16.05.2005 General News

39% admissions at KATH relates to abortion - AWLA

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Accra, May 16, GNA - The African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) disclosed on Monday that abortion constitute about 39 per cent of admissions at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) Gynaecology Ward.

Mrs Edna Kuma, Executive Director of AWLA told a forum on: "Unsafe Abortion in Ghana," that 80 per cent of the patients were married women, whose occupation cut across the professional spectrum. She said traders constitute about 44 per cent of the national figures, unemployed, 20 per cent, seamstresses, 13 per cent and others, 23 per cent.

The forum organized by AWLA in collaboration with the African Alliance for Women's Reproductive Health and Rights aimed at equipping health professionals, police personnel, media practitioners, religious and traditional leaders with basic information on abortion.

Mrs Kuma said a survey conducted by AWLA have revealed high abortion practices among the youth between the ages 15 to 24. Speaking on the Social Dynamics of Abortion in Ghana, the AWLA Executive Director said abortion is generally reprehensible within the Ghanaian society, whether legal or illegal. Those who perform abortion are scorned, frowned upon, and families dissuade their sons from marrying girls who are known to have committed an abortion before, irrespective of the time period in their lives. She said because of the religious and social attitude as well as fears of arrest, most women and medical practitioners hide to perform abortion.

Citing reasons why people undertake abortion, Mrs Kuma said nature of the sexual relationship from which the pregnancy was borne, refusal of responsibility by the man; financial constraints, educational hiccups and cultural practices may influence a woman to undertake abortion. Statistics, she said rates abortion related death as the second leading cause of death among women, Mrs Kuma therefore, appealed to all stakeholders to join the crusade against illegal abortion, reduce the stigmatisations of women who undertake abortion even if legal. Mrs Kuma, therefore, launched a book: "The Legal and Policy Framework on Abortion in Ghana, A Handbook for Practitioners," authored by Nana Oye Lithur, African Region Coordinator of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

The twenty-page handbook defined the legal understanding of abortion, liabilities under the law, qualifications for the performance of abortion, institutions recognized to perform the termination, exceptions to the laws, implementation of abortion laws, and problems associated with abortion laws.

The book also looked at the international and regional framework, the reproductive rights, global consensus on abortion, and the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the international medical community view on abortion.

Nana Oye urged the Ghana Health Service to put in place structures to enable healthcare facilities throughout the country to provide legal safe abortion services to reduce maternal mortality due to unsafe abortion.

"Ghana by so doing, would save the lives of women, who die through unsafe abortion," Nana Oye stated.

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