General News of Tuesday, 30 October 2018
The subject of abortion and whether or not it should be decriminalized ought to be debated and all sides of the issue critically considered to ensure fairness to all parties that may be affected, Member of Parliament for Korle-Klottey, Zanetor Rawlings has said.
Speaking on the floor of parliament Tuesday October 30, 2018, Miss Rawlings was confident that headway will barely be made as far as the issue is concerned if the conversation is not broadened and religious bodies are involved.
According to her, religiousity is on the high side in Ghana and hence “if we are to proceed with this discussion without having that conversation within the context of how we see ourselves, I have a very strong suspicion that we are not going very far with this conversation”.
“In the stakeholders engagement, we need to make sure we are engaging those in the religious bodies as well, the statistics that we have here, are not people who do not consider themselves God-fearing or religious, they all fall in the category of people who have either engaged in unsafe abortions or have ended up in hospitals as a result of spontaneous abortions or have ended up dying as a result”, she further stated.
She highly recommended that the issue be looked at from the perspective of other countries who have had to make decisions in that line, with regards to their downsides and experiences. The aspect of sensitization against the stigma attached should also be well-thought-out, she noted.
“The stigma is real but the situation regarding the fact that abortions do continue is as real as well, it might be quite prudent for us to look at other jurisdictions that have recently gone down this path in terms of repealing the laws that they had against abortion to see where they engaged on this particular journey, the pitfalls that they came across and how they went about it and we can see how we can contextualize this within our own society in order to have a fair understanding of how to approach this. Because to repeal a law of this nature, we need to have a frank conversation but we also need to have the experience that others have gone through”.
“The Republic of Island recently had a referendum on the same issue, allowing parliament to proceed with this particular matter and they had a lot of organisations pro and against the whole concept of whether or not to legalise abortion outside of the ones that are allowed within the law like we have in Ghana. I believe that in order for this conversation to proceed, there has to be a lot of sensitization, and the stigma which is real must be acknowledged as well”, she said.
“We need broad stakeholder engagement in order to make sure that as representatives of the people in this house, the paths that we are taking or the options that we are looking to provide are in alignment with what our various constituents are hoping for. The statistics don’t lie but we must also consider the broad views of those who represent in order to make sure that this conversation has a healthy progress, that we have a very broad debate, and can hopefully come to a position where women who have no choice have the option now and are not stigmatized or criminalized or stigmatized in a bid to make sure that their lives are preserved going forward”, she further stated.
Recent statistics 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 abortions as against 15,325 cases in 2016.
Meanwhile, Section 58 of the criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act 29) states that
(a) any woman who with intent to cause abortion or miscarriage administers to herself or consents to be administered to her any poison, drug or other noxious thing or uses any instrument or other means whatsoever; or
(b) any person who-
(i) administers to a woman any poison, drug or other noxious thing or uses any instrument or any other means whatsoever with the intent to cause abortion or miscarriage, whether or not that the woman is pregnant or has given her consent;
(ii) induces a woman to cause or consent to causing abortion or miscarriage;
(iii) aids and abets a woman to cause abortion or miscarriage;
(iv) attempts to cause abortion or miscarriage; or
(v) supplies or procures any poison, drug, instrument or other thing knowing that it is intended to be used or employed to cause abortion or miscarriage,
shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.