The first-ever nationwide study of abortion in Rwanda, conducted by the National University of Rwanda’s School of Public Health and the Guttmacher Institute, indicated that 60,000 women obtain abortions annually in the country, amounting to 25 abortions for every 1,000 women who are of reproductive age. Moreover, in 2009, one in 40 women of reproductive age (between 15 and 44) had an abortion.
The researchers found that most of the abortions in Rwanda were performed in secret and were considered to be medically unsafe. According to the study, “25,000 women – more than 40% of women who had an abortion – suffered complications that required medical treatment. However, 30% of these women did not receive the medical care they required, indicating a greater need for postabortion care than is currently being provided.”
Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda’s Minister of Health stated, “Reducing maternal mortality and ill-health is a priority for Rwanda. These important findings will help us better address the issue and improve the health and well-being of Rwandan women and their families. The fact that so many women are suffering complications from unsafe abortion and that so many are not receiving the care they need is very concerning. It is clearly an issue we must address.”
According to the World Health Organization, 17 percent of all maternal deaths in Eastern Africa are caused by unsafe abortions. Dr. Fidel Ngabo, Director of the Maternal and Child Health Unit at the Ministry of Health in Rwanda, noted, “Unintended pregnancy is the root cause of the vast majority of abortions. Addressing the unmet need for modern contraception is critical in order to reduce unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortions in Rwanda.”