Rwandans welcome Kagame’s abortion pardon

An activist and abortion rights advocate in Rwanda has welcomed President Paul Kagame's move to forgive more than 360 women and girls convicted in abortion-related cases over the years.

Chantal Umuhoza told BBC Newsday the decision is a positive step that shows willingness from the government to take steps to legalise or decriminalise abortion in Rwanda.

"I was really happy because this is the second time that our president pardons women and girls who are convicted of abortion," Ms Umuhoza said.

In 2016, Mr Kagame pardoned 62 girls and women.

The president's decision covers cases of women who were jailed for carrying out either abortions, infanticide or were accomplices in such cases.

The announcement was made after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Ms Umuhoza said many women think twice before seeking abortion services.

She said, when it comes to abortion, the law allows it in "very limited cases" such as rape, and this forces the majority of women who are looking to end unwanted pregnancies to opt for unsafe abortions.

Ms Umuhoza said she hoped the government would decriminalise abortion so that any woman can access it as a healthcare service.

Some Rwandans on Twitter have celebrated the president's decision: