General News of Sunday, 6 August 2017
Member of Parliament for Binduri in the Upper East Region, Dr. Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem is advocating for the legalization of abortion.
The MP asserts the current abortion law is the main cause of death amongst Ghanaian women due to the use of unorthodox means referred to as the ‘black market’ to terminate pregnancies.
The law in Ghana allows abortion only under a few conditions such as an incest pregnancy, impregnation of a ‘female idiot’ mad female, impregnated 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 law do not allow a healthy mother with a healthy pregnancy to get an abortion with the sole reason of not wanting the pregnancy.
The inexplicit nature of the law on abortion allows many citizens to draw a conclusion that abortion is illegal.
Furthermore the abortion law only permits either a registered gynecologist or a professional medical practitioner to perform the operation with the abortion conducted only at a Government hospital; registered private hospital, clinics registered under the Private Hospitals and Maternity Homes Act, 1958 (No. 8) and a place approved by the Minister of Health by a Legislative Instrument. Nana Oye, who is also the African Regional Coordinator for the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, urged Health Practitioners to operate within the law.
Per the laws of Ghana allows for abortion only under extra-ordinary circumstances including incest pregnancy, impregnation of a ‘female idiot’ or mad female, and pregnancy resulting from rape. Abortion is also allowed when health care workers determine that the baby, if born, will not be able to have a meaningful life or the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother should she still carry it.
Dr. Kuganab-Lem who is also Deputy Ranking member on Parliament’s Health Committee wants Ghanaians to change their attitude towards the practice of abortion.
“Let’s leave technicalities aside. Criminalizing abortion leads to a situation where women seek unsafe abortion leading to increase in unwarranted maternal deaths in our country” he said
“People are hypocrites in this country pretending not to see what’s going on in the name of socio-cultural set up. Christian and Islamic believes are killing innocent souls who cannot keep their pregnancies for social or economic reasons and are not allowed to abort it,” Dr. Kuganab-Lem added.
Furthermore, Dr. Kuganab-Lem He also expressed concern about religious beliefs that do not promote sex and contraceptive methods education which can empower women to prevent unwanted and unintended pregnancies.
“When these pregnancies occur, the women involved secretly seek abortion form the ‘black market’ where unsafe abortion is offered,” he said.
Dr. Kuganab-Lem noted that in countries where the laws are liberal on abortion, unsafe abortion is drastically reduced.
“The law on abortion in Ghana is restrictive and must be liberalized,” he noted.
The Member of Parliament said its time to increase and improve contraceptive services and make it accessible and readily available to all Ghanaians especially those in rural Ghana like his constituency where women die every day because of abortion.
He believes post abortion family planning counseling needs to be an integral part of services since it is a good measure of how well a country is meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He made this call at a high level round table discussion in Accra on Primary Health Care organized by SEND Ghana in collaboration with Alliance for Reproductive Rights, Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and Parliamentary Select Committee on Health. It was on the theme: “Advocacy for Primary Health Care.’’