Recently two women, Clemence Yezakuzwe and Chantal Nyirandengayobagira aged 25 and 21 years respectively were arrested by police for committing the penal offence of abortion.
According to the law relating to the rights and protections of the child, in its articles on conception and abortion, Article 4 of the law spells out that;“Every child has the right to live from the time of conception.
Deliberate abortion is prohibited except in circumstances provided for by law”
In the above article, it’s important to note that the Rwandan law maker put it that when the sperm and egg meet, causing the conception of the baby, human life begins.
Does the person get the unalienable right to life, at birth or at conception?
Currently there is a proposed amendment to articles on abortion in the draft penal code that is before parliament.
The last time the Senate had a session regarding the abortion articles, it was decided that the Draft Law be taken back to the commission for more scrutiny.
The Senate refused to pass it into law because of its long prison sentence for the offenders.
“There is need to think twice about the long sentences because studies have labeled them counterproductive,” said Justice Minister Tharacisse Karugarama.
He argued that the punishment for abortion should be thought along the lines of fines and alternative public service.
For many years, the issue of legalizing and decriminalizing abortion has been a highly controversial and debatable subject, with almost hysterical opposition coming from certain religious quarters, organizations and individuals.
Their argument is that once a sperm and an egg are joined, they begin the maturing process similar to the growth process that continues after birth.
“A woman can be raped and conceive, if you don't allow her to get rid of this, you are forcing her to beget a child she doesn't desire, which is a strong violation of her rights,” challenged MP Julienne Kantengwa, after a Parliament session on the issue last April.
In the law relating to the rights and protections of the child, Articles 30 and 31 stipulate clearly how abortion is punishable by the law and single out who are likely to face justice under such a crime, including the woman who aborts, a person who incites her to do so where applicable, a medical doctor who helps in the process and person who unintentionally causes a woman to abort.
“Un safe abortions are increasing in Rwanda most especially among young people despite the strict laws in place.
Despite the Government’s promotion of safe sexuality among youth by use of condoms, young people still need safe abortion.
Many unwanted pregnancies end in either unplanned marriages or unsafe abortions which may cause deaths or other health complications.
They are not aware of emergency contraceptives but I believe that with or without info, condoms and knowledge to avail contraceptives, young people still have a right to access safe abortion services,” said Chantal Umuhoza a youth activist with ARBEF.