BACKGROUND: Most of the information on abortion in Nigeria are based on information from women hospitalized for abortion complications. However a lot of abortions, especially those carried out by medical doctors do not cause enough complications to register in hospital statistics. This study is to explore the profile of women that obtain these relatively safe abortions, and to ascertain their reasons for opting for an abortion. METHODS: A cross sectional study was carried out in five clinics located in various parts of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, known to provide abortion services. Data on all the women that sought abortion in the clinics between January and March 2007 were collected by the attending doctors. RESULTS: A total of 793 women sought abortion in the clinics within the three months study period, a daily average of 1.76. The clients had an average age of 23.73 years (s.d 7.3), and a large proportion were not yet married (72.01%), had no children (67.97%), were still in school or learning a trade (66.08%), and were having their first termination of pregnancy (68.22%). Clients that identified themselves as widowed, divorced or separated made up 17.78% of the total. The commonest reasons cited for the decision to terminate the pregnancy were that the women were not yet married (63.43%), and that they were still students or learning a trade (60.15%). Few women gave contraceptive failure (3.91%) or the fact that they did not want any more children (3.66%) as a reason for the abortion. CONCLUSIONS: Abortion on demand is still very common in Nigeria in spite of legal restrictions. Amending the abortion laws would assist in resolving this paradox.
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