In Ghana, abortion is often seen as a controversial topic. Usually because of the moral implications of the act. In any case, it is very important for us as a people to weigh the moral repercussions of every act before we engage in it. However, the topic of abortion is more nuanced than most make it out to be. We need to educate people on abortion, the different kinds and what the Criminal Code of Ghana says about it. This is exactly what this post seeks to do.
Abortion is defined by the World Health Organization as ‘the loss of a pregnancy before the fetus is capable of extra-uterine life.’
- Spontaneous (Miscarriage)
- Induced (safe or unsafe)
From the definition above, we can tell that the definition of abortion is broader than most people think it is. The mention of abortion often invokes the thought of illegal or unsafe abortion, hence the level of resistance it receives in the Ghanaian society.
Again, WHO defines unsafe abortion as “a procedure for terminating a pregnancy performed by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment, not in conformity with minimal medical standards, or both”. This definition puts things into perspective. Also, Section 58 of the Criminal Offense Act 1960 (Act 25) mentions that a woman is a culprit if she administers on herself poison, drug or any instrument with the intention of causing an abortion. It also states in section 58, clause 2b (i) that any person who;
“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”.
We can deduce from the quote above that unsafe abortion is criminal according to the laws of Ghana.
The Info graph gives a visual representation of the analysis of (unsafe) abortion cases from 2014-2016, reported to the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU). The highest number of reported abortion cases recorded, was in 2014, forming 49.0% of the total number of cases recorded in all the three years. It is worth noting that, in all three years, 2016 recorded the least number of abortion cases which makes up for 12.2% of the total number.
The visualization is a representation of the total number of cases that were reported to DOVVSU from 2014 to 2016, how many cases reported that involved closed family members, extended family members and others, the number of suspects and the total number of arrests made.