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19.07.2005 Health

Amend abortion laws - MP

GNA

Accra, July 19, GNA - Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, NDC MP for Asawase, has called for an amendment of the abortion law to allow for women who qualify to seek safe abortion services at health centres to do so. He said the law on abortion, needs to be more explicit to meet the challenges of today to prevent the death of many innocent women. Alhaji Mubarak made this suggestion in a statement on the floor of the House on unsafe abortion, the hard-fact and the way forward. "For us as legislators and policy-makers we need to create an enabling environment to ensure eligible women have access to good quality abortion care, public health education and information about circumstances, which abortion is permitted by law."

The MP said in the developing countries women face a higher risk if they seek services from an untrained and unskilled abortionist but this can be reduced if they have access to safe, legal services as demonstrated in other developed countries.

"More than 30,000 African women die each year from unsafe and often illegal abortion, with tens of thousands more suffering serious injuries including infertility."

"In 2003 there were 1,356 cases of unsafe abortion at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) and 1,368 in 2004, which resulted in 29 per cent and 32 per cent respectively of maternal deaths.

"Thirty per cent of recorded maternal deaths at the Korle-Bu Hospital have been due to unsafe abortions and only God knows the true situation in other remote parts of Ghana where the unsafe abortion rate is higher."

Alhaji Mubarak said adolescents suffer disproportionately from unsafe abortion and that according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report incidence unsafe abortion is rising among unmarried adolescents especially where abortion is legally restricted and fertility-regulation services are inaccessible to young people

"The poor, socially disadvantaged and those living in remote areas, whether married or unmarried are most at risk and that all deaths and complications from unsafe abortion are preventable." He said of all causes of maternal mortality, unsafe abortion is the easiest to prevent.

Alhaji Mubarak said another inconsistencies in the law is that, whilst the age of sexual responsibility is 16 years, legal responsibility is at 14 years and marriage and voting responsibility is at 18 years, "then this means that girls under 14 years could not be counsel on issues of family planning."

"We are all witnesses to young girls below the age of 14 years getting pregnant and we need to harmonise these laws to meet the current facts of the situation."

He said there was the need to remove policies and programmes that create administrative and regulatory barriers and learn to uphold government's international commitment to make safe abortion available by law to uphold women's human rights. 19 July 05

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