DRC: When can a woman legally interrupt a pregnancy?

When the pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the fetus, or in case of sexual assault, rape or incest, the Maputo Protocol, ratified by the DRC, decriminalizes the practice of abortion.

The legal framework that now allows abortion with some exceptions in the DRC has been much more prominent.

The DRC has ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women. This international legal document, commonly referred to as the Maputo Protocol, stipulates in Article 14 (2) that "States shall take all appropriate measures to protect the rights
A circular of the President of the Constitutional Court published on April 19, 2018 in the Official Gazette asks heads of courts and public prosecutor's offices to proceed immediately to implement this provision of the Maputo Protocol ratified by the DRC since 2006.

Therapeutic abortion is well authorized in the DRC. Ratified international charters have supremacy over national laws, according to the Constitution.

Now, the biggest job remains the popularization of this legal provision which, once known to the general public, could significantly reduce clandestine abortions at the base of several cases of death and complications in women.

Clandestine abortion is the second leading cause of maternal mortality in the DRC, according to the 2013-2014 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS). In addition, 10% of unwanted pregnancies end with this unsafe abortion.

The Minister of Gender, Child and Family, Chantal Safou, who launched the work of this conference, said that his ministry launched last July 30 the popularization of the Maputo Protocol as part of a strategy developed by its experts and those of the ministries involved.

"It will be necessary to accompany the women and the communities in the understanding of this new context, so that they finally have access to the care of qualities and the rights which they are due", recommended this member of the government.

Two poignant testimonies from two women who lost their respective minor daughters after a clandestine and unsafe abortion further educated participants on the importance of effective implementation of Article 14.2 of the Maputo Protocol.

The conference held on 28 September, International day for safe abortion, was meant to make these policy changes in DRC  known to a wider audience.