The Central Regional Health Directorate has advised religious and traditional leaders against victimising women and girls who seek genuine abortion services to avoid unforeseen consequences.
It observed that the fear of victimisation, stigmatisation and the misperception of legal abortion continued to compel women and girls to undergo unsafe abortions, which contributed to seven percent of maternal mortalities in Ghana in 2017.
Dr Agnes Anane, the Deputy Director, Clinical Care Unit of the Directorate, said abortion was partially legal in Ghana as the law allowed people with special conditions some space to protect them.
Section 58 of the Consolidated Criminal Code 1960, Act 290 makes abortion legal for a woman with mental conditions who was raped or defiled or if the pregnancy occurred as a result of incest.
Also, some women and girls were allowed the procedure if the continuance of the pregnancy poses a risk to their lives or injury to their physical or mental health.
Dr Anane said this at a stakeholder engagement on adolescent pregnancy and Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC) at the Regional Health Administration.
Present were pharmacists, the Disabled Association, representatives of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union, Dressmakers Association, hairdressers, police, fishermen, and queen mothers.
The CAC is a medical intervention that had been proven to prevent maternal death or injury and the Directorate, therefore, wants religious and cultural beliefs to give way for the health of such pregnant women to take precedence.
Data released by the Directorate indicates that as many as 79 maternal deaths were recorded in the Central Region in 2021, hence the need for the intervention.
Dr Anane counselled women to seek CAC from registered and trained health personnel in approved facilities instead of engaging the services of quack doctors.
She explained that CAC was available in all recognised health facilities in the region, adding that training had been provided for service providers in that regard and warned health facilities not to turn away people needing legal abortion or face the consequences.
Emphasing that the objective of the CAC was not to promote abortion, Dr Anane urged all stakeholders to join in the advocacy to reduce unsafe abortions and their attendant deaths as the Ghana Health Service strived to strengthen integration of safe abortion into routine Reproductive Health Services.
Nana Dr Ama Amissah I, the Queenmother of Mankessim Traditional Area, a champion of CAC, said the Regional Queenmothers Platform would be used as a vehicle to disabuse all misconceptions surrounding legal abortions.
“It used to be a taboo to assist somebody to do abortion. But now I have been educated to understand that abortion can be legal,” she said.
“I am pleading with our women and young girls to go to the appropriate facilities and never to put their lives in the hands of a quack doctor or a friend,” she advised.
As a measure to check illegal abortion and defilement in the region, Superintendent Fii Ochil, the University of Cape Coast Police District Commander, admonished health facilities and queenmothers to report pregnant adolescents below 16 years who would attempt abortion to the police for action.
He said the police would go after health facilities that would engage in abortion outside the purview of the law.