By Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa
The word abortion continues to evoke great emotions in all populations of the world.
The world gets divided into the pro-life and pro-choice camps as if never the twain shall meet. We must attempt to provide a soft landing for the two groups based on the scriptures, professionalism and pragmatism.
It is one of nature’s ways of reducing deformities which are incompatible with life. At every stage of pregnancy, particularly in the first three months, many pregnancies are lost. Some women bleed a little bit more than usual and a delay of a day or two of menses could be the only clue.
In the management of prolonged bleeding, gynaecologists will remove a bit of the lining of the womb for analyses by the pathologists. It is not uncommon to see evidence of a failed pregnancy as the cause, totally unknown to the woman herself.
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Abortion can, therefore, be spontaneous as explained earlier or can be induced. Many sexually active males and females engage in sex but do not use contraception.
This is in spite of the fact that many Ghanaians state they know about family planning and the various methods but somehow fail to use them. It clearly could be an access problem but also the problems of cost, not to mention the many unfortunate stories that are told about contraceptives.
I would want to discuss abortion from the stand point of two professionals, a priest and a doctor.
The assumption here is that one cannot belong to the other profession even though in reality, there are many doctors who are priests. The priest is God’s representative on earth for the Christians and directs all to be Christ-like.
Moral education is uppermost and the wish is that no Christian will engage in premarital sex and that sex in marriage must be for procreation only, among some sects or if not so intended then contraception must be used, all in attempts to prevent unintended pregnancy.
The unintended is only in reference to the girl or woman who has missed her period. If priesthood works well in this regard, there must be continuous reduction in the number of unintended pregnancies. The wish is that nobody finds themselves with an unintended pregnancy.
The doctor’s task is to save lives at all cost; the life of the client or the pregnant woman or girl. Technology over the years and advancement in drug science has reduced abortion to taking a few tablets. There is justifiably no more fear other than if one falls in the hands of quacks and many exist.
Ghana’s abortion laws
Under the laws of Ghana, abortion is illegal except under certain circumstances. These are pregnancy in an idiot as used in the law, but in reference to a severely mentally retarded girl/ woman, pregnancy resulting from incest, rape or where the health of the mother is threatened. The law must be known and the doctor must operate within the law.
There is a lot of work to be done by the two professionals. More moral education such that the congregations do not get to do the things that are not expected of them.
If they do, then the consequences shift onto another profession whose task is to ensure that life is preserved at all cost. They will give the person another chance to engage the priests, to go for confessions and absolution.
September 28 is the International Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion.
It is a day for all of us to begin to soul search and support the campaign to promote universal access to safe, legal abortion as a woman’s health and human rights issue and to support women’s autonomy to make their own decisions whether and when to have children and, have access to the means of acting on those decisions without risk to their health and lives.
At least, give the woman the chance to commune with her Maker who and only who can grant her forgiveness and absolution. She can only ask for that, if she remains alive unlike the many all over the world.
Far too many women subject themselves to such dehumanising treatment and the many who survive have the harrowing tale stuck in their subconscious.
We can do better as a society by our mothers, wives, daughters, nieces and friends pledging that none of them should be allowed to fall victim to those in society who will make money at everybody and anybody’s expense. Join the crusade!