According to the Adolescent Health and Development Programme 2011 Report of the ministry, 216 cases of abortion involving girls aged 10 to 14 were recorded in 2009; 331 cases in 2010 and 582 in 2011.
In the case of girls 15 to 19 years of age, 5,525 abortion cases were recorded in 2009; 6,679 in 2010 and 7,800 in 2011.
The report further indicated that for young women aged 20 to 24, 7,800 abortion cases were recorded in 2011; 6,679 in 2010 and 5,525 in 2009.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, the Deputy Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in charge of Reproductive and Child Health, Dr Patrick Aboagye, said the number of abortion cases, seemed to have increased because the various health facilities now focused more on reproductive health and reported more abortion cases.
He said abortion cases were on the increase, particularly ill the urban areas and among the rich and educated, because “people do not want pregnancy to hamper their progress”.
Concerns have been raised over the reported cases of unsafe abortion in the country, which sometimes result in the death of the victims.
But Dr Aboagye noted that those cases were rather going down, as people now relied on medicines, including Cytotec, to prevent the complications that arose from the use of unconventional methods to abort pregnancies.
Cytotec, generally known as Misoprostol, is a drug registered for use to prevent gastric ulcers but it can also be used to induce childbirth.
According to experts, although the drug could be used to terminate pregnancy, there could be dire consequences for the user if the right dosage is not used – in some cases infertility or even death.
Even though Cytotec is a class A drug, meaning it cannot be bought without prescription, it is one of the most abused drugs in the country. Out of the 2,500 abortion cases recorded annually at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, 875 involved people used Cytotec.
According to Dr Aboagye, as a result of ignorance, many women in Ghana did not know their legal rights to safe abortion.
“Many of the people who engage in unsafe abortion actually qualify for legal abortion but because they are ignorant, they end up endangering their lives,” he said.
Section 58 of the Criminal Code of 1960 makes abortion a criminal offence in Ghana.
However, the law gives quite liberal grounds on which legal abortion may be permitted, but unsafe abortion remains a major cause of maternal morbidity and mortality in Ghana.
Statistics from the GHS indicate that while unsafe abortion is the second leading cause of maternal mortality in Ghana, accounting for 15 per cent of maternal deaths, it also accounts for 25 to 30 per cent of maternal deaths in leading teaching hospitals in the country, a situation which is impedes the country’s efforts at achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 primarily aimed at reducing maternal mortality by 75 per cent by 2015.