By Jonathon Van Maren
Preborn children were entirely protected by law in Rwanda until very recently, with legal penalties for those who procured or perpetrated an abortion. In 2018, the law was changed, with loopholes inserted to permit abortion in cases of sexual assault (rape or incest), forced marriage, or pregnancy that could cause a health risk. In the new regime, abortions required consultation and consent from a doctor.
Now, however, Rwandan Christians are pushing back. According to the Associated Press, the Protestant Council of Rwanda has ordered all medical facilities run by its members to reject abortion and to refrain from performing them. This, AP noted, further limits “access to the procedure in the largely Christian nation of 13 million people.”
The Protestant Council’s position echoes that of Rwanda’s Catholic Church (about five million Rwandans identify as Catholic), condemning abortion as a sin and calling on parents to “guide” their children toward sexual chastity. The Protestant Council’s statement was signed by 26 Protestant denominations.
Archbishop Laurent Mbanda of the Anglican Church in Rwanda, who recently joined other Anglican archbishops in condemning the Church of England’s decision to “bless” same-sex unions, told the Associated Press that regardless of the law, abortions cannot be performed in council’s member health facilities. “For us, we have our belief, and our belief cannot be taken away by law,” he said. “We are not opposing the law, but our belief does not allow us to support abortion.”