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Last Updated: Friday, 24 February 2006, 11:55 GMT
'My illegal abortion regrets'
Ghanaian market trader, Esinam, 42, told the BBC's Africa Have Your Say programme why she decided to have an illegal abortion at a back-street clinic in Accra.

Abortions are outlawed in Ghana except for cases involving rape and incest, or if the woman can prove she is mentally ill.

Esinam sitting in a wheelchair
Esinam regrets having a termination by an unqualified person
I was devastated after finding out that I was pregnant for the fourth time, despite using contraception.

My husband and I can barely look after our three children on the little income we have. How could we afford to feed another mouth?

Thus, I decided to have an abortion. I didn't have any counselling - the decision was my own.

My friends told me about a special clinic in Accra. Trusting them, I decided to go there.

Four months gone

On the day of the abortion I woke up early, did some household chores and got the children ready for school. After dropping them off, I took a taxi to the clinic. I was four months pregnant at the time.

The reception was very neat and tidy and there were other women waiting on benches.

I felt cold and couldn't see. I was losing so much blood, I thought I would die

I had thought the procedure would be done in an operating theatre but it wasn't. It was just an ordinary room.

Even though I realised it wasn't a proper clinic, I was still determined to go through with the termination. I had no choice.

The 'doctor' asked me to undress and lie down. After an examination, he inserted some metal instruments into my vagina. He didn't give me any aesthetic - he just began removing things from my body.

I didn't see anything, but felt a pulling sensation. The pain was unbearable, but I muffled my screams.

I did not allow myself to fully express my pain. I felt guilty about the whole thing, but the idea of bringing up another child in abject poverty convinced me I had made the right decision.

After fifteen minutes of 'surgery', he inserted a white tablet into my vagina. He told me that this would cause the remaining foetal parts to eventually discharge.

Regret

In agony, I went home, to await the next stage of my abortion.

AFRICA HAVE YOUR SAY
Most women don't want to have an abortion, but society looks down on single mothers
Anonymous, Congo

That night, I bled profusely. My stomach was bloated and I gave off a foul odour. I felt very weak and confused. My husband was on a night shift, so a neighbour rushed me to hospital.

My heart was beating very fast and I began to drift in and out of consciousness. I felt cold and couldn't see. I was losing so much blood, I thought I would die. My mind went blank.

When I regained consciousness, I was told that my womb was rotten and had been removed.

I cannot have any more children and if I had lost any more blood, I would have died. I am very grateful to the doctor and his team at Accra's Ridge Hospital who saved my life.

I am lucky to be alive and really regret going to an unqualified person to have a termination.

I would urge anyone considering an abortion to get counselling from a qualified doctor first, before undergoing this procedure.




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