In October 2018, the Rwandan government removed the requirement of court approval and the second doctor’s permission for a legal abortion. These changes came into effect with Ministerial Order No.002/MoH/2019 on 8 April 2019, which outlines the conditions to be satisfied for a medical doctor to be able to approve and provide abortion care – a major step forward legally.
The Ministerial Order No.002/MoH/2019 of 8 April 2019, states:
Determining conditions to be satisfied for a medical doctor to perform an abortion
Article 3: Allowed grounds for abortion
1. The pregnant person is a child;
2. The person requesting for abortion became pregnant as a result of rape;
3. The person requesting for abortion became pregnant after being subjected to a forced marriage;
4. The person requesting for abortion became pregnant as a result of incest committed with a person to the second degree of kinship;
5. The pregnancy puts at risk the health of the pregnant person or of the foetus.
Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 11 of this Order, the person requesting for abortion is not required to produce evidence of the grounds she invokes. If, after abortion, it is proved that the person on whom abortion was performed provided false information, she is liable in accordance with the law.
Article 4: Pregnancy age for termination
Except in case the pregnancy puts at risks the health of the pregnant person or the foetus, the abortion cannot be performed if the gestation is beyond twenty-two (22) weeks.
Article 5: Eligible health facility to perform abortion
Abortion is performed in a public or private health facility licensed as a hospital or a polyclinic by the Minister in charge of health.
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: Pre-procedure for abortion care
Before performing abortion, the medical doctor must:
1. Conduct comprehensive pre-abortion counselling;
2. Conduct thorough clinical assessment.
Article 8: Giving a written consent to receive abortion services
A person requesting for abortion must give her written consent to receive abortion services after comprehensive explanations on abortion. If the person requesting for abortion services is a child or a person with mental disability, her legal representative gives the written consent for abortion. If her legal representative refuses to give consent, the consent of the child is considered.
Article 9: 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.
Article 10: Confidentiality
The medical doctor and the health facility that received the person requesting for abortion services must ensure the respect of the right to confidentiality.
Article 11: Termination of pregnancy due to the risk on the health of the pregnant person or of the foetus
Termination of pregnancy due to the risk on the health of the pregnant person or of the foetus is done under the following conditions:
1. Confirmation of the risk on the health of the pregnant person or of the foetus, done by at least two (2) medical doctors, one being a specialist in the area of obstetrics and gynaecology;
2. A personal written consent of the pregnant person or of her legal representative if the person seeking for abortion is a child or a person with mental disability;
3. A written report in two (2) copies signed by the recognised medical doctor and the pregnant person or her legal representative if the pregnant person is a child or a person with mental disability, one copy is given to the pregnant person or her legal representative and another is kept by the health facility.
SEE ALSO: Information about the abortion law reform in Rwanda, 12 April 2019.
SOURCES: Rwanda Official Gazette No.14 of 08/04/2019 ; E-mail from Chantal Umuhoza, 23 April 2019 ; PHOTO: Teens join Teen Pregnancies Eradication Mobile Cinema Tour by Plan International, New Times, 10 December 2018