Ghana’s abortion law is one of Africa’s most progressive. But despite having broad legal access to abortion, women and girls continue to face barriers when trying to access safe, legal services. As a result, unsafe abortion persists as one of the country’s leading causes of maternal death.
Founded in 2006, Ipas Ghana advocates for women’s access to a full range of reproductive health services, including contraception and safe abortion. Ipas Ghana is a key voice in a national coalition of government stakeholders and nonprofit organizations united to reduce maternal deaths and injuries. In partnership with the Ghana Health Service, Ipas works to train midwives in abortion care and provide them with post-training support. We also partner with police officers and new recruits to educate them about Ghana’s abortion law. Police go on to educate communities about legal abortion, refer women to safe abortion providers, and even speak out on the need to improve women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights.
Dr. Pius Ato Essandoh, national program manager, Ipas Ghana
One Sunday after church, I returned to the hospital where I was working as medical doctor. At the gate, I saw a woman with her young daughter. Both were crying. The daughter had gotten pregnant as the result of sexual abuse and was seeking abortion care. They had sought services nearer their home, which was three hours away, but had been turned away for various reasons. Now they were at the gate of my hospital and didn’t know where to go or what to do.
I proceeded to take a detailed history, and provided counseling and safe abortion services since I was a trained service provider. It was an emotional experience, and made me understand that so many other people are in her situation and need abortion access and quality services. A year or two later, I joined the Ipas Ghana staff and am proud to now be part of the global movement for reproductive health and rights. In Ghana, we’re working hard to break the cultural silence around the subject of abortion, because reproductive health care, including safe abortion, is a fundamental human right.