On Thursday, October 21, 2021, the National Assembly of Benin voted to legalize abortion. It was previously only allowed in certain circumstances, such as if the pregnancy was the consequence of rape, an incestuous relationship, or the mother's life was at risk.
From now on, the voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion) “can be authorized” up to 12 weeks “when the pregnancy is likely to aggravate or cause a situation of material, educational, professional, or moral distress,” according to the new Sexual and Reproductive Health Law.
The Minister of Health, Benjamin Hounkpatin, affirmed that “this measure comes to relieve the sorrows of many women who, faced with the distress of an unwanted pregnancy, find themselves obliged to put their lives in danger through unsafe abortion practices.”
According to government figures, nearly 200 women die each year from complications from abortion. This law was passed in order to prevent these deaths. It should be remembered in this regard that the figures which had been presented in France for the same purpose had been tampered with by the statistical body, at the request of Ms. Weil.
Before the law was passed, the bishops issued a statement on October 19, on the sidelines of their regular plenary session, opposing the bill allowing abortion in Benin.
They called out to the deputies in particular: “You, the deputies, you, the believing deputies, you, the Catholic deputies, the bishops of Benin beg you in the name of God, in the name of our humanity, in the name of the little innocents, to draw on the cultural, moral, and spiritual values of the people you represent, the resources necessary to say a categorical ‘No’ to the culture of death. ”
However, this exhortation was not enough. In a second declaration of October 21, signed by its president, Msgr. Victor Agbanou, Bishop of Lokossa, the Bishops' Conference expressed “its deep regret and its great disappointment.”
They reaffirmed that abortion is “an inhuman act” that destroys the life of the fetus and that of the mother in many ways, due to its multiple physiological, psychological, spiritual, and mystical consequences.
“Despite a final attempt to speak to the conscience of the deputies, and despite the wave of protest against the Beninese law by all religions and by all sexes, they voted for it,” lamented the CEB.
Benin thus becomes one of the few African countries to authorize abortion. Abortion is permitted in some countries for reasons such as rape or endangering the mother's life, and prohibited in others.