Lack of Awareness of Abortion Law Is a Barrier to Better Health

More than one in 10 pregnancy-related deaths in Ghana are the result of unsafe abortions. In addition, 13% of Ghanaian women who have had an abortion experience complications resulting from unsafe procedures, and fewer than half of them received the needed follow-up care. These statistics are all the more remarkable because Ghana is one of the few African countries where abortion is legal under fairly broad grounds, and abortion performed by a qualified professional under proper conditions is an extremely safe procedure.

Abortion in Ghana,” a new report released today by the New York-based Guttmacher Institute brings together data from various studies, including the 2007 Ghana Maternal Health Survey (GMHS), to present what is known about abortion in Ghana, including information on incidence, abortion providers and the procedures they use, and the characteristics of women having abortions.

A major factor contributing to unsafe abortion in Ghana is that only 4% of women surveyed in 2007 were aware that abortion is legal under fairly broad grounds. Unaware that they can legally obtain a safe abortion procedure, many women turn to unsafe providers. Women also face other barriers to accessing safe abortion services, including high cost, a limited number of qualified abortion providers and concerns about social stigma.