Objectives: Because medical, midwifery and law students in Ghana constitute the next generation of health care and legal practitioners, this study aimed to evaluate their attitudes towards abortion and their perceptions of the decision-making capacity of pregnant adolescents. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey among 340 medical, midwifery and law students. A pretested and validated questionnaire was used to collect relevant data on respondents’ sociodemographic characteristics, attitudes towards abortion and the perceived capacity and rationality of pregnant adolescents’ decisions. The χ2 test of independency and Fischer’s exact test were used where appropriate. Results: We retained 331 completed questionnaires for analysis. Respondents’ mean age was 21.0 ± 2.9 years and the majority (95.5%) were of the Christian faith. Women made up 77.9% (n = 258) of the sample. Most students (70.1%) were strongly in favour of abortion if it was for health reasons. More than three-quarters (78.0%) of the students strongly disagreed on the use of abortion for the purposes of sex selection. Most respondents (89.0%) were not in favour of legislation to make abortion available on request for pregnant adolescents, with medical students expressing a more negative attitude compared with law and midwifery students (p < 0.001). Over half of the midwifery students (52.6%) believed that adolescents should have full decision-making capacity regarding their pregnancy outcome, compared with law and medical students (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Tensions between adolescent reproductive autonomy, the accepted culture of third party involvement (parents and partners), and the current abortion law may require keen reflection if an improvement in access to safe abortion services is envisioned.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care|
|Early online date||28 Feb 2020|
|Publication status||Published - 2020|