A proposal to allow access to contraceptives for teens aged 15 years and above – which has since been struck down by Parliament – has attracted mixed reactions from different segments of society, including faith-based organisations and rights activists. This follows the rejection by the Chamber of Deputies on Monday, October 17, of the relevance of the bill that sought to provide for access to contraceptive services for children (girls) aged from 15, among other stipulations. The private members’ bill amending law No 21/2016 of 20/05/2016 on Human Reproductive Health, was tabled before the Chamber of Deputies by a group of five MPs. The MPs that initiated the bill said that the appeal for those children to have easy access to contraceptives was meant to tackle the issue of the increasing number of teenage pregnancies. Data from the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion suggest that cases of teenage pregnancies rose from 19,701 in 2020 to 23,000 in 2021. Meanwhile, the MPs behind the bill said they will implement the recommendations of the MPs, including further consulting different stakeholders such as faith-based organisations and parents so that they get their views on it. Aflodis Kagaba, Executive Director Health Development Initiative (HDI) told The New Times that it is unfortunate that the human reproductive health bill was not approved, underscoring the need for contraceptives for teens for their protection such as from unwanted pregnancies. “When we talk about contraceptives, [some] people think that they will be distributed like drugs or chocolates. But, they will be given to those who need them, who are sexually active and want to prevent [pregnancy],” he said, suggesting that it is good for a child, for instance, to use a condom to protect herself from pregnancy. “The step they [the MPs who came up with the bill] had made to lower the age of consent would be very good, because it means that our adolescents or minors should have access to reproductive health access, without requesting permission from their parents,” he said, indicating that children aged 15 to 17 have the knowledge to make their own decision. Sheikh Suleiman Mbarushimana, advisor to the Mufti of Rwanda, told The New Times that Islam supports family planning for married couples, with aim to ensure that they give birth to children with a good age gap and give them the appropriate care – provided that the used contraceptive methods do not endanger the life of the user. However, he said that it is against the values and principles of Islam to allow contraceptive use for children, indicating that premarital sex has bad consequences for teens and their future relationships like marriage. “Islam set a principle that children should never indulge in having sex, rather, that they should abstain until they get married,” he said, adding that it helps them to plan for successful future marriages. Laurent Mbanda, Archbishop of Anglican Church of Rwanda said that “as the Church I don’t think it is right that we support contraceptives for children”. “Instead, we should educate those children and parents, focusing on the family and family issues, focusing on biblical teaching and our own cultural values,” he observed.