A local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), SAVE-Ghana has urged the public to put an end to the stigmatisation of women who seek safe abortion services.
The NGO said stigmatising them was a major contributory factor to the high rate of unsafe abortions and its associated consequences, especially in developing countries.
Mr. Sule Dintie, the Executive Director of SAVE-Ghana, made the call at a programme at Tumu, in the Sissala East District of the Upper West Region, to mark the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe Legal Abortion.
He challenged people to address the issues that caused women to seek abortion rather than stigmatising them.
Mr. Dintie said, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), nearly 42 million women who face the challenges of unintended pregnancies annually have abortions, out of which 20 million are unsafe.
These are mostly from developing countries, especially in countries where abortion was illegal, he said.
“In developed regions, nearly 92 per cent of abortions are safe whereas in developing countries like Ghana, 55 per cent are unsafe,” he stated.
Mr Dintie said unsafe abortions accounted for 13 per cent of global maternal mortality and it was responsible for one in eight maternal deaths globally.
He said that maternal mortality was the second most common cause of death among women in Ghana, while more than one in 10 maternal deaths was the result of unsafe abortions.
Mr. Dintie expressed worry that women faced a lot of challenges, including the cost of abortion and transportation to health centres and the criminalisation of abortion by PNDC Law 102 (1985).
The Law, however, excludes pregnancies resulting from rape, defilement, incest and threatening the health of mother and child.
He said health facilities offering Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC) were inadequate, especially in rural areas, and as a result there was a great mismatch between the number of abortion seekers and certified providers.
He commended the Government’s effort at reducing maternal mortality through the Free Maternal Health Policy among others interventions.
However, he said, the sad reality was that many women were still dying on daily basis.
Madam Rudkin Baigne, the Sissala East District Public Health Nurse, recounted the dangers of unsafe abortion, including excessive bleeding, perforation of the uterus, infertility, infections, death, depression, and fistula.
Mr. Johnson Saborh, the Sissala East District Chief Executive (DCE), mentioned vulnerability, irresponsible parenting, health reasons, economic hardships and socio-cultural reasons as some of the underlying causes of illegal abortion.
He said if all understood and appreciated these causes, then they would understand the need to stop stigmatising those who sought safe abortion.
The DCE said the Government through the District Assembly had constructed 28 Community-based Health Planning and Services compounds, rehabilitated the Wellembelle Health Centre and constructed a modern theatre, which would be converted into a Polyclinic in the future.
The theme for the occasion was: “Stop Abortion Stigma and Gender Stereotyping, Step into our Stories”.