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The universal struggle

Jane Gabriel
25 October 2007
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by Jane Gabriel

At independence Ghana inherited the restrictive British law on abortion, and it wasn't liberalised until 1985. In Ghana today between 20% and 30% of all maternal deaths in Ghana are directly related to unsafe abortion.

Nearly 60 years after Professor Sai came to London, Faustina Fynn Nyame was working in a London hospital. One of the women who came to her for help had had an ‘abortion'. What the young woman did not know until then was that the abortionist had removed her ovaries, her womb and her uterus. Like Professor Sai, this woman's story decided Faustina's life's work. She returned to Ghana to work for safe abortion, she opened a Marie Stopes Centre. She worked alone for the first year. One year on she has thirty two paid staff, 35 franchised service providers of safe abortions, three centres and an outreach team - and no-one is denied an abortion because they cannot afford it.

But what drives women the world over to seek abortion? Faustina was the first person who spoke of the part sexual violence plays in driving the demand for abortion. She told me of the women who migrate to the cities looking for work, who sleep on the streets and are raped nightly - and each week they club together to find the money for whoever most urgently needs an abortion.

 

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