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Humblet, Perrine C.; Vekemans, Marcel; & Buekens, Pierre (1996). Developments in Abortion Policy in a Context of Illegality: The Belgian Case from 1971 until 1990. European Journal of Public Health, 6(4), 288-293.


On 3 April 1990, a new abortion law was passed in Belgium, replacing the one from 1867. This change took approximately 20 years and resulted from a strong political debate, a number of proposals for legal reforms and from prosecutions of physicians, social workers and women having performed terminations of pregnancies (TOP). During this period, health professionals set up a sort of ‘illegal reform programme’. They were not only successful in organizing decentralized, accessible and non-profit TOP facilities, but also effective in producing the first data sets to monitor TOP requests in the country. In this way, they modified TOP medical activity and practice and participated greatly in changing abortion from a situation characterized by secrecy and danger before 1970, to a medical activity legalized after 1990. Legal TOP statistics published since 1990 cannot be explained without taking into account this period of transition where spedflc features of the following situation were prepared.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

European Journal of Public Health


Humblet, Perrine C.
Vekemans, Marcel
Buekens, Pierre