Background: Unsafe abortion contributes significantly to maternal deaths in Africa despite the availability of safe abortion services. This study assessed the knowledge of unsafe abortion among the youth within the Tamale Metropolis in the Northern region of Ghana.


Material and methods: This was a cross-sectional descriptive study using structured questionnaires. Data was analysed using SPSS version 23.0 (Chicago).


Result: The mean age of respondents was 23 ±10.4 years. The great majority (98.8%) (P<0.0001) have heard of unsafe abortion. The act is common among young, and unmarried women (P<0.0001). Unsafe abortion is commonly committed outside health facilities (70.9%; P<0.0001), in the communities (73.2%; P<0.0001), supervised by herbalists (53.9%), because of confidentiality (43.5%) and affordability (42.9%). Majority, (77.4%; P<0.0001) have heard of a method of unsafe abortion. The commonly used method was herbal preparation/medicine (264 (77.6%); P<0.0001). The two major reasons for unsafe abortion were: to allow the victim continue with education (47.4%) and to avoid difficulties in caring for the pregnancy and child (25.9%). Approximately, 99.4% (P<0.0001) were aware of some complications associated with unsafe abortion, particularly death (38.8%) and severe bleeding per vaginam (16.5%).  A total of 78 (22.9%) have ever been pregnant, and 68 (87.2%) aborted the pregnancy because their partners did not allow them to keep the pregnancy. The great majority (83.8%) have unsafe abortion at home (59.6%).


Conclusion: Respondents had significant knowledge of unsafe abortion and the associated complications. Majority of the respondents who have ever been pregnant had unsafe abortion outside a health facility.