Bishops criticise decision to scrap abortion from penal code
Share article:
Share article:

Bishops criticise decision to scrap abortion from penal code

The Belgian bishops’ conference has criticised a decision by the federal government parties to produce a bill to remove abortion from the statute books. The bill will be presented to parliament on Thursday, after an agreement reached on Tuesday by the four majority parties: N-VA, CD&V, Open VLD and MR.

Abortion is still technically illegal in Belgium, save for certain circumstances laid out in a 1990 law, which famously led to the abdication for one day of then-king Baudouin, whose Catholic faith could not allow him to give the law Royal approval. Instead, he stepped down while the law was passed, in an inventive and unprecedented solution engineered by prime minister Wilfried Martens, resuming the throne the following day (photo).

The new bill will remove abortion from the penal statute book entirely, but will retain certain circumstances carrying sanctions. The most notable difference, however, is the removal of the need for emergency circumstances in the case of a pregnant woman seeking an abortion.

A voluntary abortion is possible up to the twelfth week of the pregnancy, and after a waiting period of six days. However the waiting period can be ignored in the case of an emergency situation, and the abortion go ahead immediately.

Another important change concerns the situation where a doctor for reasons of conscience is not able to carry out an abortion; under the new law, he or she is now obliged to refer the patient to another physician.

The bishops’ conference issued a statement regretting the introduction of a new law, which it said would lead to the whole matter of abortion being viewed differently. The penal law, the group said, exists to “guarantee the protection of human dignity and the physical integrity of everyone.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Mayor wants to close two Brussels bars where alleged sexual assaults took place
Ixelles' Mayor Christos Doulkeridis (Ecolo) said that he’d like to close the two bars that employed a man accused of raping multiple patrons, ...
‘Untenable’: Mayor says situation at Brussels North station is out of control
The situation at Brussels North Station is no longer tenable, Schaerbeek's mayor Cécile Jodogne (Défi) says. Drug dealing, homelessness, ...
Suicide second-leading cause of death among European youth
Suicide is the number two killer among young people living in Europe, a recent Unicef report on the state of their mental health found. The ...
‘Too little, too late’: Brussels mayors criticise CST implementation
After a two week delay, the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will become mandatory in several situations in Brussels from today (Friday). Some mayors blame a ...
Sciensano expert warns of rising Covid-19 cases this winter
The return of colder weather and the relaxing of health measures are giving rise to new Covid-19 contaminations and hospitalisations around Belgium, ...
Hospital food is making you sick, Belgian study shows
Eating hospital meals results in a measurable decline in health, according to a report from the Flemish television network VTM, which paints a ...
Belgium in Brief: Supply Issues
There are few things more jarring than walking into a store and finding that the shelves are empty, be that partially or otherwise. One thing ...
Stolen Magritte painting on display for first time in ten years
Surrealist painter René Magritte's work "Olympia", which made headlines across the world when it was stolen from a museum in Belgium in 2009, will be ...
Brussels airport pilots ’15 minute’ PCR test
Brussels Airport has announced that it will soon begin a trial of an ultra-fast PCR test able to detect Covid-19 in 15 minutes, a far faster ...
Over 1,000 demonstrators march in Brussels following sexual assault allegations
Around 1,300 people gathered in Ixelles on Thursday night to march against sexual violence, according to reporting from Bruzz. The march was ...
Covid Safe Ticket mandatory in Brussels, but no fines yet
The Brussels-Capital Region will expand the use of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) from today (Friday), but it will take a few days before rule-breakers ...
Belgium hosts ‘farewell party’ for Merkel today
Angela Merkel will be in Belgium on Friday for an official visit as a symbolic "farewell" before leaving her position as German Chancellor after 16 ...