Abortion is the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced. The term abortion most commonly refers to the induced abortion of a human pregnancy.
A self-induced abortion is an abortion performed by the pregnant woman herself outside the recognized medical system.
The study, the first of its kind, jointly conducted by the Ministry of Health, the National University of Rwanda’s School of Public Health and the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute, released, last year, indicated that the national abortion rate is 25 abortions per 1,000 females aged between 15 and 44.
Most of these abortions are unsafe, and are carried out by unqualified providers such as traditional healers, lay practitioners or pharmacists using dangerous methods, which are unhygienic and carry a high risk of complications, and may, at times, lead to death.
Abortions must be done in a hospital so that one can be monitored during the entire procedure and to avoid any aftermath complications or dangers.
Abortion is a crime under the Rwandan law. Under article 162 of the new penal code, it states that “Any person who carries out self-induced abortion shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of one year to three years and a fine of Rwf50, 000 to Rwf200, 000.
Under article 163, causing a woman to abort with or without her consent is sanctioned with an imprisonment of ten to fifteen years. But in case of mutual consent, a person who causes a woman to abort shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of two to five years.
However, if the abortion results into death, the person who is convicted of administering, delivering or ordering a substance which he/she knows the effect, to a woman and causes abortion which results into death, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of 15 to 20 years, if the woman had consented to the abortion, and to life imprisonment and a fine of Rwf200, 000 to Rwf2 million, if such a woman had not consented to the abortion.
Abortion, itself, is killing an innocent child, but again putting the mother in jeopardy of the aftermath such as liver, cervical, ovarian and breast cancer and at times leads to death, especially if it is carried out without the help of medical personnel.
Abortion can be avoided by either abstaining or having protected sex. Women can also plan when to have a child.
Exemption from criminal liability for abortion there is no criminal liability for a woman who commits abortion and a medical doctor who helps a woman to abort if a woman became pregnant as a result of rape, forced marriage, pregnancy out of incest and when the continuation of pregnancy seriously jeopardizes the health of the unborn baby or that of the pregnant woman.
The exemption from criminal liability under such circumstances, abortion is permitted only if the woman who seeks abortion submits to the doctor an order issued by the competent Court recognizing one of the cases under these items, or when this is proven to the Court by a person charged of abortion.
The Court where the complaint is filed shall hear and make a decision as a matter of urgency.
Rwanda National Police has strived to fight and prevent abortion by sensitizing the public. Drug abuse is another crime attributed to unwanted pregnancies. Drugs such as illicit brew or cannabis lure boys or girls into such sexual acts. This therefore calls for everyone’s responsibility to fight and prevent things that can lure girls into having unwanted pregnancies such as drug abuse.
Parents should also take time to attend to their children, give them lectures on reproductive health.
The same goes to married couples, who should plan when to have children by practicing birth control methods – family planning.
In order to help young people avoid unwanted pregnancies, they must have a better understanding of human sexual development, a better education, job development, training, placement and hope for a better life.