200,000 abortions recorded in Ghana in 2017 – Report

A total of 200,000 abortions was recorded in 2017 in Ghana, a new study has revealed.

Out of the number, 71% of these abortions were illegal. The research also revealed that an estimated 767,200 unintended pregnancies each year.

This was made known during the presentation of the findings of a research conducted in 2017.

The research which was to ascertain the incidence of abortions in Ghana was conducted at the national and zonal estimates using the ‘Abortion Incidence Complications Methodology (AICM)’.

The research was conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, a research, and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, United States, and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

A Professor at the School of Public Health, KNUST, Dr. Easmon Otupiri said many women in Ghana sought illegal abortions as a way out.

According to the professor, unsafe abortions contributed substantially to Ghana’s high maternal mortality, which was estimated at 310 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017.

In 1.4 million pregnancies in 2017, he said, there were 39% births and 8% miscarriages. Nationally, 767,200 of these pregnancies or 53%, were unintended each year.

Dr Otupiri said, however, the unintended pregnancy rate varied widely across the country’s three ecological zones from 50% in the northern zone to 94% in the coastal zone and 131 in the middle zone, a situation that made abortion rates also vary in the respective zones.

A Senior Research Scientist, Guttmacher Institute, Dr Sarah Keogh, said nationally, 70.8% of all abortions done in Ghana were illegal and the stakeholders after the research, estimated that 25.5% of women who had an illegally induced abortion in Ghana in 2017 received treatment for complications in a health facility.

The AICM also estimated that 5.7 per 1000 Ghanaian women aged 15 to 49 obtained treatments at a facility for complications resulting from illegal or legal abortions.

Despite Ghana’s relatively liberal abortion law, and efforts to expand access to safe abortion services, Dr Keogh said, it was unfortunate that 71% of the nearly 200,000 abortions in Ghana recorded in 2017 were illegal.

The team is therefore calling on the government and other stakeholders to reduce the burden of unsafe abortion by educating the public on the country’s abortion laws.

Abortion is permissible in cases of rape, incest, foetal abnormality or disease, or defilement of a child, or in situations where the health of the patient is at risk.

Below is the full details of the research

Download (PDF, 138KB)

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