Christine Dhanagom

Rwanda considers legislation to liberalize abortion

Christine Dhanagom
Christine Dhanagom
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KIGALI, April 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Legislation being considered in Rwanda may throw open the door to more permissive abortion regulations in a country where it is currently limited to situations in which the mother’s life or health is at risk.

An amended penal code that has been stalled in the Rwandan Parliament for three years was approved by the Chamber of Deputies last Wednesday.  According to the New Times, a Rwandan news service, the revised code maintains the current exemption and also permits abortion in cases of rape, incest, forced marriage, or when the “health of the unborn baby” is in question.

The country had recently rejected similar language in the 2003 Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, known as the Maputo Protocol.  Rwanda signed the Protocol but made a reservation for a section which condoned abortion in cases of rape, incest, or maternal or fetal health concerns.

As the Senate prepares to consider the amended penal code, a Presidential Order lifting this reservation has reportedly been approved by the cabinet and now will also go before the Parliament.

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A statement issued by the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues (PNCIUS), a U.S. based pro-life organization, said that the Rwandan Parliament and Paul Kagame, the country’s president, appear to be “bowing to western pro-abortion pressure” by lifting the reservation and amending the penal code.

“Rwanda recognized the need to protect their unborn children from the violence of abortion when they signed the treaty and they issued the reservation,” PNCIUS Director Marie Smith told LifeSiteNews in an interview, adding that her organization was “discouraged” by the recent developments.

The proposals have also sparked intense debate within the country, with seven pro-life female lawmakers reportedly abstaining from the vote in protest over the fact that there is any accommodation for abortion in Rwandan law to begin with.

Thadee Karekezi, Executive Secretary of The Civil Society Platform, a non-profit organization in Rwanda, pointed out in an interview with the New Times the inconsistency of the proposed revision with other Rwandan laws, including one which forbids the death penalty.

“Rwanda cannot be the same country that abolished the death penalty, reduced punishments for Genocide convicts, and then gives the death sentence to the innocent ones,” Karekezi said

Others, however, are claiming that the revision doesn’t go far enough.

In comments to the New Times, Chantal Umuhoza, the Coordinator of Safe Abortion Action Fund, advocated an abolishment of all “conditions and restrictions” on abortion, and objected to a provision that would remain in the revised code requiring a woman to obtain a court order permitting her to have an abortion.

The country’s religious leaders also weighed in at a press conference earlier this week, condemning abortion and expressing concern over a possible lack of respect for the democratic process. Pastor Charles Mugisha of New Life Bible Church called for a referendum that would “let the public decide,” and Anglican Church Archbishop, Rt. Rev. Onesphore Rwaje reminded legislators that since Rwanda is a democratic nation, “views from the public should be heard.”

Bishop Simaragde Mbonyitege, of the Catholic Diocese of Kabgayi noted that abortion was equivalent to killing “in every aspect, under every condition” and called on the Church to be a “voice of the voiceless.”

Fueling the controversy is a recently released report which claims that 60,000 abortions occur each year in Rwanda, and that an estimated 40% of those abortions “lead to complications requiring treatment.” The report, “Abortion Incidence and Post-Abortion Care in Rwanda,” was co-authored by researchers from the National University of Rwanda, the Rwanda Ministry of Health, and the Guttmacher Institute, a U.S. based organization with ties to Planned Parenthood. It also claims that a third of those who had a complication following an abortion did not obtain treatment.

Proponents of liberalizing Rwanda’s abortion laws have used the report to argue that unsafe abortions are rampant in the country, and that abortion would be safer for the woman if it were legal.

According to PNCIUS however, the report needs to be “analyzed carefully,” since it “contrasts sharply” with a statement from the UN Population Data Bank Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division which says that “abortion is not reported to be widespread” in Rwanda.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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