Complications from unsafe abortions contribute substantially to high maternal mortality in Ghana, which was estimated at 310 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017.
This is according to the Director of Medical Affairs of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr. Ali Samba.
Speaking at a roundtable discussion organised by DKT International Ghana in collaboration with DKT WomanCare in Accra on the use of Manual Vacuum Aspirators (MVA) for safe abortions in Ghana, Dr. Samba noted that more than half of pregnancies in Ghana are unintended.
He bemoaned that most women in a bid to terminate these unwanted pregnancies resort to unsafe methods due to stigma.
“According to the Ghana Statistical Service, almost 1 in 6 (15%) of women in reproductive age in Ghana have had an unsafe abortion (GSS, 2016), with almost 1/3 of women in rural areas who go through abortion using illegal and nonmedical methods (GMHS, 2017).”
“Between 4.7% – 13.2% of maternal deaths recorded each year can be attributed to unsafe abortion. 30 women die for every 100,000 unsafe abortions in developed regions. The number rises to 220 deaths per 100,000 unsafe abortions in developing regions, and 520 deaths per 100,000 unsafe abortions in sub-Saharan Africa,” he added.
He believes women should be free to decide whether to keep their pregnancies or not, adding that society should be more receptive to whatever decisions they make.
Dr. Samba also advocated for the provision of safe and legal abortions for all.
“Researchers have found that women are 14 times more likely to die during or after childbirth than from complications of safe abortion. Ghana’s abortion provisions
According to the provisions of Act 29, Criminal Offenses Act, 1960, Sections 58 & 67, abortions are legal in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormality or disease, or “defilement of a female imbecile,” or if they are performed to protect physical or mental health; they must be provided by registered and trained health personnel in an approved facility.
Despite efforts by the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service to expand postabortion care and safe abortion services, several factors impede the use of these services. These include stigmatization of abortion, poor knowledge of abortion's legal status among the public and medical professionals, misperceptions about the safety of legal abortion, and inadequate access to services.
Many women in Ghana seek illegal abortions, which vary widely in terms of safety.
Complications from unsafe abortions contribute substantially to Ghana's high maternal mortality, which was estimated at 310 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017.
International Safe Abortion Day
28th September is the annual day of action in support of the right to safe abortion.
It has been celebrated since 1990 in Latin America, and since 2011 around the world.
Recent years have seen hundreds of activities in dozens of countries across all global regions.
National and world leaders have begun to make statements in support of the day, and a growing number of media outlets report national and international events and write articles on the theme.