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Number of abortions in Belgium is decreasing

The dropping numbers are mainly due to cheaper contraception, according to the abortion committee. Credit: Belga

The number of abortions in Belgium has dropped by 10% in the last five years, according to reports by the National Pregnancy Termination Evaluation Committee.

Especially for teenagers and women in their twenties, the numbers are decreasing, according to the figures for the 2012-2017 period, which De Morgen could view. Before this report, the most up to date figures dated from 2011.

In 2017, there were 17,257 terminations of pregnancy in Belgium, compared to 19,155 in 2012.

The average age at which women opted for abortion in 2017 was 28.5 years, with the main reasons being that they did not want to have children at that moment (27%), their family was complete (13%), or that they were too young (9%).

The vast majority of terminations take place in abortion centres (84%), and 472 women travelled to the Netherlands in 2017 for an abortion, because the Belgian statutory term (at 12 weeks) has been exceeded, and abortion is legal up to 24 weeks in the Netherlands.

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In 2012, there were 2,390 teenage pregnancies, but the number dropped to 1,596 in 2017. Among people in their twenties, the number of abortions fell by 1,307 in the same five years.

The dropping numbers are mainly due to cheaper contraception, according to the abortion committee, reports Het Laatste Nieuws. People up to 21 can receive contraceptives free of charge, and from April 2020, that age could be upped to 25. Additionally, the morning-after pill will be made free for all women, regardless of their age.

Recently, a bill was proposed in the Belgian parliament which aimed to increase the legal period for an abortion from 12 to 18 weeks, and to reduce the mandatory reflection period from 6 days to 2.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times