2,500 unsafe abortions were recorded at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital last year. Out of the number, 875 involved people who used Cytotech; a drug used for prevention of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID)-include gastric ulcers.
Cytotech, generally known as Misoprostol, is a medication registered for use to prevent gastric ulcers, but can also be used to induce childbirth.
The Reproductive Health Centre of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital has, therefore, warned that the abuse of the drug without prescription can cause infertility and even death.
A source at the centre who disclosed this to the Daily Graphic said although the drug could be used to terminate pregnancy, it could lead to dire consequences for the user if the right dosage was not used.
“If that right dosage is not used, it leads to bleeding, and if the user does not report it early, it develops into an infection that can cause infertility and even death. “It is a drug that could be used to abort pregnancy, but it is important that the user gets medical attention and counseling,” the source said.
Section 58 of the Criminal Code of 1960 makes abortion a criminal offence in Ghana.
However, the law gives quite liberal grounds on which legal abortion may be permitted, but unsafe abortion remains a major cause of maternal morbidity and mortality in Ghana.
Technically, abortion is illegal in the country, but there are three broad and flexible exceptions under which women can demand legal termination.
They are: If a woman gets pregnant as a result of rape, incest or reduced mental ability; if the pregnancy poses a risk to her physical or mental health and if the unborn child may suffer an abnormality or disease.
In Ghana, people are divided over the subject - those who defend a woman’s right to end a pregnancy and those who believe the rights of an unborn child supersede the mother’s.
It is estimated that as many as two-thirds of all terminated pregnancies in Ghana are unsafe and a large number of women die as a result.
Although Ghana’s abortion law is considered relatively liberal, the criminalisation of abortion, coupled with traditional values, social perceptions and religious teachings, has created a situation where quacks and charlatans carry out abortions in clandestine and dangerous ways.
Among some of the crude methods used in illegal abortion are drinking broken bottle ground up with sea water and “blue”; a washing detergent, drinking melted sugar with Guinness and ground paracetemol tablets mixed with local gin.
Thousands of women seek or get dangerous illegal abortions every year through these unorthodox means, with many ending in death or disability.
And in most of African countries where it has been estimated that four million females a year undergo unsafe abortions, 30,000 of them die as a result.
Critics say the current law on abortion makes enforceability difficult and leaves room for untrained health personnel to engage in dangerous abortion procedures, for which reason there is the need for the law to be reformed.
Unsafe abortion is a major public health problem in the country where abortion is restricted by laws which seek to prevent and punish this form of behaviour, with the aim of preventing its occurrence and deterring people of Iike-mindedness from indulging in the practice.
According to experts, over the years, Ghana’s reproductive health policy on the reduction of unsafe abortion only dwelt on the promotion of family planning, contraception and post-abortion care, but not the provision of safe abortion within the confines of the law, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.
However, the termination of pregnancy to save the mother’s life in cases of serious medical conditions; “including hypertensive” disorders, renal failure, as well as obstetric emergencies such as acute haemorrhage in pregnancy, has been available in virtually all public and private hospitals in Ghana.
The termination of pregnancy on medico-social grounds, as indicated in the current law is, however, not readily available in public health institutions in the country. Such services are available in some private institutions, especially in the urban centres.
As a result of illiteracy and social deprivation, many women in Ghana do not know their legal rights to safe abortion.
Source: Daily Graphic
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