Ghana in 2017 recorded about 200,000 abortions, an equivalent to a national abortion rate of 26.8 per 1000 women between 15 and 49 years, a study by the Guttmacher Institute has revealed.
Guttmacher Institute is a leading research and policy organisation committed to advancing sexual reproductive health and rights in the United States of America.
The study was conducted through Abortion Incidence Complications Methodology (AICM) approach and estimates 71 per cent of the abortion cases were illegal and unsafe, despite the nations’ relatively liberal abortion law and efforts to expand access to safe abortion services.
The CEO of Global Media Foundation (GloMeF), Raphael Godlove Ahenu a human rights and media advocacy non-governmental organisation, highlighted the outcome of the study at a forum to mark this year’s International Safe Abortion Day held in Sunyani.
The International Safe Abortion Day, formerly known as the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion falls on September 28 and is celebrated globally to campaign for the decriminalization of abortion in Latin America, the Caribbean, and other parts of the world.
Mr Ahneu said complications from unsafe abortions contributed substantially to maternal morbidity and mortality in the country.
“The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Ghana remains high, estimated at 310 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017. An estimated 23 per cent of all pregnancies in Ghana in 2017 ended in abortion”, he added.
Mr Ahenu called for the repeal of laws and policies that restricted the right to safe abortion and post-abortion care services in the country.
“This would greatly ensure that post-abortion care is readily available in an emergency, especially at the community levels”, he said.
Mr Ahenu noted in spite of efforts by the government to incorporate safe abortion into policy, training, and guidelines, illegal and unsafe abortions continued to occur in the country clandestinely.
“Complications from unsafe abortions contribute substantially to maternal morbidity and mortality in Ghana”, he indicated.
But, Mr Ahenu added Ghana, though was a signatory to the Maputo Protocol, it was yet to fully implement policies like medical abortion services, even though the Protocol made abortion a human right for women in Africa.
He said complications associated with unsafe abortions had serious public health implications for the nation as they increase maternal mortality and morbidity, and advocated a policy guideline to promote and make safe abortion services readily available at all health facilities to reduce maternal deaths.
Mr. Ahenu called for a national discourse towards reducing unsafe abortion, and highlighted the importance of enhancing knowledge and access to Reproductive Health Services, including contraceptives, safe abortion services, and post-abortion care.
He entreated the GHS to expand access to safe and legal abortion as well as post-abortion care services in the country by increasing the number of trained providers and approved facilities, to greatly reduce complications and deaths from unsafe abortions.
“GloMeF under it’s Safe Abortion for All Project is helping to increase access to post-abortion care and safe abortion services to decrease the negative impacts of unsafe abortion by improving access to legal abortion services by 2030”, Mr. Ahenu said.