Afr J Reprod Health. 2012 Mar;16(1):69-74

Nigerian lawyers and reproductive health rights: a survey of knowledge, practices and opinions on law reforms among the bar and bench in north eastern Nigeria

Mairiga AG, Geidam AD, Bako B, Ibrahim A
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri, Nigeria

The objective of this study was to determine the knowledge and attitudes of practicing Nigerian lawyers towards issues relating to reproductive health and reproductive rights, and their opinions about abortion law reform. It was a population- based study which consisted of interviews with practicing lawyers in north-east Nigeria. The results showed poor knowledge of issues related to reproductive health and reproductive rights among the lawyers. However, the majority (56.9%) disagreed that a woman can practice family planning without the consent of her husband. The prevalence of contraceptive use among the lawyers was low and attitude to abortion law not satisfactory. Only few lawyers (22.4%) supported safe abortion in cases of failed contraception. We conclude that reproductive health advocates must target legal professionals with a view to educating them on issues relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Lawyers in Nigeria should undergo capacity building in reproductive health laws and be encouraged to specialize in reproductive rights protection as obtainable in other developed countries.