De liberalisering van abortus als strijdpunt in de Belgische politiek 1971-1990

Res Publica 32 (4):489-509 (1990)
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Abstract

In the spring of 1990, Belgian Parliament adopted a partial liberalization of abortion. Belgium is one of the last western countries to take such action. Public awareness on the issue fully developed in the early seventies, as abortion came to be regarded as a life-style issue. The rift between opponents and advocates of legal change coincides with the cleavage between catholics and non-believers in Belgian society, and this makes abortion a potentially disruptive issue for the political system. Therefore, Government avoided taking any decisions, and refered the question to a special commission, and later to Parliament. This resulted in a process of non-decisionmaking, which seems typical for the way a consensus democracy, like Belgium, tries to defuse highly disputed issues. The fact that abortion ultimately was partially liberalized, seems to reflect the dramatic changes that secularization bas brought to Belgian society the past decades.

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