More women in Ghana continue to have unsafe abortions, despite abortion being legal in the country.

A research by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology showed an estimated 71 percent of all abortions would be considered illegal by government, despite relatively liberal laws.

Complications from unsafe abortions contribute substantially to Ghana’s high maternal mortality.

According to the study, out of 1000 women of reproductive age, 44 have abortions. This amounts to 327,600 abortions per year.

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

The research was conducted between June and October 2018, data was collected from the 3 ecological zones of Ghana.

About half (53 percent) of all pregnancies nationally were unintended.

The middle belt recorded the highest burden of unsafe abortions.

“Zones you find high unintended pregnancies, the higher the abortion rate. We need to ensure safe abortions. Looking at the high rate of unsafe abortions, it means the avenues for safe abortions are not well known.  This makes people seek illegal abortion instead,” explained Dean at the School of Public Health at KNUST, Professor Easmon Otupiri,

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

Professor Otupiri, wants information to be disseminated on how and where to obtain safe and legal abortion services.

He recommends improvement in methods of contraceptive services and high-quality counselling services.

“People do not want to be tagged, that is why they resort to unsafe abortions.

People, who approach facilities that offer safe abortion care services, are immediately tagged. Some would rather go to places where they would not be seen.

“We need to up our game in family planning. If you do not get pregnant, it won’t be an unintended pregnancy that will lead to abortion. To stop the pregnancy, you have to take family planning.

“We need to ensure our young girls are going to school. Girls in school will have less time to indulge in activities leading to unwanted pregnancies.

“We need to empower girls to be economically independent. They are unlikely to ask for help and pay with sex,” he advised.