Rwanda: Protestant churches defy govt directives on abortion

By Samuel Mujyanama

A coalition of Protestant churches and different Christian organisations have recently defied directives on abortion.

In a statement signed by 26 representatives of church members of the Protestant Council of Rwanda (PCR) on February 8, 2023, and addressed to Christians and parents, the church highlighted that abortion, regardless of circumstance, is against biblical principles.

Their decision is based on the fact that abortion is a sin and an act of murder in the eyes of God according to the scriptures.

The council highlighted scriptures clarifying their decision such as Exodus 20:12, Matthew 5:21 where abortion is considered as murder.

Safe abortion sparked a debate on social media back in 2018 when the government of Rwanda removed the requirement for court approval and the consent of a second doctor for a legal abortion.

These changes went into effect on April 8, 2019, with Ministerial Order No.002/MoH/2019, which outlines the conditions that must be met for a medical doctor to approve and provide abortion care.

This order states specific allowed grounds for abortion like when the pregnant person is a child, the person requesting for abortion became pregnant as a result of rape, the person requesting for abortion became pregnant after being subjected to a forced marriage.

Again, when the person requesting for abortion became pregnant as a result of incest committed with a person to the second degree of kinship, and the pregnancy puts at risk the health of the pregnant person or the foetus. However, for Protestant churches in Rwanda, this is still contradictory since abortion, whether legal or not, is a sin regardless of the conditions outlined in the ministerial order.

Various sexual and reproductive health activists have been condemning religious beliefs as some of the barriers that impede the procurement of safe abortion and the implementation of the law on abortion.

The statement specifically advised believers not to be trapped into committing such a sin but stand firm in the praise of God’s gift of life.

Also, staff working for church owned health facilities (health centres and hospitals) warned of providing safe abortion services because those who provide such services are sinners in the eyes of God.

More in resolutions:

  • Christians were reminded that life is God’s gift, and that abortion is a sin since it takes the life of innocent children.
  • Christians were called on to respect the principle of valuing and protecting the life of the children since pregnancy.
  • Health workers in church-owned facilities are encouraged to work professionally to save the lives of both mother and child.
  • Parents and educators urged on putting effort in effective parenting and protect their children from unwanted pregnancies.
  • Church leaders urged to play a continuous role to teach and help Christians avoid committing sin by aborting. 
  • Believers were urged to uphold Christian values in everyday life as well as promoting peace.



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