Political parties disagree on time limit for abortion

The Belgian government wants to raise the abortion limit from 12 to 18 weeks, which is not to the liking of the Flemish Christian Democrats CD&V. The party has tabled a take-it-or-leave-it proposal to raise the limit to 14 weeks. This is "far from enough", according to left-wing parties Groen and Vooruit.

CD&V is the only one of the seven governing parties to remain reluctant after a scientific committee called for the abortion limit to be raised from 12 to 18 or even 20 weeks after conception. The expert report will be discussed in the Parliament's Justice Committee on Tuesday, although CD&V made it clear on Monday that they do not want to go beyond 14 weeks.

"Abortion is and will remain more than a medical procedure that we should treat with the utmost caution"

CD&V points to France, where the abortion period was recently extended to 14 weeks. After this period, the abortion must be performed with an invasive medical procedure instead of a suction curettage. CD&V MEP Els Van Hoof also cited a scientific study from 2021, which shows that a foetus develops pain perception from 15 weeks. "Abortion is and will remain more than a medical procedure that we should treat with the utmost caution," she said.

"We want a policy based on science, not gut feeling"

Groen co-leader Nadia Naji called the extension of the legal limit for abortion to 14 weeks "insufficient". "We want a policy based on science, not gut feeling," she says. Vooruit calls CD&V's proposal "absurd". "The report states a clear conclusion: 18 weeks," group leader Melissa Depraetere told VRT's Terzake programme on Monday evening. ​

Open VLD, the party of prime minister Alexander De Croo, reacted more cautiously, saying it is "good that an opening has been made". The liberals want to use this as leverage to put an extension of the euthanasia law for the mentally ill back on the table.

Although there is a consensus among the committee of scientists, there is no agreement among the parties in power. However, CD&V are prepared to agree to reduce the mandatory cooling-off period for abortion.

Currently, a woman has to wait six days after consulting a GP before she can have an abortion. CD&V wants to reduce this to 48 hours. In return for its concessions, the party is demanding that long-term contraceptives such as the IUD be made available to everyone free of charge.



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