Can you get an abortion in Belgium?

Ireland's decision to relax anti-abortion legislation has also concentrated minds on this issue in Belgium. Legislating in favour of abortion was a tricky and lengthy procedure. It was only in 1990 that lawmakers here grasped this nettle.
© BSIP / Reporters

Since 1990 women in Belgium can legally get an abortion if certain conditions are met. Abortions are only possible if the pregnancy is under twelve weeks. The woman in question must wait six days after seeing a doctor before she can have her abortion and it must be an "emergency". Belgian law doesn't specify any further what an "emergency" means. Thinking you are too young or that you already have enough kids already are acceptable "emergency" reasons. Terminations after twelve weeks are only possible if the mother is in danger or the child will not be fully healthy.

In 2011 19,578 abortions were carried out on Belgian soil. The Belgian follow up commission is unable to meet because the members no longer comply with the necessary language, gender and job requirements.

Carrying out an abortion remains a criminal act unless certain conditions are met. In some quarters there are calls for this law to be repealed, for the six day cooling off period and the "emergency" notion to be ditched.