Abortion in Belgium: A Precarious Right?


  • Bérengère Marques-Pereira Université libre de Bruxelles
  • Sophie Pereira Université des Femmes




This paper presents a socio-historical analysis of the politicization process of abortion in Belgium. This process is characterized by the search of compromises between the various expressions of the Belgian political worlds and cleavages typical of the segmented Belgian society. An illegal but overt practice of medically assisted abortion during the seventies and eighties, enforced a consensus of non-decision between the Christian Democrats on the one hand and the lay expressions of the liberal and socialist parties on the other hand, and led in 1990 to the vote of a law that partially decriminalizes abortion when performed in hospitals or non-hospital clinics. Nowadays the application of the 1990 law and the abortion right itself are confronted to a general backlash resulting from a rising anti-abortion activism, the deteriorating socio-economical conditions of women, and the lack of training of the medical teams to modern abortion techniques. The abortion right remains therefore an important issue for public health policies and for the women’s right to have control on their own bodies.


Author Biographies

Bérengère Marques-Pereira, Université libre de Bruxelles

Professeure de l'Université

Institut dee Sociologie/METICES

Sophie Pereira, Université des Femmes