Providers’ Attitudes and Experiences With Referral for Legal Abortion in Light of Conscience-Based Objection to Abortion Care in Ghana

John Awoonor-Williams, Ghana Health Service
Peter Baffoe, Global Doctors for Choice, Ghana
Mathias Aboba, Global Doctors for Choice, Ghana
Philip Ayivor, Global Doctors for Choice, Ghana
Harry Nartey, Global Doctors for Choice, Ghana
Beth Felker, Global Doctors for Choice, New York
Dick Van der Tak, Global Doctors for Choice, New York
Adriana A. Biney , University of Ghana

In Ghana, unsafe abortion is a relevant maternal health issue; however, the topic is sensitive and stigmatized. This notwithstanding, referral procedures for abortion care are subsumed under the country’s National Referral Policy Guidelines. Considering that clinicians are gatekeepers of abortion services, their referral attitudes could increase unsafe abortion levels. Using in-depth and group interviews, we explore referral attitudes and experiences of doctors and midwives from health facilities in the Eastern and Volta Regions of Ghana, in light of the high conscience-based objection to abortion prevalence among clinicians. Findings show both doctors and midwives’ work involves referrals and most were happy to work in a facility with abortion referral services. Referrals were carried out for personal, client-based and facility-based reasons. Providers also discussed difficulties with following up on referred clients. Considering that providers’ personal beliefs interfere with referrals for abortion there may be implications for maternal mortality and morbidity.

See paper

 Presented in Session 10. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior & Reproductive Health 2