Wallonia's Minister-President Elio Di Rupo has withdrawn the invitation to the governor of the US State of Louisiana to celebrate the Walloon holiday in Belgium, as a result of the state's stricter laws against abortion.
When Wallonia celebrates its Regional holiday in September, a French-speaking region abroad is also always celebrated. In 2020, the American state of Louisiana had been chosen (where about 7% of the population speaks French, which is about 320,000 people) but Covid-19 prevented the joint celebration.
Instead, the celebration was planned to take place this year, with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards as the guest of honour. However, Di Rupo has now withdrawn that invitation, following the news that the southern state – like a dozen other US states – recently passed a stricter law against abortion.
- Protest at the American embassy over abortion rights
- MEPs demand the inclusion of right to abortion in EU Charter of Human Rights
- 'Devastating': US Supreme Court overturns constitutional right to abortion
"It is inconceivable for Wallonia to grant the title of guest of honour to a State that does not respect what we consider to be fundamental law. And abortion is a fundamental right," Di Rupo said. "Every woman must be able to freely control her body without the risk of criminal prosecution."
He stressed that due to the abolition of the federal law on the right to abortion in the United States, many women will find themselves in situations of distress, where they will be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, even if they are the result of rape or incest.
"The revocation of the right to abortion by the US Supreme Court is a real scandal for our Western democracies. This is the opposite of the values defended by Wallonia," Di Rupo added. "It is a step back 50 years which reminds us that our rights are never definitively acquired."