Religion and culture cause of high abortion-related deaths – lawyer
9/13/2012 11:00:47 AM -
A Lawyer with the Medico-Legal Unit of the Ghana Health Service says Ghana's cultural and religious beliefs were racking up abortion-related deaths by pushing women desperately in need to turn to quacks instead of professionals to undertake abortion procedure.
A MultiTV cum Tiger Eye documentary has put illegal and improper abortion and the cost to women at the front burner by exposing a quack doctor who opportunistically rapes his patients before terminating their pregnancies.
Discussing the subject on pm:EXPRESS on MultiTV, Dr. Maurice Ankrah said, 'it is our culture and religion that is pushing people to go seek quacks. It is not because they don't have the information, they do but [they feel that] 'I'm a church leader, I am a choir leader, I cannot be seen to be pregnant because I am not married''.
Abortion is legal in Ghana but only in cases of rape, defilement, incest or when the continuation of the pregnancy would be detrimental to the woman's health or when it is detected that the baby would develop abnormalities if born.
The Director of Family Health Division of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Gloria Quansah-Asare revealed that most government hospitals undertake the procedure but added it comes with certain restrictions.
'It does not mean that if you walk into any health center you would have an abortion done. There are options and there are trained counselors who will take you through the options. An example is where a married couple who are both working wants an abortion. [Sometimes] after the education it becomes obvious that they don't have any reason or that it is very flimsy. They go back and have the child and return to thank the officer'.
She said such a couple 'had gone to a quack, the quack would be ready to perform it because of his money. So it is better we educate the public that abortion is legal and if you need it, go to the right center for it'.
According to Dr. Quansah-Asare, ladies are counseled properly before and after the procedure to lessen or prevent the attendant guilt and psychological trauma that often characterizes the procedure.
She encouraged women to seek abortion care from licensed centers, instead of resorting quacks, to avoid complications that could lead to death and other life-time consequences, insisting that the society must itself recognize quacks are a danger and must be flushed out.
She also encouraged the Church to join family health education efforts instead of judging those who find themselves in unplanned situations and need help.
'Abortion care is everybody's business. When a church member falls into this problem, you don't throw the person away, you help the person out of it', she said.
Faustina Fynn Nyame, Country Director of Marie Stopes International joined calls for more education and said it would be detrimental for Ghana to approach the subject of abortion care from the religious or cultural point of view.
She said the doctor seen in the abortion video put out by Tiger Eye and MultiTV, Dr. Joshua Drah, must be sentenced to life imprisonment to deter other perverts from inflicting such horrors on women.
According to her, Marie Stopes undertakes abortion procedure under strict professional conditions and called on women with such needs to visit their centers.