To have the same right to abortion in Belgium as in France, is that too much to ask?

A sudden rush of media stories in February and March has announced a campaign in Belgium that is variously calling variously for modernisation of the abortion law, decriminalisation of abortion, and complete removal of abortion from the Penal Code, insisting that there is a strong majority in support in the country. The necessity for Belgian women to travel to other countries in Europe for second trimester abortion is especially condemned.

L’avortement n’a pas sa place dans le Code pénal. Il s’agit d’une intervention médicale, et non d’un délit. Un fœtus n’est pas un enfant, mais une combinaison de cellules. Quant à la femme, c’est un être humain avec une vie et un corps. Et un droit à l’autodétermination. En ne dépénalisant pas l’avortement, le message que fait passer le législateur est qu’on ne peut pas faire confiance aux femmes lorsqu’il s’agit de décider ce qui est mieux pour elles-mêmes ou pour la société et que leurs actes doivent par conséquent être régis par une loi.

(Abortion has no place in the Penal Code. It is a medical intervention, and not a crime. A fetus is not an infant but a collection of cells. Whereas a women is a human being with a life and a body. And the right to self-determination. In not decriminalising abortion, the message that the legislature gives is that they do not trust women to decide what is best for themselves or for the society and that their actions must therefore be regulated by the law.)

En Belgique aussi, la société civile se mobilise pour le droit des femmes à décider. 46 ans après le «Manifeste des 343» en France, le Collectif belge des 350* publie son propre manifeste.

(A website asks “Why keep abortion in the Penal Code?” and says: In Belgium, too, civil society is mobilising for the right of women to decide. 46 years after the “Manifesto of the 343” in France, the Belgian Collective of the 350 publishes its own manifesto.)

The website of the Manifesto of the 350 has a whole page of signatures and a whole page of news articles on the issues, starting from 2015 but many of them in 2017, as the campaign seems to be growing.

The French Manifesto of the 343 was written by Simone de Beauvoir and published in 1971, signed by many prominent French women, advocating for reproductive rights and stating that they had had an abortion, thus opening themselves to criminal prosecution.

SOURCES: HuffingtonPost.Fr (en français), 12 March 2017 ;, 3 March 2017 ; Manifeste des 350, (en français), March 2017 ; (en français), 19 February 2017 ; PHOTO, by Simon Blackey, Flickr