In Rwanda, abortion is permissible in five instances:
"When the pregnant person is a child, when pregnancy is a result of rape, when pregnancy is subject to after forced marriage, and When pregnancy is a result of incest up to the second degree of kinship, and when a pregnancy puts at risk the health of the pregnant person or of the foetus" (Official Gazette no.14 of 08/04/2019)


Safe Abortion Legal Framework in Rwanda

Abortion in Rwanda is governed by the law determining offences and penalties in general, and the ministerial order on safe abortion. They both outline the conditions under which pregnancy can be terminated in Rwanda under-recognized circumstances. They also state penalties associated with performing an illegal abortion. It is imperative to understand this law and the ministerial order to ensure that pregnant people can safely access abortion when they need one.

According to the Ministerial Order N°002/MoH/2019 of 08/04/2019 determining conditions to be satisfied for a medical doctor to perform an Abortion in Rwanda, below is an illustration of permissible instances:

Article 3: Allowed grounds for Abortion

  • The pregnant 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
  • The person requesting for abortion became pregnant as a result of incest committed with a person to the second degree of kinship
  • The pregnancy puts at risk the health of the pregnant person or of the foetus.

Article 4: Pregnancy age for termination

Except in case the pregnancy puts at risk the health of the pregnant person or the foetus, the abortion cannot be performed if the gestation is beyond 22 weeks.

Article 6: Procedure by which an application for a child to abort is made.

If a person who wishes to abort is a child, the application to do so is made by her legal representatives after agreeing upon it.

If her legal representatives disagree among themselves or if they disagree with the child, the wish of the child prevails.

Article 7: Access to abortion services.

A person who wishes to get abortion services has the right to access an accredited health facility of her choice and to receive the services without necessarily presenting the medical transfer.

The challenge:

Despite this progress, access to safe and legal abortion remains challenging in Rwanda. Many people are unable to access the necessary medical services, either due to lack of accessibility and affordability to healthcare or lack of information on the available services. Additionally, cultural attitudes towards abortion and stigma around the procedure can prevent people from seeking care.

Available Post-Abortion Care Contraceptive options

In Rwanda, people who have an abortion in a healthcare facility or post-partum have access to a range of contraceptive options if they want to control birth. Below is a list of usually available choices:

  • Hormonal contraceptives such as oral contraceptive pills, injectables, and implants
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs)
  • Barrier methods such as condoms
  • Education on lactational amenorrhea

In conclusion, although there is a remarkable progress achieved by the government of Rwanda in expanding possibilities to access safe abortion and contraception, there is still a gap to unleash associated to the above-mentioned limitations. Addressing these barriers is vital for reducing maternal mortality and promoting comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.