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Backstreet Abortions Plague Cameroon

Health & Well Being

BAMENDA, CAMEROON (GPI) – Lina, 27, says that when she was 23, a friend came to her with the news she was pregnant. That friend’s boyfriend had deserted her when she told him.

Lina, who declined to give her full name for privacy reasons, proposed that they talk to her friend’s mother, but her friend said this wasn’t an option because her mother was Christian and would throw her out of the house for getting pregnant before marriage. Lina says they decided their only option was for her friend to get an abortion out of town where no one would recognize them and no official records would be kept.

She says that they consulted their peers on where they could get a quick and cheap abortion and were referred to a “doctor.” But Lina says that when they arrived at the address they were given, it was not a hospital or a clinic and the doctor was not a licensed professional. 

“Even though we realized it wasn’t a proper clinic, my friend was still determined to go through with the termination,” she says. “She had no choice.”

Lina says the “doctor” prescribed black pills, which he said would “do the job.”  

“My friend took the pills as prescribed,” Lina says. “I got a call from my friend some days later, and she told me she was dying. She had been bleeding for two days.”

She says she raced to meet her friend, who was sitting on a pail because she was bleeding excessively.

“A pad or sanitary towel could not help the situation, so she sat on a pail to contain the bleeding,” Lina says.

She says the same doctor prescribed more medication, and the bleeding ceased.  

“But when my friend went to a clinic for medical attention, it was discovered that she had another baby growing in her,” she says. “Apparently she was pregnant [with] twins and [the] doctor only succeeded in terminating one.”

Lina says that her friend underwent surgery in the hospital to abort the other baby. But she says that after this experience, she will never advise any young girl to opt for an abortion, much less a backstreet abortion.

“I could have lost a friend,” she says. “We thought we were securing her future, but she could have lost it all. Women should only get pregnant when they are ready for babies.”

Rachel, 20, who declined to give her full name for privacy reasons, says she underwent a backstreet abortion three years ago. She says she needed to have an abortion because a baby would’ve disrupted her education and the father of the child refused any responsibility – minus the $10 USD he gave her to pay for the abortion.

She says the “doctor” performing the abortion wasn’t a licensed professional either and, like Lina and her friend, she was too desperate to question his competence.

“The doctor asked me to undress and lie on a table,” she says. “After an examination, he inserted a metal object into my vagina. He didn’t give me any aesthetic – he just began removing things from my body. After the procedure, he gave me some tablets to cause the remaining fetal parts to eventually discharge.”

She says the procedure was painful.

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