BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Abortion is one of the most contentious problems in contemporary times due to its nature, procedure, and effects, as well as the moral and ethical concerns that surround abortion. An abortion occurs when a strong suction tube with a sharp cutting edge is introduced into the womb through the cervix. This suction damages the growing baby’s body and rips the placenta away from the uterine wall, sucking blood and other tissues into a bottle. Abortion can occur naturally as a result of pregnancy problems or it can be induced in humans and other species. In the context of human pregnancies, a therapeutic abortion is one that is done to save the health of the gravida (pregnant female), whereas an elective abortion is one that is induced for any other purpose. Maternal mortality is a large and un-abating problem, mainly occurring in the developing world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UNFPA and the World Bank, 287,000 women die each year world-wide from pregnancy-related causes. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest maternal mortality ratio in the world at 500 per 100,000 births. WHO estimates 47,000 of these deaths per year are attributable to unsafe abortions, making abortion a leading cause of maternal mortality. Not all unsafe abortions result in death, disability or complications. The morbidity and mortality associated with unsafe abortion depend on the method used, the skill of the provider, the cleanliness of the instruments and environment, the stage of the woman’s pregnancy and the woman’s overall health. It is estimated that 5 million women per year in the developing world are hospitalized for complications resulting from unsafe abortions, resulting in long and short-term health problems. The health consequences and burdens resulting from unsafe abortion disproportionately affect women in Africa.
Unsafe abortion is defined by WHO as a procedure for terminating an unintended pregnancy carried out either by people lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimum medical standards, or both. Approximately 21.2 million unsafe abortions occur each year in developing regions of the world. Over 99% of all abortion-related deaths occur in developing countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, one in 150 women will die from complications of this procedure.
In Ghana, abortion complications are a large contributor to maternal morbidity and mortality. According to the Ghana Medical Association, abortion is the leading cause of maternal mortality, accounting for 15–30% of maternal deaths. Further, for every woman who dies from an unsafe abortion, it is estimated that 15 suffer from short and long-term morbidities. Currently, in Ghana, abortion is a criminal offense regulated by Act 29, section 58 of the Criminal Code of 1960, amended by PNDCL 102 of 1985. However, section 2 of this law states that an abortion may be performed by a registered medical practitioner when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, to protect the mental or physical health of the mother, or when there is a malformation of the fetus. The government of Ghana has taken steps to mitigate the negative effects of unsafe abortion by developing a comprehensive reproductive health strategy that specifically addresses maternal morbidity and mortality associated with unsafe abortion. According to Ayiku (2007), teenagers save at least 20 pesewas a day at a nearby “susu” kiosk so that when they are pregnant, they can use that money for an abortion. Although they are aware of diseases, abstinence, and condom use, they still can not do without sex because they earn a living through sex. Some also see sex as fun and a way of showing love to their boyfriends. It can not be said that the Senior High School (SHS) girls in the New Juaben Municipality are all unblemished, innocent or do not engage in unsafe abortions on their own. Indeed, it is common knowledge that some of these school girls do engage in unsafe abortions using high doses of paracetamol, chloroquine, ergot, coffee, grounded bottles, alcoholic drinks, grounded ants, cockroaches, gun powder, and herbal preparations inserted into the vagina or enemas (GNA, 2005). However, even with the liberalization of the law and the training of additional providers, abortion-related complications remain a problem.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Senior high school (SHS) females are well-known to participate in unsafe abortions. Every year, schoolgirls are killed, and many more are harmed as a consequence of improper abortions in nations with stringent abortion regulations. Pregnant schoolgirls who are frightened of disclosing their pregnancy to their parents for fear of being punished or driven out of the house seek assistance from their peers. These friends introduce them to traditional or crude methods of aborting their unwanted pregnancy by drinking grounded bottles, washing detergents “blue”, local gin, and inserting hot metal into their vagina, so that they can continue with their education. These methods cause infertility, sexually transmitted infections, miscarriages, and death. Owing to these reports, it can be deduced that several young, productive women who are the future of our nation are being lost through unsafe abortion related cases. Should abortion be legalised so that these teenagers can freely access safe abortions to forestall the high incidence of unsafe abortion-related deaths? It is therefore imperative to research into the perception of SHS girls on whether the legalisation of abortion in Ghana would help reduce its unsafe practices.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of Senior High School girls in the New Juaben Municipality on legalisation of abortion in Ghana in the light of the many reported cases of unsafe abortions and the numerous health problems associated with them. Specifically the study seek to:
1. To assess the knowledge level of SHS girls on abortion practices
2. To investigate Why do SHS girls seek abortion when they are pregnant?
3. To determine the knowledge level of SHS girls on abortion law?
4. To ascertain What the perception of SHS girls on legalisation of abortion in Ghana?
The following research hypothesis were posed to guide the study;
HO1: The knowledge level of Senior High School girls on abortion practices is low.
HI1: The knowledge level of Senior High School girls on abortion practices is High.
HO2: The knowledge level of Senior High School girls on abortion law is low.
HI2: The knowledge level of Senior High School girls on abortion law is High.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Findings from the study will be relevant to the stakeholders such as health educators, parents, teachers, and students will find this study useful. It will help to increase the understanding and 6 knowledge of issues bothering on unsafe abortion and its health complications to the general public so that they will support the legalisation of abortion. To law makers and government, these can serve as formative feedback for law review. It will provide policy makers with ideas about actual competencies relevant to unsafe abortion among the school girls for establishment of a competency based education in the future.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The issues concerning abortion are so numerous that it is not feasible for a single study to capture all such issues. For example abortion law, abortion effects, abortion statistics, abortion risks, teenage abortion, abortion history, among others, but the focus of this study was to investigate the perception of SHS girls towards legalising abortion. The study was delimited to only SHS girls pursuing programmes of study in the New Juaben Municipality. The instrument was delimited to questionnaires; data analysis was in percentages and tables.
LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This research project, like all human endeavors, had some challenges that threatened to derail the study’s completion. One of the reasons is that the time allotted for this work was so limited that the researcher did not have enough time to complete the task thoroughly. During data collection, the researcher also had to put forth extra effort to understand the respondents’ interview schedules, several of whom fell into the incomprehensible age group. Also, there were finance and transportation constraints to deal with. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, interview).
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Abortifacients: drugs used for abortion. Back alley: illegal abortion.
Boyfriend: a male friend whom a girl has sexual relationship with.
De facto: something that exists whether legally recognised or not.
Quack doctor: somebody who pretends to have medical knowledge or skill that he or she does not actually possess.
Abortion Legislation: Abortion laws vary considerably between countries and have changed over time. Such laws range from abortion being freely available on request, to regulation or restrictions of various kinds, to outright prohibition in all circumstances.