Belgium’s federal parliament will set up a working group to draft a consensus text for a bill seeking to pursue the decriminalisation of abortion.
A meeting to this effect should be organised on Thursday, at the initiative of Parti Socialiste (PS) legislator Eliane Tillieux.
Texts have already been submitted to the Chamber’s Justice Committee by the Parti du Travail de Belgique (PTB), DéFI, PS and Ecolo, while two others have been announced – from the Socialistische Partij Anders (sp.a) and Open Vld – and are scheduled to be taken into consideration on Thursday.
While the various proposals have the same objective, they differ on certain points, such as extending the legal deadline for abortion, maintaining penal sanctions and shortening or eliminating the reflection period.
Groups that have already expressed support for the pursuit of decriminalisation hope to reach a consensus text after All Saints Day.
The Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA), Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams (CD&V) and Centre démocrate humaniste (cdH) have not yet taken a position on the issue. However, they have all stressed that the discussions should not be rushed through.
The PTB and DéFI, which had made their proposals a priority in the Justice Commission, warned their colleagues against the risk of wasting time and seeing the debate superseded by negotiations on the formation of the government, which have not yet begun. “I’m sounding the alarm,” said PTB’s Sofie Merckx.
“We need to be able to take advantage of the absence of a governmental agreement, which would again paralyse the debate, and move forward,” stressed DéFI’s Sophie Rohonyi.