By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
In this mid-term year to Election 2012, it would be more productive for the New Patriotic Party’s parliamentary minority leader to focus on returning his party to the executive and legislative seats of power than unnecessarily wrangling with firebrand feminists and human rights activists over a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy (See “Minority Leader, Nana Oye Lithur Clash on Abortion” MyJoyOnline.com 6/21/10).
Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu reportedly told Joy News that there are some legal “loopholes that allow expectant mothers to perform abortions.” The Kumasi-Suame MP also called for the establishment of a board/panel to determine which pregnant women get to exercise their right to abortion induction and/or not.
Personally speaking, not only does Mr. Mensah-Bonsu sound regressively patronizing, but the man also seems to be totally out of synch with Ghana’s Fourth-Republican democratic cultural dispensation. It also constitutes the very height of arrogance, verging on outright criminality, for the Suame MP to presume to appreciate the value of human life better than the very women whose primary burden has been to carry a fetus to term, as it were, and then primarily or almost single-handedly nurture these little humans into adults such as Mr. Mensah-Bonsu himself!
Add to the preceding the quite daunting fact that in a remarkable percentage of instances these women have to single-handedly raise their children – wanted or unwanted – and the cynical arrogance of Mr. Mensah-Bonsu becomes even more flagrant.
The NPP minority leader also speaks as if he was just thrown down from outer-space in order to punitively live with us earthlings; else he wouldn’t be making such at once vacuous and retrograde statements as making young adult women who participate in heterosexual activities pay dearly for the very decision of expressing their innate sexuality. Listen to this: “People should live up to their responsibilities. The consequences of the actions that you take, or engage in, should live with you. You should not say that: ‘Well, I undertook the enterprise for fun, I’m not prepared [to have a baby], you should anticipate the consequences.”
Maybe Mr. Mensah-Bonsu ought to be told in plain language that he was not sent by the people of Suame to our National Assembly to determine the most appropriate punishment for young women who prematurely get impregnated by “responsible” adult males like the critic himself!
In other words, rather than get angry with these unfortunate women, the NPP minority leader ought to be assisting, or lending a responsible hand, in the crafting of just laws that would ensure that the men responsible for such pregnancies squarely pay for their coital contribution to the plight of these women.
In Ghana presently, what makes the right of a pregnant woman to abort the fetus that she is carrying even more imperative, than all else in the civilized world, is the fact that there does not exist any effective or viable child-support socio-judicial system such as prevails in the United States. And until such a comprehensive system has been established under the Ministry For Women And Children’s Affairs, self-righteous critics like Mr. Mensah-Bonsu had better cultivate a modicum of humility or risk being perceived as hypocrites.
Indeed, were the minority leader seriously interested in causing a drastic reduction in the number of abortions conducted yearly in the country, he would have called for tough legal sanctions – such as life imprisonment or even firing squad – for the reckless and pathologically hedonistic men, especially the married men, who routinely get these women pregnant, thereby significantly lowering the chances of their victims for professional development and vocational success.
What needs to be done right now, is for the government to mandate the establishment of sex-education programs at all levels of the Ghanaian academy, as it were, perhaps even beginning from the first grade. By the junior high-school level when students are poised to either getting pregnant or impregnating female sexual partners – girlfriends – contraceptive devices like condoms, pills and foams could be introduced into the curriculum.
The head-in-the-sand approach apparently taken by Mr. Mensah-Bonsu is woefully devoid of the sort of take-charge and visionary leadership desired by a twenty-first century democratic culture. And the sooner the Suame MP and leaders of his ilk come to terms with this practical reality, the better it would be for themselves and the rest of Ghanaian society at large.
It is also quite interesting that in calling for a total ban on abortion, Mr. Mensah-Bonsu made no generous offer of being ready to personally care for such unwanted babies. In other words, responsible leadership is about far more than rhetorical grandstanding. It is squarely about putting your money where your mouth is.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and the author of 21 books, including “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Atumpan Publications/Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: email@example.com.
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