Reuters reports that at least 10,000 pregnancies in northeastern Nigeria have been violently aborted, mostly without consent.
The Nigerian military has denied running a years-long illegal program to perform abortions on women and girls who have been victims of armed groups in the northwest, Reuters reported Wednesday.
“Since at least 2013, the Nigerian military has been operating a covert, systematic and illegal abortion program in the northeast of the country, terminating at least 10,000 pregnancies of women and girls.
It said many of the women and girls had been abducted and raped by armed groups, adding that those who refused abortions were at risk of being “beaten, held at gunpoint and drugged”.
In addition to testifying that 33 women and girls, 5 health care workers, and 9 security guards were involved in the alleged program, the report said military officials “described or listed thousands of abortion procedures.” Based on documents and hospital records.
According to Reuters, most abortions are performed without the woman’s consent, and some, without the woman’s prior knowledge, are marketed as abortion-inducing drugs or disguised as drugs to improve health or fight disease.
The agency was unable to identify who initiated the abortion program or who directed it in the military or government.
US State Department spokesman, Ned Price, said Wednesday that Washington is reviewing the report. “It was a shocking report… It’s a worrying report and that’s why we’re looking for more pieces of information,” he added.
Northeast Nigeria is at the heart of conflicts led by armed groups, including Boko Haram in 2009.
In the same matter, more than 40,000 people have died and nearly 2 million have been displaced from their homes in the long-running conflict that has spread across neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
In response, the Nigerian military called the report “an accumulation of insults to the people and culture of Nigeria, Nigerian military personnel have been raised, and trained to save lives.”
Religion plays a central role in Nigerian life, with Islam predominating in the north of the country and Christianity in the south.