Reproductive rights

Rwanda: Ensure Access to Safe Legal Abortions

Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2012 May 30
Update Date: 
2012 Jul 11
Update: 

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.

>> TAKE ACTION NOW!

Letters should go to President Paul Kagame:

c/o Ines Mpambara
Director of Cabinet Office of the President
Email: inesmp@presidenccy.gov.rw

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

Letters: 

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.

Sincerely,

Equality Now & SOAWR Release Guide on Groundbreaking Protocol on Rights of Women in Africa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
14 July 2011
Contact: NAIROBI: Mary Ciugu, (254) 20 271-9832/913, equalitynownairobi@equalitynow.org

Equality Now and Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) Release New Practical Guide on Using the Groundbreaking Protocol on Rights of Women in Africa

How-to-Guide will Equip Activists with Strong Tools to Protect and Advance African Women's Rights

Success in Nepal: The Decriminalization of Abortion

Action Number: 
10.3
Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
2002 Nov 1

A new law easing the blanket prohibition on abortion in Nepal was finally passed by the Lower House of Parliament in Nepal and came into force on 26 September 2002, after the Country Code (11th Amendment) Bill was given royal assent. This new legislation is a success resulting from many years of campaigning by women's rights activists in Nepal with support from around the world.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the officials listed below, congratulating them on the passage of the Country Code (11th Amendment) Act, and asking that they use their good offices to effect the release from jail of all women who have been imprisoned for abortion. Ask also that provision be made in the country for better access to healthcare, including education on reproductive health. Letters should be addressed to:

His Majesty The King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev
Royal Palace Secretariat
Narayanhity Royal Palace
Kathmandu, Nepal
Telephone: +977-1-227576, 227577
Fax: +977-1-228295

The Right Honorable Lokendra Bahadur Chand
Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister
Singha Durbar
Kathmandu, Nepal
Telephone: +977-1-228555, 227955
Fax: +977-1-227286

Nepal: Maternal Mortality and The Criminalization of Abortion—The Death of Bimla

Action Number: 
10.2
Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
1998 May 1

BimlaThe 20-year-old Nepali woman in this picture is shown with her husband and two daughters, aged one and three years old. Shortly after this picture was taken, Bimla became pregnant again. Harassed by her in-laws, who feared that Bimla would have yet another daughter when they wanted a grandson, Bimla sought an abortion. The "back street" abortionist she found inserted two capsules in her vagina. The next day, after painful contractions, Bimla started bleeding.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, and to the other government officials named below. Express concern that the anti-abortion laws in Nepal have led to such a high maternal mortality rate and that many deaths might have been averted if safe and legal abortion had been available. Cite the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, held in 1995 in Beijing, which urged governments in its Platform for Action "to deal with the health impact of unsafe abortion as a major public health concern" and to consider "reviewing laws containing punitive measures against women who have undergone illegal abortions." Note also the recent WHO finding that anti-abortion laws kill women—they do not necessarily prevent abortions. Express support for efforts to amend the law on abortion, while noting concern over the provision requiring the husband's consent and the exclusion of unmarried women. Urge that the draft amendment be revised to address these concerns and passed into law as quickly as possible, in the interest of saving lives. Letters should be addressed to:

Chairman, Human Rights Committee
Parliament
Singh Darbar
Kathmandu, Nepal

Secretary
Parliament
Singh Darbar
Kathmandu, Nepal

Secretary
Ministry of Law
Babar Mahal
Kathmandu, Nepal

Secretary
Ministry of Women and Social Welfare
Social Welfare Building, Lainchaur
Kathmandu, Nepal

Nepal: Abortion Imprisonment-The Case of Lok Maya Adhikari

Action Number: 
10.1
Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
1996 Jun 1

Lok Maya AdhikariLok Maya Adhikari is a thirty-eight-year-old farmer in Bhadrapur, Nepal who has been in detention since June 1995, and is now serving a one-year sentence on the charge of having had an abortion. Married at the age of 15 and widowed at 32, Lok Maya was left with five children, the youngest of whom is six years old. Her children, two sons and three daughters, have been sent to live with an uncle while their mother serves her prison term.

What You Can Do: 

Please write to the Chairman of the Foreign and Human Rights Committee, and to the other government officials named below. Express concern that the anti-abortion laws in Nepal have led to such a high maternal mortality rate and that many deaths might have been averted if safe and legal abortion had been available. Cite the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, held last year in Beijing, which urged governments in its Platform for Action "to deal with the health impact of unsafe abortion as a major public health concern" and to consider "reviewing laws containing punitive measures against women who have undergone illegal abortions." Cite the case of Lok Maya Adhikari and question whether it is wise and whether it is just to treat a person under such circumstances, a widowed mother of five, as a criminal offender under the law, subject to imprisonment. Welcome the recent initiative to amend the law on abortion and provide access for women to safe and legal abortion, but express concern over the provisions requiring the husband or parent's consent. Urge that such provisions be deleted from the draft amendment, and that the amendment be passed into law as quickly as possible, in the interest of saving lives. Letters should be addressed to:

Hon. Jaya Prakash Anand
Chairman
Foreign and Human Rights Committee of the Parliament
Singh Darbar, Kathmandu, Nepal

Mr. Surya Kiran Gurung
Secretary
Parliament
Singh Darbar
Kathmandu, Nepal

Mr. Suresh Man Shresth
Secretary
Ministry of Law
Babar Mahal
Kathmandu, Nepal

Ms. Prabha Basnet
Secretary
Ministry of Women and Social Welfare
Social Welfare Building
Lainchaur
Kathmandu, Nepal

Poland: Medical Society Bars Doctors from Performing Legal Abortions

Action Number: 
1.2
Update: 
UPDATE
Date: 
1992 Jun 1

"We are living in a state of women's hell" is how the Parliamentary Women's Club described their situation in Poland since the new Physician's Code of Ethics entered into force on May 3, 1992. The new Code prohibits doctors in Poland from performing abortions, even though abortion is legal in Poland. For performing an abortion in violation of the Code of Ethics, a doctor could have his or her license to practice medicine revoked by the Polish Medical Society.

What You Can Do: 

Please alert the media to this crisis situation in Poland and continue to urge the Polish Medical Society to repeal the new Code of Ethics. Also, please contact the Constitutional Tribunal and request that they take immediate action to strike down the Physician's Code of Ethics on the grounds that it is inconsistent with Polish law. Letters, telex, telegrams and telephone calls should be directed to:

Dr. Tadeusz Chrusciel, President
Polish Medical Society
Naczelna Izba Lekarska
ul. Grojecka 65a
02-094 Warsaw, Poland
Tel: 48-22-22-15-73, 48-22-22-21-54
Fax: 48-26-58-17-01

Mieczyslaw Tyczka, President
Constitutional Tribunal
ul. Wiejska 4/6
Warsaw, Poland
Tel: 48-22-21-65-03
Fax: 48-22-29-49-22

Poland: Medical Society Bars Doctors from Performing Legal Abortions

Action Number: 
1.1
Update: 
Not an update
Date: 
1992 May 1

A new Physician's Code of Ethics, adopted in December 1991 by the Polish Medical Society, prohibits doctors from performing abortions, even though abortion has been legal in Poland since 1956. A bill to prohibit abortion was debated by the national legislature, the Sejm, during its last session and rejected. Several bills to restrict and prohibit abortion have been introduced in this session and are currently under debate in the Sejm.

What You Can Do: 

Please help Polish women protect their access to abortion, by alerting the media to this unusual situation in Poland, by contacting the Polish Medical Society directly, and by enlisting physicians and medical associations to contact the Polish Medical Society and express opposition to the provisions of the new Code of Ethics which would impose sanctions on physicians for performing health services in accordance with Polish law. Letters, telegrams and telephone calls should be directed to:

Dr. Tadeusz Chrusciel, President
Polish Medical Society
Naczelna Izba Lekarska
ul. Grojecka 65a
02-094 Warsaw, Poland
Tel: 48-22-22-15-73, 48-22-22-21-54
Fax: 48-26-58-17-01

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