out an abortion up to 28 weeks. Other countries it’s 24 weeks. But, speaking as an obstetrician, and a gynecologist, there is – abortion can never be late. But as the gestational age increases, all the issues begin to come. Issues of fetal survival, social issues like if you expel a fetus that is well-formed, and some people who do not support abortion get to take pictures, it could cause a national scandal. And that’s where privacy, fetal disposal, all of those things, you have to take care of it. But it can never be late to expel any pregnancy. So there’s nothing like, it’s too late, or anything. But, try to work within country constraints; in some countries, you could expel the fetus but make sure it is not alive. Some people take care of fetal survival before expulsions, you could talk about partial birth abortion, but it can never be late to expel any pregnancy.”
Later, when the panelists were asked to give their “take-home messages,” Dr. Dah said:
“Medical induction is a very easy entry point when you want to introduce late abortions at any certain point.”
His fellow panelists, including one whose talk was a summary of the World Health Organization’s technical and policy guidance on “Safe Abortion,” did not dispute anything he said.
Editor’s note. This appeared May 29, 2013 at www.turtlebayandbeyond.org.