BELGIUM – Two Belgian Green MPs table abortion law reform proposal

A bill to reform Belgium’s abortion laws by extending the legal period for abortion and decriminalising it, was tabled by two Ecolo-Green (EELV) MPs, Séverine de Laveleye and Eva Platteau, tabled on the occasion of International Safe Abortion Day on 28 September.

The bill would extend the period in which abortion can take place from 12 to 18 weeks and abolish the six-day waiting period before an abortion can be performed. The two are also calling for abortion to be explicitly registered as health care, which would mean decriminalising the act if it takes place after 12 weeks.

These proposals are based on a report of 25 recommendations published six months ago by a committee of experts commissioned by the Vivaldi parliamentarians. “Under no circumstances can this report remain in a drawer. We have therefore translated these recommendations into legislation to strengthen women’s right to control their bodies and their own health,” said de Laveleye.

Several Belgian sexual and reproductive rights organisations called for abortion law reform along similar lines that day, and Médecins du Monde Belgium published a similar press release. In June 2022 they had called for simplifying access to abortion, guaranteeing free choice of provider, and better information and training, in addition to the terms of this bill, which was signed by 50 partner organisations.

The call for law reform has been echoed by the Fédération Laïque de Centres de Planning Familial, which insists on decriminalising abortion. “Although abortion has been authorised subject to several conditions for over 30 years, this right is neither fully effective nor completely decriminalised”, the FLCPF said.

For the bill to become law, the seven parties in the coalition government must agree on the text, but several do not.

SOURCES: Euractiv, by Nina Chabot, 28 September 2023 + PHOTO by Olivier Matthys/EPA-EFE/ ; Medecins du Monde, 27 September 2023