The Workers Party of Belgium (PTB) has introduced a bill to reform the abortion law

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The Workers Party of Belgium (PTB) has introduced a bill to reform the abortion law

June 25, 2017
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

A number of other proposals for legislation have already been introduced by other opposition parties – sp.a, PS, Challenge and Ecolo-Groen – to remove abortion from the criminal law and to amend the law in a number of different ways. The PTB say they want to ensure that these proposals are addressed as quickly as possible within the Parliamentary Public Health Commission, in order to remove abortion finally and definitively from the Penal Code.

The PTB proposal was introduced on 12 June. It would extend the right to abortion up to 20 weeks after fertilisation, as in the Netherlands. It would also reduce the period of “reflection” between the request for an abortion and the abortion itself from 6 days to 48 hours. It would continue to allow conscientious objection.

They have dedicated the initiative to Lucie Van Crombrugge, feminist activist and a leader in the struggle for the complete decriminalisation of abortion – although she always argued for no restrictions.

Because of the current 12 week time limit, unless the woman has a medical reason for the abortion, and the 6 days for “reflection”, many Belgian women are too late and have to travel abroad, currently some 500 women per year, mainly to the Netherlands, which costs them hundreds of euros.

SOURCE: PTB, by Koen Hostyn, 16 June 2017 ; PHOTO: François Lenoir, Reuters

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Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/the-workers-party-of-belgium-ptb-has-introduced-a-bill-to-reform-the-abortion-law/

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Lucie Van Crombrugge, lifelong Belgian abortion rights activist, has died aged 72

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Lucie Van Crombrugge, lifelong Belgian abortion rights activist, has died aged 72

June 9, 2017
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

by Nausikaä Martens
Kollektief Anticonceptie – Abortuscentrum Gent

Lucie Van Crombrugge was born in November 1944, the youngest of three children. She grew up happily and as a young girl attended a strict Catholic school. At university, she took a degree in history.

She married an engineer and the couple moved to the Democratic Republic of Congo for several years, where she had two daughters. Lucie looked after the household and the children there and continued to do so after their return to Belgium, as a conscious choice at the time to be a full-time mother. Soon a third child came. She became adept at anti-authoritarian parenting, as a very caring and loving mother who, in a democratic way, let her children decide what they wanted.

Continued at link: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/lucie-van-crombrugge-lifelong-belgian-abortion-rights-activist-has-died-aged-72/

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To have the same right to abortion in Belgium as in France, is that too much to ask?

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To have the same right to abortion in Belgium as in France, is that too much to ask?
by Safe Abortion
March 21, 2017

A sudden rush of media stories in February and March has announced a campaign in Belgium that is variously calling variously for modernisation of the abortion law, decriminalisation of abortion, and complete removal of abortion from the Penal Code, insisting that there is a strong majority in support in the country. The necessity for Belgian women to travel to other countries in Europe for second trimester abortion is especially condemned.

L’avortement n’a pas sa place dans le Code pénal. Il s’agit d’une intervention médicale, et non d’un délit. Un fœtus n’est pas un enfant, mais une combinaison de cellules. Quant à la femme, c’est un être humain avec une vie et un corps. Et un droit à l’autodétermination. En ne dépénalisant pas l’avortement, le message que fait passer le législateur est qu’on ne peut pas faire confiance aux femmes lorsqu’il s’agit de décider ce qui est mieux pour elles-mêmes ou pour la société et que leurs actes doivent par conséquent être régis par une loi.

(Abortion has no place in the Penal Code. It is a medical intervention, and not a crime. A fetus is not an infant but a collection of cells. Whereas a women is a human being with a life and a body. And the right to self-determination. In not decriminalising abortion, the message that the legislature gives is that they do not trust women to decide what is best for themselves or for the society and that their actions must therefore be regulated by the law.)

En Belgique aussi, la société civile se mobilise pour le droit des femmes à décider. 46 ans après le «Manifeste des 343» en France, le Collectif belge des 350* publie son propre manifeste.

(A website asks “Why keep abortion in the Penal Code?” and says: In Belgium, too, civil society is mobilising for the right of women to decide. 46 years after the “Manifesto of the 343” in France, the Belgian Collective of the 350 publishes its own manifesto.)

The website of the Manifesto of the 350 has a whole page of signatures and a whole page of news articles on the issues, starting from 2015 but many of them in 2017, as the campaign seems to be growing.

The French Manifesto of the 343 was written by Simone de Beauvoir and published in 1971, signed by many prominent French women, advocating for reproductive rights and stating that they had had an abortion, thus opening themselves to criminal prosecution.

SOURCES: HuffingtonPost.Fr (en français), 12 March 2017 ; PTB.be, 3 March 2017 ; Manifeste des 350, (en français), March 2017 ; Levif.be (en français), 19 February 2017 ; PHOTO, by Simon Blackey, Flickr

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Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://www.safeabortionwomensright.org/to-have-the-same-right-to-abortion-in-belgium-as-in-france-is-that-too-much-to-ask/

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She Decides!!! A global initiative to challenge the hegemony of the US government in funding family planning and abortion

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FEATURE: She Decides!!! A global initiative to challenge the hegemony of the US government in funding family planning and abortion

March 10, 2017, by Safe Abortion

The story to date
On 22 January 2017, the Global Gag Rule was reinstated by Donald Trump the day after he took office. (See the Campaign newsletter report of 27 January which outlines the history of the Gag Rule, which goes back 32 years, the consequences it had for NGOs in the past and the current picture.)

Six short weeks later, on 3 March 2017, as reported in the PAI Washington Memo of 7 March, USAID had inserted a new section Mexico City Policy (March 2017) into the guidance governing USAID funding to NGOs outside of the USA that is "applicable to all awards that include family planning funds".

A notice to USAID headquarters and field staff stated that this new section will be inserted into all new USAID family planning assistance grants and cooperative agreements, and also into existing agreements “when such agreements are amended to add incremental funding”. Thus, it will not be applied to already existing grants, but only if new funding is added to them or for new grants. The notice emphasises that the Gag Rule does not apply to agreements with foreign governments or multilateral organizations, consistent with implementation during the previous Bush administration. However, the US government has other policies with similar restrictions for the governments and inter-governmental agencies it funds, such as UNFPA. And unlike the Gag Rule, which was rescinded under Clinton and Obama, these other policies have been operative non-stop for decades.

Continued at source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion: http://us12.campaign-archive1.com/?u=c02a095d6213ac4bd2aed2e81&id=bd2731fc6d&e=3fa4c971b0

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Countries Donate Millions To Counter Trump’s Global Anti-Abortion Rule

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Countries Donate Millions To Counter Trump’s Global Anti-Abortion Rule
Trump has banned U.S. funding to nonprofits that provide information about abortion.

By Sarah Ruiz-Grossman
03/03/2017

Countries are coming together to support women’s reproductive health, in the wake of President Donald Trump’s ban on United States funding for global nonprofits that provide information about abortion.

On Thursday, 57 countries as well as private donors gathered at a conference in Brussels, Belgium, and raised more than $190 million to support women’s health groups that will lose U.S. funding, reports the Associated Press.

Continued at source: Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/she-decides-trump-global-gag-rule_us_58b9a4bfe4b0d2821b4dd913

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Doctors Without Borders Reiterates Critical Medical Need for Reproductive Health Services

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Doctors Without Borders Reiterates Critical Medical Need for Reproductive Health Services

By Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) -

March 2, 2017

NEW YORK, MARCH 2, 2017—As the “She Decides” initiative formally kicks off in Brussels today, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is stressing the importance of access to reproductive health services like safe abortions, a critical medical need for women and girls across the world. This global initiative is in direct response to the reinstatement of the US government’s Mexico City Policy, which endangers the lives of women and could encourage unsafe abortions. Unsafe abortion is one of the five main causes of maternal mortality worldwide.

Continued at source: Yubanet: https://yubanet.com/world/doctors-without-borders-reiterates-critical-medical-need-for-reproductive-health-services/

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UK fails to contribute as donors unite to bridge US ‘global gag’ funding shortfall

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UK fails to contribute as donors unite to bridge US 'global gag' funding shortfall

As countries pledge a total of €181m to fill void left by Trump administration’s funding ban, UK highlights existing commitments on family planning

Jennifer Rankin in Brussels and Jessica Elgot in London
Thursday 2 March 2017

The British government failed to join other donors in pledging millions of dollars to an international fund aimed at filling the gap left by Donald Trump’s reimposition of the “global gag rule”.

At a conference in Brussels on Thursday attended by delegates from 50 countries, pledges were made totalling €181m (£155m) to fund family planning and reproductive health services in low-income countries. Organisers hope to counter Trump’s ban on US aid to overseas groups that provide abortion or abortion advocacy, one of the US president’s first acts in the White House.

Countries including Canada, Sweden and Finland lined up to announce pledges, while Britain’s minister at the talks presented existing spending commitments.

Continued at source: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/mar/02/uk-donors-unite-us-global-gag-rule-shortfall-trump-she-decides-conference-brussels

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Other Countries Aim To Fill Aid Shortfall Caused By U.S. Abortion Rule

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Other Countries Aim To Fill Aid Shortfall Caused By U.S. Abortion Rule
February 9, 2017

by Camila Domonoske

After President Trump blocked U.S. aid money from supporting any group that provides or "promotes" abortion in other countries, The Netherlands announced it would launch a fundraising initiative to support any affected organizations.

Now, several other countries — including Sweden, Finland, Belgium and Canada — have signaled their participation.

The "She Decides" fundraiser is the latest development in an international aid dispute that — as NPR's Nurith Aizenman explained — has been playing out for decades. It centers on the "Mexico City policy," which blocks U.S. aid from being sent to any international group that provides or "promotes" abortion. That can include providing information about abortion.

Continued at source: NPR: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/09/514371278/other-countries-aim-to-fill-aid-shortfall-caused-by-u-s-abortion-rule

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13 countries sign up to support Dutch safe abortion initiative

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13 countries sign up to support Dutch safe abortion initiative

February 4, 2017

So far 13 countries, including Canada, Finland, Luxembourg, Belgium and Sweden have signed up to support the Dutch safe abortion fund being set up to mitigate the effect of US president Donald Trump’s so-called ‘Global Gag Rule’ Dutch media reported.

Dutch aid minister Lilianne Ploumen told television chat show De Wereld Draait Door on Friday support for the initiative has come from around the globe.

Continued at link
Source, DutchNews.nl: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2017/02/13-countries-sign-up-to-support-dutch-safe-abortion-initiative/

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Belgium: Ecolo Party tables a bill to decriminalise abortion

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In 2016, Belgian politicians will (perhaps) finally decriminalise abortion in Belgium. Muriel Gerkens, member of the Ecolo (Green) Party, has tabled a bill to remove abortion from the Penal Code so that it is no longer regarded as a criminal offence. This is not the first attempt to do so, but maybe, says the author of this article, in 2016, its time has come.

Abortion is often attacked

The legislation concerning abortion is often attacked. Should it be punished more? Should certain conditions be modified so that, in some cases, the woman – and her entourage – are punished? The Ecolo party is against any such changes. “Every such attempt,” says Muriel Gerkens, “constitutes an infringement of the rights of women. They believe that in any case, abortion should not be punishable. It is therefore important to send a strong signal by strengthening the law.”

Notion of distress: out!

The bill also addresses the notion of distress. The current Belgian abortion law decriminalises abortion partially if a medical team recognises that the woman is in a “state of distress”. This notion of “distress” has been regularly subjected to debate. In 2014, it was considered too subjective, and that is also the opinion of the Ecolo Party. Only the medical staff are permitted to judge this state of distress and they cannot, Ecolo says, judge this in an objective manner. Therefore, their judgment is “exclusively a value judgment, which may not have a place in a legal arsenal where abortion is a duty of public health,” said Muriel Gerkens.

In Luxembourg, existing legislation says: “Any woman who faces an unwanted pregnancy is in a situation of distress.” In this sense, therefore, distress is “an intrinsic condition” in the face of an unwanted pregnancy, which cannot be subjected to “interpretation by others”.

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

Original source: Ecolo: 4 July 2016 ; PHOTO: Alamy, 2010

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