RWANDA: Church in talks with Government Over Birth Control Policy

KIGALI, JULY 30, 2019 (CISA)-The President of the Rwanda Catholic Bishops Conference, Bishop Philippe Rukamba has expressed hope that the ongoing talks between the Church and government of Rwanda will help resolve controversies on the birth control policy.

This is after the Church was accused of hampering birth control policy by refusing contraception and abortion at its hospitals and clinics.

“What’s important is for people to know we are in dialogue. Once we are done with talks, we’ll come up with a clear agreement,” Bishop Rukamba said on July 22.

Bishop Rukamba spoke after meeting government officials in Kigali to discuss accusations that Catholic teaching was impeding government attempts to restrict population growth.

“Under our current accord, we have many provisions, from use of medicines to management of staff and infrastructure, and in these ongoing talks, we will also discuss the provision of family planning services,” the bishop said.

“Without dialogue, people start being confrontational, and that isn’t needed,” he added.

In a June 21 meeting at the parliament, Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Diane Gashumba, said she had attempted to “educate the Church” about the need for “full family planning services,” including contraception, at all health facilities, but said the Church was “frustrating efforts to control births” by “allowing only natural contraception.”

“We can’t continue with a situation where health care professionals trained and paid by the government can’t do their job because the Church has prevented them,” the minister told legislators.

“Our many consultations with church leaders haven’t produced any useful results. It’s time our constitution was respected and our country’s laws enforced, since dialogue with the Church hasn’t worked,” she said.