Nigeria has two abortion laws: one for the mainly Muslim northern states and one for the southern states. Both laws specifically allow abortions to be performed to save the life of the woman.

In the southern states, the Rex v Bourne decision is applied, which allows abortions to be performed for physical and mental health reasons.

A 1982 attempt to liberalize abortion law in Nigeria was defeated. The bill was sponsored by the Society of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians of Nigeria and presented to the National Assembly.

It expanded grounds for abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill was strongly opposed by religious leaders and the Nigerian National Council of Women.

Abortion is reported to be widely available in the private sector.

Reports and surveys, principally from university teaching hospitals indicate that illegal abortions are widespread.