(LifeSiteNews) — 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.”
According to the AP, the Protestant Council’s decision impacts approximately 10% of the largest medical centers in the country, with the Catholic Church owning 30%, “most of them in rural areas,” said Cardinal Antoine Kambanda. The Rwandan government did not authorize any official to speak publicly, but one told AP off the record that the Council’s decision was “undesirable.”
Western media coverage had been predictably negative, casting abortion — the killing of a child in the womb — as a “human right” and casting the Protestant Council’s decision as a purely religious one. None mentioned that in nearly every African country, large majorities are strongly opposed to abortion, which is recognized by most people for what it is. Indeed, Nigerian pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha has noted that it is primarily Western governments and NGOs pushing abortion and contraception on African countries, often attaching demands regarding “reproductive health” to desperately needed foreign aid and infrastructure packages.
Indeed, African countries have frequently pushed back against Western ideological colonialism — Marie Stopes, a global abortion provider, was banned from Zambia for performing illegal abortions, and Kenya — where abortion is illegal — also banned Marie Stopes for the same reason. Marie Stopes does illegal abortions all over the world, its activities in developing countries largely funded by Western taxpayers. When African governments — or, in the case of Rwanda, African religious denominations — stand up for their pro-life values, Western activists hasten to tell them what is good for them and demand that they conform themselves to Western values.
This development, however, is good news for Rwanda and good news for preborn children. With both the Catholic Church and the Protestant Council taking a firm stance against abortion and drastically limiting the number of places where they are committed, many lives will be saved as a result.