Niger suspends activity of British charity over abortions

Niger has ordered the closure of two centres run by British charity Marie Stopes International on grounds it was illegally performing abortions, the health minister told AFP on Tuesday.

"We have decided to close this charity on grounds of a 2006 law which bans abortions," said Health Minister Idi Illiassou.

"Our inquiries have shown that this non-governmental organisation is enabling the voluntary interruption of pregnancy" but the partnership agreement with Niger "does not authorise this," he said.

The charity, which operates in 37 countries and has been working in Niger since 2014, offers contraception and advice on managing unplanned pregnancies, including safe abortion services, its website says.

"The voluntary interruption of pregnancy should never be considered as a method of contraception, in any case," reads the closure order relating to the two centres run by Marie Stopes in Niamey, the capital, and in Maradi, the country's economic hub.

Niger allows abortion only in cases where the pregnancy endangers the mother's life.

The charity was not immediately available for a response on the issue.

According to Illiassou, the British charity was terminating pregnancies through a method of "manual vacuum aspiration for a fee of $52", saying the government would take legal steps against those involved.

A source at the health ministry told AFP that police were currently searching for the charity's "Nigerien accomplices" who had fled.

According to the charity's website, it began assessment visits in 2013 "at the request of the Nigerian Ministry of Health" and began delivering contraceptive services a year later. Its first centre opened in Niamey in 2016.

Figures relating to Marie Stopes' work in Niger say 12 472 unintended pregnancies were prevented in 2017, and 4 748 unsafe abortions were prevented.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
11% - 1899 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
49% - 8728 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
37% - 6473 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
4% - 633 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.