Statistics suggest that in their lifetime, up to one in five women will choose to end a pregnancy, for their own unique reason.
“They are mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, wives, aunties and grandmothers. They are politicians, lawyers, students, teenagers, nurses, police officers, women who ‘don’t believe in abortion’, waitresses, doctors, journalists, and dancers.
They come from many different religious and cultural backgrounds. They can be wealthy, getting by, or struggling financially. They are married, in long term relationships, single, divorced, having casual sex, or victims of sexual assualt. They usually share the belief that while the decision may have been difficult, they made the best choice at the time.”
Ending a pregnancy – the law in Belgium
Although ending a pregnancy has been legal in Belgium since 1990, it’s only thanks to the law of 15 October 2018 that it has been officially removed from the penal code.
- Before the end of the 12th week after conception (i.e. 14th week of amenorrhea / since the first day of the last period) a woman can choose to end her pregnancy for any reason.
However, there must be a 6-day ‘reflection period’ between the first appointment and the day of the procedure. This period can only be reduced if there is a medical urgency.
- After 12 weeks after conception, a pregnancy can only be ended in Belgium if the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life or if the baby is diagnosed with an incurable condition.
Emotional and psychological support
The decision to end a pregnancy often brings strong emotions, whether around the time of the procedure itself, or even later.
In fear of judgement, or of making others feel uncomfortable, many women suffer in silence.
Individual or group support
- An independent midwife is a good point of contact for holistic support before and after making the choice to end a pregnancy. This is also covered by the mutuelle.
- Some doulas offer support during this period.
- Community Help Services offer a helpline (+32 (0)2 648 40 14) as well as English-speaking psychologists, psychotherapists, bereavement counselors.
- The Brussels Childbirth Trust (BCT) has an ‘Experiences Register’ – this allows BCT members to be put in touch with other members who have experienced similar situations, and who can offer support and advice.
- Waterloo-based mum Joanne Fraser has set up a support group, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Belgium, for the loss of a pregnancy, stillbirth, infant death, conceiving or expecting after a loss.
The Children by Choice website provides a wealth of information for women who may need to end a pregnancy. In particular, this page may be of use for women who are struggling emotionally: https://www.childrenbychoice.org.au/forwomen/afteranabortion