Abortion legislation

Legislation timeline

  • 1990: Abortion is allowed (Law on termination of pregnancy dated 03 April) and a National Evaluation Committee is created (Law dated 13 August)
  • 2018: Abortion is out of the penal code (Law on termination of pregnancy dated 15 October)

Source: Belgisch Staatsblad / Moniteur Belge (http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi_loi/change_lg.pl?language=fr&la=F&cn=2018101503&table_name=loi), IPPF European Network - Updated January 2012 (http://www.ippfen.org/), SENSOA (https://www.sensoa.be/), Fédération Laïque de Centres de Planning Familial (FLCPF) (https://www.planningfamilial.net), LUNA (www.abortus.be)

Abortion conditions

Ground Gestational limit
To save a woman’s life No limit
Because of foetal impairment No limit
To preserve a woman’s mental health
To preserve a woman’s physical health
For economic and social reasons
On request 14 weeks from LMP*

*Provided a state of distress is identified by the woman

Source: Belgisch Staatsblad / Moniteur Belge (http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi_loi/change_lg.pl?language=fr&la=F&cn=2018101503&table_name=loi), IPPF European Network - Updated January 2012 (http://www.ippfen.org/), SENSOA (https://www.sensoa.be/), Fédération Laïque de Centres de Planning Familial (FLCPF) (https://www.planningfamilial.net), LUNA (www.abortus.be)

Legal conditions

  • Written consent by the woman
  • Pre-abortion consultation (legal counselling)
  • Pre-abortion consultation with a social worker
  • Pre-abortion confirmation consultation
  • Mandatory 6-day period between counselling and abortion procedure (It can be added to the 14 weeks from LMP limit in case the woman shows late in her pregnancy)
  • Contraception evoked during at least 1 of the medical consultations
  • Counselling has to be in the same place as abortion.

Specific conditions for minors

  • None

Source:

  • IPPF European Network – Updated January 2012 (http://www.ippfen.org/)
  • SENSOA (https://www.sensoa.be/)
  • Fédération Laïque de Centres de Planning Familial (FLCPF) (https://www.planningfamilial.net)
  • LUNA (www.abortus.be)

Practical conditions

Medical abortion conditions

Place Prescription 1st drug taken 2nd drug taken
OB/GYN department of a hospital/clinic Yes Yes Yes
Another physician office No No No
Midwife office No No No
Abortion centre/clinic Yes Yes Yes
At home No No No

Source: Belgisch Staatsblad / Moniteur Belge (http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi_loi/change_lg.pl?language=fr&la=F&cn=2018101503&table_name=loi), IPPF European Network - Updated January 2012 (http://www.ippfen.org/), SENSOA (https://www.sensoa.be/), Fédération Laïque de Centres de Planning Familial (FLCPF) (https://www.planningfamilial.net), LUNA (www.abortus.be)

Mandatory pre-abortion examinations

  • None

Involved healthcare professionals

  • Surgical abortion: obstetrician/gynaecologist (OB/GYN) or general practitioner (GP)
  • Medical abortion: OB/GYN or another physician

Source:

  • IPPF European Network – Updated January 2012 (http://www.ippfen.org/)
  • SENSOA (https://www.sensoa.be/)
  • Fédération Laïque de Centres de Planning Familial (FLCPF) (https://www.planningfamilial.net)
  • LUNA (www.abortus.be)

Abortion statistics

Abortion rates per 1,000 women aged 15-49

Source: https://organesdeconcertation.sante.belgique.be/sites/default/files/documents/rapport_2020-2021_fr_-_fevrier_2023.pdf

women aged 15-44

Overall number of induced abortions

Source: https://organesdeconcertation.sante.belgique.be/sites/default/files/documents/rapport_2020-2021_fr_-_fevrier_2023.pdf

Abortion ratio per 1.000 live births: ()

Source:

Abortions performed “on request”: % ()

Source:

Overall number of induced abortions vs. medical abortions

Source: https://organesdeconcertation.sante.belgique.be/sites/default/files/documents/rapport_2020-2021_fr_-_fevrier_2023.pdf

Induced abortions per gestational age (2021)

Source: https://organesdeconcertation.sante.belgique.be/sites/default/files/documents/rapport_2020-2021_fr_-_fevrier_2023.pdf

Place of abortion (2021)

Source: https://organesdeconcertation.sante.belgique.be/sites/default/files/documents/rapport_2020-2021_fr_-_fevrier_2023.pdf

Characteristics of women having induced abortion

Distribution of induced abortion according to women age (2021)

Source: https://organesdeconcertation.sante.belgique.be/fr/documents/rapport-lattention-du-parlement-1-janvier-2020-31-decembre-2021

In 2021, among women who had induced abortion:

  • 99% lived in Belgium
  • 57% had at least 1 child

Source:

  • https://organesdeconcertation.sante.belgique.be/fr/documents/rapport-lattention-du-parlement-1-janvier-2020-31-decembre-2021

Fertility and contraception

Fertility rates in women aged 15-49

Source: https://statbel.fgov.be/fr/themes/population/naissances-et-fecondite#figures

Women age at first birth

  • 29,3 years of age (2020)

Overall contraception data

  • 56% of women aged 15-49 used a contraceptive method (2021)
  • 44% used oral contraceptive
  • 2% used intra-uterine device (IUD).

Pre-abortion contraception

  • 56% of women had a contraceptive method prescribed during abortion process (2017)
  • 1,15 % of women had long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) prescribed during abortion process (2017)

Contraception during abortion process

Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) prescribed during abortion process can be placed in abortion facilities:

  • IUDs are placed 0 to 14 days after abortion procedure
  • Implants are placed 0 to 14 days after abortion procedure

Source:

  • https://statbel.fgov.be/fr/nouvelles/une-mere-en-moyenne-31-ans-la-naissance-de-son-enfant
  • https://organesdeconcertation.sante.belgique.be/sites/default/files/documents/rapport_2020-2021_fr_-_fevrier_2023.pdf
  • Report Nationale Evaluatiecommissie zwangerschapsafbreking – tweejaarlijks verslag,2020
  • LUNA (https://www.abortus.be/)(IUD).

Country-specific characteristics

  • Counselling has to be in the same place as abortion
  • Abortion is not taught during health care professionals’ (HCPs’) medical studies.
  • All HCPs have the right to conscientiously object, but they are required to immediately inform the woman and give her contact details of abortion providers. Moreover, they also have to hand over woman’s medical details to that provider, if requested.
  • Both surgical and medical abortions are reimbursed to resident women; they only have to pay €3.60. Non-resident women have to pay €500.

Source:

  • IPPF European Network – Updated January 2012 (http://www.ippfen.org/)
  • SENSOA (https://www.sensoa.be/)
  • Fédération Laïque de Centres de Planning Familial (FLCPF) (https://www.planningfamilial.net)
  • LUNA (www.abortus.be)

Download statistics of Belgium

The statistics presented are freely accessible and may be used, copied, displayed or distributed provided that their source is given. You can choose whether you prefer to download the statistics of the last 10 years or the full data set. Press one of the buttons to generate a report in PDF format for this country.

Abbreviations: EFTA = European Free Trade Association | EU = European Union | IUD = intra-uterine device | LARC = long-acting reversible contraception | LMP = last menstruation period | GYN = gynaecologist | HCP = health care professional | hCG = human chorionic gonadotropin | HIV = human immunodeficiency virus | OB = obstetrician | Rh = Rhesus | US = ultrasound

A special thanks to our correspondents for contributing in data collection.
Please contact info@exelgyn.com if you have additional data or would like to comment information

Page last updated: 10 November 2023