Rwanda: Ensure Access to Safe Legal Abortions

2012 May 30
Update Date: 
2012 Jul 11

UPDATE 11 July 2012: Equality Now welcomes the new Rwandan Penal Code legalizing abortion under certain circumstances, mentioned below in our Urgent Alert, which was signed by the President and came into effect on 14 June 2012. Unfortunately, none of the pre-conditions to obtaining an abortion were removed. The Penal Code was also not amended to allow trained mid-level healthcare providers to conduct safe abortions, so denying women greater access to reproductive health and rights.

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What You Can Do: 

Call on President Kagame to uphold Rwanda’s international legal obligations by:

  • Removing the pre-conditions requiring women to obtain a court order and approval by two doctors in order to access a safe abortion.
  • Amending the bill to allow for trained mid-level health care providers to conduct abortions before the safe abortion bill is signed into law.
  • Ensuring women are able to access safe abortions.


Letters should go to President Paul Kagame:

c/o Ines Mpambara
Director of Cabinet Office of the President

or via the contact form on the President's web page


Dear President Kagame,

I welcome the passage of legislation allowing a woman to obtain an abortion if she becomes pregnant as a result of incest, rape, forced marriage, or if the pregnancy threatens her health. I am writing to express my support for the men and women in Rwanda who are advocating for women to be able to access safe abortions.

However, burdensome pre-conditions – in particular requiring a woman to obtain a court order and approval by two doctors before she can procure an abortion and only allowing doctors to perform abortions – threaten to make safe abortions almost impossible for many women to access. I understand that most women do not have access to courts or doctors and consequently would not be able to benefit from this law. I therefore respectfully request that you do all you can to ensure the removal of these pre-conditions before signing the bill into law. In addition, please ensure that mid-level trained health care providers are allowed to perform safe abortions.

These changes would help women access safe abortions and so reduce the danger of maternity mortality and health complications. They would also be consistent with Rwanda’s obligations under the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well other instruments. Please do all that you can to ensure that women are able to access safe abortions.

Thank you for your attention.


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