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Health News of Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Source: GNA

Global Day of access to legal abortion launched

Save Ghana, a non-governmental organisation, on Monday launched this year’s global day of action for access to safe and legal abortion, with a call on government to fully legalize the practice (abortion).

Organized by Safe Abortion Action Fund, Global Media Foundation and Save Ghana, the launch was on the theme: “Abort the stigma, bust the myths and discrimination.”

It also formed part of global campaign activities undertaken by the International Campaign for Women’s Rights to Safe Abortion.

Ms Racheal Kanwmaa, Reproductive Health Officer, said 40 per cent of pregnancies (80 million per year) were unintended, 200 women wanted better contraceptives, 137 million had no access to contraceptives, and 64 million were using traditional methods.

She said there was an unmet need for contraceptives and family planning services, and as a result 400,000 people died due to unsafe abortion, while 300,000 people died due to labour, delivery or other causes, and this was a very disturbing trend for a country that had the health of its women and young girls at heart.

She said abortion was legal in Ghana, but under such conditions as rape, defilement, incest, health of mother and child, yet there existed some barriers to access, such as lack of access to information, blocking access to medication, requiring legal reporting or evidence of coerced sex, requiring unnecessary approval test, unregistered conscientious stigma, harassment, coercion and extortion.

She called for the building of orphanages, or the expansion of the old ones, since there would be lot of neglected children.

Ms Kanwmaa said Save Ghana was therefore proposing three interventions at reducing maternal mortality and mordibity such as, making abortion on demand within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, government should include family planning services in the health insurance policy to make it more accessible to all women of reproductive ages, and combating the stigma associated with the use of family planning services abortion, especially churches.

Mr Rapheal Godlove Ahene Jr of Global Media Foundation, said pregnancy among girls under 14 years was assuming alarming proportions, for instance in the Brong Ahafo Region.

He said statisitics from the Regional Health Directorate had revealed that out of the 12,981 cases of teenage pregnancies recorded in the region in 2014, 452 of them were under 14 years.

He said unsafe abortion accounted for at least 13 per cent of global maternal mortality that was proportionately high in Africa, adding that most of these as well as the long-term complications of unsafe abortion were preventable through improved access to effective family planning methods and contraception to reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancies, post abortion care and provision of safe abortion services.

Mr Ahene said however that socio-economic cost was so high that in some centres in developing countries, treating abortion related complications might consume up to 50 per cent of hospital budgets and resources, including medical staff time, medicines and supply.

Ms Naomi Wobuntu, a reproductive health officer of Save Ghana, said abortion rates were constant, regardless of restrictions or safety, therefore an abortion restriction only made abortion unsafe.

She said WHO Reports showed that nearly 42 million women faced with unintended pregnancies had abortions, of which 20 million were unsafe mostly in countries where abortion was illegal, adding that in developed regions nearly all abortions 92 per cent were safe, whereas in developing countries more than 55 per cent were unsafe.

Considering the importance of family planning and the need for access to legal and safe abortion in Ghana, it was therefore in the interest of all stakeholders to come together under one roof to create awareness and advocate for the use of the various family planning devices in Ghana in an attempt at reducing maternal mortality and morbidity, she noted.

September 28-day of action for access to legal and safe abortion has its origin in Latin America and the Caribbean where women’s groups had been mobilizing around September 28 the last two decades to demand their governments to decriminalize abortion to provide access to safe and affordable abortions services.

It had its roots in Ghana in 2009 when organizations initiated activities to create awareness about the negative impact unsafe abortion had on maternal mortality in the country.