Ghanaian Awarded For Work Promoting Safe Abortions

A Ghanaian doctor who is among this year’s winners of the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”, says she hopes it’ll bring the world’s attention to the issue of unsafe abortions, especially in Africa.

Dr Eunice Brookman-Amissah has been recognised for “pioneering discussions on women’s reproductive rights in Africa and paving the way for liberalised abortion laws and improved safe abortion access”.

She told the BBC it was a “great honour” to be recognised and to receive the award, and hoped it would further strengthen their hand to safeguard the rights of women who “are dying every day” from unsafe abortions.

She said abortion “has been criminalised in most African countries, is not desirable and is taboo and a lot of stigma is attached to it”, adding that this prevented women from seeking help when they need it.

“Many health ministries don’t have the required services even when the law allows it so this leads to a lot of women undergoing unsafe abortions causing loss of lives and disabilities,” she told the BBC Newsday programme.

She gave an example of her own experience when a 14-year-old came to her seeking termination of her pregnancy. The girl died two days later from a botched abortion, “to my eternal shame”.

“From there on, I decided that I would find out what abortion law in my country says. I found out that she could have been saved because as a 14-year-old she had been statutory-raped and the law allowed for safe abortion for cases of rape,” she said.