Early on in my career as a spoken word artist, I wrote a poem. I’m not proud of it, so I won’t tell you the title. My friend, Myron AK, was in Degenius Selection’s studio with me when I was finishing it. He had a problem with a line. The line was, “Too far gone, I’m beyond ‘be careful’/ I’m a pregnancy Postinor 2 can’t abort/”. He knew I used the word “abort” to rhyme with the next line which ended with “afford” but he was against the punchline. His reason? The line is inaccurate because Postinor2 was not an abortion drug, it is a pregnancy prevention drug.
I insisted on using the line and put out the piece with it in it. On Facebook, many people called me out for that line. My friend, the journalism lecturer “Prof” Mic Yamoah, came to my defence with a poetic license argument, which I appreciated. I didn’t have any concrete fact to defend myself with so I ran with the one “Prof” introduced.
When I started reading law, I saw something in the Criminal Code of Ghana, 1960 (Act 29) that made me feel vindicated but also raised so many questions in my head. Sections 58 of Act 29 deals with abortion. You can check out the exact text for yourself but there are three major things I want to point out for the sake of my argument.
- In Ghana, any woman who INTENTS TO CAUSE abortion or miscarriage and takes any drug, poison, noxious thing or instrument for that purpose could be deemed to have abortion. The people who abets the woman to commit abortion are also liable of same. According to Section 20 of Act 29, encouraging someone to commit a crime is a form of abetment. Like most crimes, INTENTION is the most important ingredient.
- A person doesn’t have to be pregnant for the crime of abortion to be completed. Again, the INTENTION to terminate the pregnancy is all that matters. The abortion doesn’t have to be successful for the abortion to be completed either. (R v Titley (1877-82) 14 Cox CC 502, Obeng v The Republic  2 GLR 107, CA)
- Abortion and miscarriage are used together in the Act. Abortion is when a developing ovum is expels from the womb before the 12th month of pregnancy. Miscarriage is when that expulsion happens between the 12th and 28th
- The point those three point I listed are seeking to establish is, from the day a woman takes seed or is supposed to have taken seed till the 12th week, any action that is taken to prevent her egg from getting fully fertilised into a foetus and then a baby is considered abortion under law.
Morning-after pills or emergency pills (e-pill) are said to prevent pregnancy, not cause abortion medically. Medically, when your ovum has been fertilized by a sperm and you take an e-pill, it is likely not to work. That’s why you are advised to take it as soon as possible to prevent pregnancy. Some e-pill brands offer up to a 120-hour window for it to work. That is a 5-day window to prevent pregnancy. However, my JSS Integrated Science teacher told me pregnancy starts from mating, the second the guy shoots the lady’s club up. So what are the little men in his gun doing around for up to 5-days?
From how I understand the law (I’m still a student, I don’t know shit), in Ghana the law agrees with Tough Sir, my JSS Science teacher. Pregnancy starts from the shooting up of the lady’s club during mating. That means from the second the guy cums inside the lady’s vagina, she’s pregnant. If it is so, anything done to disturb the pregnancy or “terminate” the pregnancy before the full period of gestation canbe deemed to be abortion. That should include taking morning after pills like Postinor 2 and my favorite, Lydia Contraceptive.
My pastor and the police may be reading this. Let me point out that I’m employing poetic license here.
The last time I bought Lydia contraceptive for a lady, she had told me she wasn’t in her safe period and I didn’t use protection. I gave her the drug just in case my sperm may have fertilised her egg. I gave her the drug because I anticipated pregnancy. What that means is, I INTENTED to end a pregnancy. Having the intention to end a pregnancy is considered ending it under law.
By law taking emergency contraceptive is a contravention of the Criminal Code. So aren’t e-pills supposed to be illegal? Why aren’t they, if abortion is illegal in Ghana?
The law provides under section 58(2) of Act 29 that an abortion could be caused by a doctor if the pregnancy is a result of rape, defilement or an incest (by the way, Section 105 of Act 29, doing your cousin is not incest, shout out to my Chorkor and Ada-Foah people). A registered medical practitioner can also prescribe an abortion if the pregnancy will be dangerous to the woman’s mental and physical health.
Some doctors argue that when a woman is not ready for a pregnancy, the pregnancy is a danger to her mental stability. So that’s a good enough reason to cause an abortion. Some people argue that abortion is legal in Ghana, when it is ordered by a registered medical practitioner.
E-pills are sold as over-the-counter drugs in Ghana. Anyone can walk into any drugstore and buy them at will, without prescription from a doctor or pharmacist. I want to know why that is not against the law if all forms of abortions are against the laws.
Now our laws on abortions are archaic and needs to be revisited. I agree with Hon. Zanetor Rawlings that we need to have serious conversations about decriminalizing all forms of abortion May be up to 3 months, at least. Until we do that, shouldn’t we enforce the law we have?