Abortion in rural Ghana: Cultural norms, knowledge and attitudes

Tenley R. Klc, Stefanie Ames, Brooke Zollinger, Daniel Ansong, Owusu O. Asibey, Scott Benson, Ty T. Dickerson


Using qualitative methodology, semi-structured questionnaires were administered to participants in the Barakese subdistrict of Ghana in order to understand the extent to which men and women have knowledge  of family planning services and in what ways cultural norms, practices, and attitudes toward abortion affect the decision to abort. Women in the community pursue abortion using unsafe methods, despite fear of shame, bleeding, infection, or death, as the perceived cost of maintaining the pregnancy is greater. Protective factors that were reported to dissuade women from pursuing unsafe abortion include fear of social disgrace, divine retribution, and death. Women reported the inability to control the timing of their pregnancies, despite harboring knowledge of family planning. Concerned about perceived side effects of modern family planning methods, respondents chose to use fertility awareness methods or to use no contraception. There remains a gap between knowledge of the benefits of and the actual use of family planning methods, leading to unwanted pregnancy and seeking unsafe abortion. Intensified health promotion and education regarding side effects to combat misconceptions related to contraception, as well as expanding alternative contraceptive options to all regions of Ghana, are critical to improve uptake. (Afr J Reprod Health 2020; 24[3]: 51-58).

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