Highlights – Recent Policy Reform

Burkina Faso

In May 2018, Burkina Faso adopted a new Penal Code under which extends the gestational limit for rape and incest from ten to fourteen weeks and permits access in cases where “the materiality of the distress” has been established by the public prosecution.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Since March 2018, abortion is lawful in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) “in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus” – the circumstances set out in the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa which the DRC ratified in 2008.  The legal change resulted from the ratification having been published in the legal gazette which, under DRC’s Constitution, is a prerequisite for the treaty’s provisions to supersede national laws.

Nigeria (Northern and Southern)

In February 2018, the Federal Ministry of Health published the “National Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy for Legal Indications”.  The Guidelines list “conditions that may constitute a threat to the life of the woman who is pregnant, who could benefit from safe legal termination of pregnancy” including “psychiatric disorders with suicidal ideation” and “severe depression with suicidal tendencies such as may occur in rape and incest” and “any other maternal pathology that puts the life of a pregnant woman at risk as determined by a qualified medical practitioner.”