Understanding men’s support of family planning and abortion in northern Ghana
Awarded 2015
Community-Based Participatory Research Grants
Heather Marlow, PhD, MPH

Objectives: Unsafe abortion is common in Ghana and unmet need for family planning is high. Research in Ghana shows that men’s support influences women’s use of family planning and safe abortion services. The aim of our study was to understand what motivates men to support their partners to seek an abortion or use family planning. Methods: We conducted 14 focus groups discussions (FGDs), 29 in-depth interviews (IDIs), and participatory methods with men ages 15-54. Inclusion criteria were written consent, age, and marital status. FGDs, IDIs, and participatory methods were conducted in local languages using semi-structured guides. FGDs and IDIs were audiotaped, transcribed, translated, computerized, and coded. Results: Men supported women to use family planning for birth spacing, economic reasons, the health of the mother, and to finish schooling. Reasons men did not support women to use family planning included a fear of infertility, lack of trust, and fear of promiscuity. Most men knew the difference between a safe and unsafe abortion provider and where to access safe abortion. Reasons men gave for why they would support a woman to have an abortion included to finish schooling, if she had a young child, to save the mother’s life, and in cases of incest. Men who did not support abortion feared death and barrenness as a result of abortion, or equated abortion with murder or sin. Conclusion: There was substantial misinformation among the men in our study and many myths, fears, and misconceptions that could easily be dispelled through more targeted interventions to men.