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Abortion care in Ghana: the rise of unsafe treatment


Abortion is the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy,most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion in Ghana is illegal.  Abortions are seen as criminal offense, one can face up to five years in jail if found guilty both woman who did the act, doctor and any other who came in as assistance.

The law in Ghana allows abortion only under a few conditions such as incest pregnancy, Impregnation of ‘Female Indoit’, Rape Victim, or when health care workers determine that the baby, if born, will not be able to have a meaningful life or if the pregnancy threatens the health or life of the mother, should she continue with the pregnancy .

The laws of Ghana do not allow a healthy mother with a healthy pregnancy to get an abortion with the sole reasons of not wanting the pregnancy. The explicit nature of the law on abortion allows many citizen to draw conclusion that abortion is illegal in Ghana. The law criminalizes abortion and leads to a situation where women seek unsafe abortion, leading to the increased of unwarranted maternal deaths and morbidity.

According to a 2007 survey, there are at least 15 abortions for every 1000 women of reproductive age (15 – 44). However, Since abortion is heavily stigmatized in Ghana, actual incidence of the procedure is very likely underpopulated in face-to-face interviews.

While recent reliable national abortion figures for Ghana are not available, the world health organisation estimates that there are 28 procedures per 1000 women each year in western Africa. The true incidence in Ghana likely approaches this rate.

Social and economic characteristics that may predict which women are likely to obtain an abortion include never having married being in their 20s. Having no children coming from wealthy household in an urban area.

An abortion, Mr Raphel God love Agent has said that records from Ghana health services(GHS) indicate that a total of 53,114 abortions were carried in 2017 in all government hospitals out of which 13,918 of such cases were unsafe abortion as against 15,325 cases in 2016.

Our socio-cultural set up also pushes women to seek unsafe abortion. Every tribe and traditional area in Ghana frowns on issues of abortion and will condemn it, no matter the reason for it, Christianity and Islam also frown on abortions. These faiths also do not promote the much needed sex education and education on the contraceptive methods which can empower their believers to prevent unwanted and unintended pregnancies.

When these pregnancies occur, the women involve secretly seek abortion from the ‘Black market’ where the unsafe ones mostly happen. These abortions result in complications and because of disgrace, the woman and her family may be exposed to, should they be found out, she and the family may not report such complications to the hospital, maybe in the late hours which the harm had already been caused.

The world health organisation deem unsafe abortions one of the easiest preventable causes of maternal morbidity and mortality. As the saying goes “prevention is better than cure”. Preventing unintended pregnancy should be a priority for all nations.

Educating young people especially women, regarding their reproductive health should be incorporated in the schools’ curricula. More than one death in 10 pregnancy related deaths in Ghana are the result of unsafe abortions.

In addition,13% of Ghanaian women who have has an abortion experience complications, resulting from unsafe procedures and fewer than half of them received the needed follow – up care. These statistics are all remarkable because Ghana is one of the few African countries where abortions are mostly done under fairly broads grounds, and abortion performed by a validity professional under proper conditions is an extremely safe procedure.


Written by: Rhoda Mensah 

The author is a young girl studying Media Communication. Rhoda has an interest in issues that centre on Health, Education and Young people.

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