By a vote of 13-1, the legislature in the small state of Imo, Nigeria rejected the Reproductive Rights Bill last week, marking a pro-life victory in a state whose rich heritage, culture and religious traditions welcome life and respect the lives of unborn children.
It was a decision that the national Nigerian newspaper This Day described as a “victory of the superior Imo cultural values over the new global Western Cultural Revolution” and “yet another triumph of reason… a triumph of democracy and the popular will.”
While the Reproductive Rights Bill claimed to deal with women’s reproductive health, it would have effectively legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Imo, a pro-life state, has rejected several attempts to legalize abortion, with the most recent being in 2006.
Large crowds of citizens ranging from school children to religious sisters to civil servants marched to the Imo State House of Assembly and protested the Bill last Monday morning.
Although the Public Hearing was scheduled for noon, all seats in the hearing room were filled by 7:00 a.m. Thousands of demonstrators overflowed outside the building, holding signs reading, “Children are our values,” “Reproductive right is abortion,” and “Imo mothers love children.”
Advocates of the Reproductive Rights Bill had defended it by saying that it never mentioned abortion and was aimed solely at promoting the health of Imo women. However, euphemisms within the Bill included phrases such as “control of fertility,” “timing, number, and spacing of their children,” and “choice of methods of fertility control and family planning,” all of which have been consistently interpreted in countries where abortion is legal as giving women the right to both abortion and contraceptives.
In addition, the people of Imo became concerned by the fact that one of the Bill’s prominent sponsors was the U.S.-based International Project Assistance Services (IPAS), a major abortion lobbying group that has been quietly promoting and selling handheld abortion devices and drugs for years.
The only support for the Imo abortion Bill at the Public Hearing came from the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), who claimed that the Bill would liberate women from oppression and dissemination. Yet, after the hearing, some of the women with the NCWS confessed to being hired to voice support for the Bill.
This pro-life victory in Nigeria occurred within days of the United States House of Representatives voting to fund the newly-established Office of Global Women’s Issues. Pro-lifers are worried that given the track record of the Obama Administration on pro-life issues, the new women's office will simply work to promote abortion in overseas areas such as Imo.