Belgium in Brief: Abortion laws, the fight continues

Belgium in Brief: Abortion laws, the fight continues

The Supreme Court's decision to withdraw the constitutional right to abortion has reverberated far beyond the US, with celebrities and lawmakers – including Belgium's premier – being quick to voice their opposition to the regressive ruling.

The widespread rebuke, which spread to the stage as musicians added to the criticism, seemed to resound from all corners of the European media. The idea that women should be able to make decisions about their reproductive health seems an inalienable tenet of the EU project, that among other ambitions, puts civil rights at the heart of its ethos.

Yet this isn't to say that the EU is an untarnished temple of human rights. Poland was the first European country to partially decriminalise abortion in 1932 yet in 2020, a near-total ban was introduced that has almost no regard for the health of the mother or child. Such a move seems unconscionable in Belgium, but only 55% of the population believes that women should be allowed an abortion in any circumstance. Support for the right is far from unanimous.

Last week's decision in the US highlights the dangers of their peculiar and archaic law-making process. Commentators haven't missed the hypocrisy of those who see gun laws as set in stone but are hardline supporters of constitutional changes such as this one.

In Europe, the events in the US should serve as a reminder that things won are not always done.

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1. Paying lower taxes? Belgium considers adjusting personal income tax

Belgium’s Federal Government is looking into adjusting personal income tax, in order to raise the tax brackets more quickly and align them with the rise in wages due to inflation. Read more.

2. Turning back abortion rights: Unthinkable in Belgium?

Last week, the United States Supreme Court ended the federal right to abortion by overturning the historic 1973 ‘Roe v Wade’ ruling which protected a pregnant woman’s freedom to have an abortion. Read more.

3. 30 masked people armed with knives vandalise bar in La Louvière

30 masked people armed with knives stormed a bar on Place Mansart in the Wallonian city of La Louvière on Saturday evening. Read more.

4. TotalEnergies admits to polluting Scheldt river

Following a technical defect at the TotalEnergies oil refinery in Antwerp, contaminants entered a cooling water system at the site, which has ultimately led to “light” pollution of the nearby Scheldt river. A visible trace of pollution has now settled along the river’s surface. Read more.

5. Opioid use in Belgium doubles in 15 years

The number of Belgians receiving prescription opioids almost doubled between 2005 and 2019. A total of 1,126,167 Belgians (roughly 10% of the population) are prescribed opiate medicine for moderate to severe pain each year, according to statistics from Eurotox. Read more.

6. Insufficient language knowledge most significant barrier to finding job in Belgium

For those born outside of Belgium and are also looking for a job in the country, insufficient knowledge of one of the country’s official languages is the main obstacle to finding a job. Read more.

7. Hidden Belgium: One of the largest rose gardens in Europe

Located in the grounds of Coloma castle, not far from Brussels, this is one of the largest rose gardens in Europe. Read more.

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