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Abortion Politics, Women's Movements, and the Democratic StateA Comparative Study of State Feminism$
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Dorothy McBride Stetson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199242665

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199242666.001.0001

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The Abortion Debates in Belgium 1974–1990

The Abortion Debates in Belgium 1974–1990

(p.39) 3 The Abortion Debates in Belgium 1974–1990
Abortion Politics, Women's Movements, and the Democratic State

Karen Celis

Oxford University Press

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

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