Rwanda: Penal Code Review to Relax Law on Abortion
The Rwanda Law Reform Commission (RLRC) has proposed adding defilement as a fifth condition under which self-induced abortion is legal.
Along with this, RLRC also wants a provision in the Penal Code that requires women to have a court order before the abortion can be carried out scrapped.
This was revealed, last week, by the commission chairperson, John Gara, in an exclusive interview with The New Times.
Since July last year, the commission has embarked on reviewing the country's Penal Code with the aim to make it more effective in deterring crimes, punishing convicts, and rehabilitating offenders.
"Regarding abortion, the only thing that is actually being proposed is putting away that condition of going to court because it doesn't really accomplish what was probably intended before. The point is, let's not encourage it and in those circumstances if you do it and it's not done according to the exceptions, then you commit a crime," Gara said.
Currently, there are certain grounds in the Penal Code that says abortion is not criminal in certain particular circumstances such as rape, forced marriage, incest, and when it could be dangerous to the health of the baby or the mother.
But there is a requirement under the law that the person who says they fall under these conditions has to go to court to prove it, and even where the health of the baby or the mother is at risk due to pregnancy, a professional doctor has to certify as such.
The result is, for example, if a woman was subjected to rape and wanted to abort, she would have to go to court and first prove that she was raped. That might take a year and the man may even appeal and by then the child is born.
The issue of how difficult it is to carry out an abortion even in the allowed conditions has been in the limelight and some Members of Parliament last month had to put the Minister for Justice to task to fix it.