Gloria is 22 years old and lives in a traditional village in eastern Ghana where abortion and contraception are not only difficult to access, but widely disapproved of. She has had two abortions but won’t tell her parents because she fears she will be thrown out of the family home. Gloria knew continuing with her pregnancy meant the end of her education, so she enlisted the help of a friend and attempted an abortion using a mixture of a local plants and stones, which she ground into a paste and inserted into her uterus. When that didn’t work, Gloria tried a branch. After a second self-induced abortion — using a ground-up, broken bottle, sea water and detergent — she said, “I bled and bled and bled for more than five days.” Gloria now lives with constant pain and won’t see a doctor. The stigma is so great that Gloria will not approach her own mother, who is a midwife.

Ghana’s abortion law is one of the continent’s most progressive. However, despite liberalization of the law, women’s access to abortion services is extremely limited and unsafe abortion continues to be a leading cause of maternal mortality in Ghana. Today, Ghana faces the challenge of implementing the existing abortion law to the fullest extent possible to preserve women’s health and lives.

Founded in 2006 and based in Accra, Ipas Ghana is a key voice in a national coalition of government stakeholders and nonprofit organizations united to reduce maternal deaths and injuries. Ipas Ghana advocates for women’s access to a full range of reproductive health services, including family planning and safe abortion.