Last Saturday, 22-year old Stella Matutina’s lifeless body was found dumped in a 30-metre rubbish pit in Gatsibo District. Investigations by the National Police show that her medical officer lover disposed of her body after a botched illegal abortion.
According to the Executive Secretary of Rwimbogo Sector, John Mushumba, the tragedy occurred when the illegal abortion procedure, which took place at her boyfriend’s house, went belly up. Sensing that matters were critical, the boyfriend and the medical workers who attempted the procedure, tried to transfer her to the local clinic but she then expired on the way there. According to the police, that was when they chose to dump her lifeless body in the pit and flee the area. The Police has now launched a manhunt for the individuals involved in her senseless and, frankly, unnecessary death.
On more than one occasion I’ve railed against the situation in Rwanda, where women are forced to undergo back-alley abortions, performed without proper medical equipment and personnel, because we’ve outlawed abortion in all but a few very specific circumstances. I’ve argued that forcing a woman to choose between a life-threatening shady operation and giving birth to an unwanted child was unfair and, truth be told, cruel. To both the mother and the child in question. If I didn’t discuss this case with a female friend of mine my column this week would have been another pro-choice piece. However, something she told me struck a nerve. When I asked her opinion on abortion she said, “an abortion should be something that no one wants for a woman”.
Her statement got me thinking; perhaps I was going about this all wrong. Instead of debating the pros and cons on legalizing abortion, what we needed to discuss is why they were getting pregnant in the first place. A recent study by the National University of Rwanda’s School of Public Health and the Guttmacher Institute found out that a whopping 47% of pregnancies are unintended. Even though the spate of unintended pregnancies is sometimes jokingly referred to as the ‘Kigali Proposal’ (the story being that a woman forces a man to marry her by getting pregnant), this is no laughing matter. Continue reading