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Yvonne and Sarkodie saga: The law can be stubborn on them

The law can be stubborn on Yvonne Nelson and Sarkodie in respect of the raging controversy involving the two celebrities.

Permit me to quote this popular definition from the 9th edition of the Black Law Dictionary: law is “a body of rules of action or conduct prescribed by controlling authority, and having binding legal force.

That which must be obeyed and followed by citizens subject to sanctions or legal consequence is a law.”

I want to emphasise the phrase “which must be obeyed and followed by citizens subject to sanctions.”

An Enactment made by Parliament is so important and powerful as stated in Article 11 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana hence, provisions in the Criminal and Other Offences Act 1960 (Act 29) should be respected.

A “celebrity” is a person in the public eye who, for better or worse, has earned fame or infamy, or found renown or scandal, as a consequence of some act or supposed quality, and is celebrated as a result.” (Oxford University Press, 2008).

Whether celebrities are good or bad role models, they can influence our teens’ identity, values, attitudes, and behaviours.

According to Banigbe (2016), “Some teens today are easily influenced by what they see and if a teen is a huge fan of a celebrity, sooner or later, he might get obsessed with what that celebrity does and want to be exactly like him or her, from attitude to habits to character…”

It is reported that Yvonne Nelson has about seven million and three hundred thousand (7.3m) followers on Instagram as of February, 2023, whilst Michael Owusu Addo, affectionately known as Sarkodie, has about five million and two hundred thousand (5.2m) followers on Instagram at the same date.

The question is whether or not Yvonne Nelson and Sarkodie can be prosecuted for the offence of committing an abortion.

I have heard people talking about the civil aspect of the pronouncement done in the ‘I am not Yvonne Nelson’ book against Sarkodie, “I wasn’t the only one responsible for the situation, so I called the man whose potent seed had germinated in me. His name is Michael Owusu Addo, a renowned Ghanaian musician who is better known as Sarkodie… But I lost my guard with Sarkodie and had to pay dearly… the only option was to get rid of it.

“When I sat on the WC, clots of blood fell into the toilet bowl like constipated poop… I agreed with Sarkodie that, this time, we had to do it in a hospital or health facility…

Again, that friend of mine had a recommendation. It was a facility in Mamprobi, and, on the appointed day, Sarkodie drove me there with his manager and they left.”

On the other hand Sarkodie admitted in his song ‘Try me’ that they did the thing but as to whether he asked Miss Nelson to abort it was not ascertained.

Illegal abortions are criminal offences subject to at most five years in prison for the pregnant woman who induced the said abortion, as well as for any doctor or other person who assisted this pregnant woman in accessing, or carrying out an abortion.

Follow me as I walk you through some statistics of Abortion cases in Ghana:

More than one in 10 pregnancy-related deaths in Ghana are the result of unsafe abortions.

According to the 2007 GMHS survey, at least 7% of all pregnancies in Ghana end in abortion, and 15% of women aged 15–49 admitted to having had an abortion.

Abortion rates were highest among 20–24-year-olds, educated and wealthier women, and those living in urban areas.

According to the same survey, just over half of the women (57%) who admitted that they had had an abortion sought a doctor to perform the procedure, while most others turned to pharmacists or traditional midwives to induce abortion.

Almost one in five women induced the abortion themselves or had the help of a friend.

The most common reason women sought an abortion was not having the financial means to take care of a child.

Other frequently reported reasons included wanting to delay childbearing or complete school.

“That so many Ghanaian women are killed or injured by unsafe abortion is all the more tragic because it is unnecessary.”

I would like to delve into the criminal aspect of it.

In section 58 of Act 29 Supra, “Whoever intentionally and unlawfully causes abortion or miscarriage shall be guilty of second degree felony.”

The question is, did she abort the foetus because of incest, medical reasons, complications or rape?

If not, what is the possible punishment for them? Both the Actus reus and mens rea existed and Yvonne is presumed to know the law as a University graduate by then.

She also said in her book that she had attained the age of twenty-five (25) and as a person of her calibre she should have known at least the law regarding an abortion.

However, there is a saying that ignorance of law excuses no one (ignorantia legis neminem excusat).

In the case of Roe v Wade, the supreme court overturned, ending the nationwide right to abortion in the United States of America.

Biblically there are about twenty quotations that talk against abortion (see Exodus 20:13) that “You shall not murder.”

This verse is used to argue that abortion is the taking of a human life and therefore violates this commandment etc.

According to religious and spiritual teachings, it’s like taking the life of an individual.”

In the case of the Attorney General vs Rosemond Brown (Akwapim Poloo), the court of public opinion said she should be prosecuted since she is a celebrity and her actions will have negative consequences on youths and her followers, though the court followed the due procedures and the applicable laws.

Meanwhile, Yvonne Nelson and Sarkodie have more followers and influence than Akwapim Poloo.

A Nebraska woman was charged with helping her teenage daughter end her pregnancy at about 24 weeks after investigators uncovered Facebook messages in which the two discussed using medication to induce an abortion and plans to burn the foetus afterward.

This is because time does not run against the commission of a crime.

With all humility and sincerity, looking at the pedigrees of Yvonne Nelson and Michael Owusu Addo (Sarkodie), the kind of Ambassadorial deals and the influence they have on people, it is advisable that they use their platforms to give an apology as well as serving as ambassadors against abortion.

But, if they fail to do so, the law should take its full course on them.

By Nana Kwame Mensa-Abrompa TUMANYI

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