The Abortion Debates in Belgium 1974–1990

Karen Celis

in Abortion Politics, Women's Movements, and the Democratic State

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780199242665
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600258 | DOI:

Series: Gender and Politics

 The Abortion Debates in Belgium 1974–1990

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It took 15 years and many debates before women's movement activists persuaded the Belgian politicians to liberalize the old abortion law dating from the Napoleonic Penal code of 1910. In this ‘partyocracy’ the issue produced an unbridgeable division between the left‐wing socialists and the right‐wing Christian Democratic parties, finally bridged only when the Socialists worked out a compromise with the third party power—the Liberals. When the new law was finally passed in 1990, it authorized women's self‐determination regarding abortion with oversight from doctors in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This movement success was not due to any involvement of women's policy agencies which, dominated by Christian Democrats, refused to push what the movement actors agreed was a top priority for women's status.

Keywords: abortion law; Belgium; Christian Democratic party; Liberal party; partitocracy; self‐determination; Socialist party; women's movement; women's policy agencies

Chapter.  10271 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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