Source: GhanaWeb

The African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) on Monday said abortion was legally permissible in Ghana debunking the notion that it was illegal.

Grounds for legal abortion include conception resulting from rape; defilement of a female idiot or incest; when there is risk to the life of the woman or likely injury to her mental or physical health or where there is substantial risk or serious abnormality or disease with the foetus, Nana Oye Lithur, AWLA Executive Member, told a public forum on: "Unsafe Abortion in Ghana".

The forum organized by AWLA in collaboration with the African Alliance for Women's Reproductive Health and Rights aimed at equipping Health Professionals, Police Personnel, Media Practitioners, Religious and Traditional Leaders with basic information on abortion. Nana Oye said the law only permitted either a registered Gynaecologist or a professional medical practitioner to perform the operation.

The abortion should also be 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.

Any abortion outside the defined framework is illegal; the perpetrator, person, who administers the drug or induces a woman to abort or uses an instrument to remove a conception from the uterus, is liable under the law.

It is criminal to abet a person to cause an abortion or attempt to cause or even supply the drug or instrument for the abortion.

Nana Oye, therefore, urged Health Professionals, Traditional Authorities, Opinion Leaders, religious groups and the public to acquaint themselves with the law and to help to protect women from illegal and unsafe abortion.

Dr Joe Taylor, a seasoned Medical Practitioners, who spoke on: "Unsafe Abortion- Reproductive Implications in Ghana," distinguished between spontaneous and induced abortion. He said any termination without inducement was medically classified under spontaneous while any form of interference with the pregnancy that results in abortion was described as induced.

He said induced abortion, which was not classified under the exception cases were criminal.

Dr Taylor said worldwide statistics indicated that 20 million unsafe abortions were committed yearly, 55,000 daily, 95 per cent of which was done in developing countries. He said one out of every four pregnancy terminated was through inducement.

Dr Taylor, therefore, cautioned the youth to abstain from sex to avoid becoming pregnant.

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