Vooruit has announced its party leaders for East Flanders. Chairman Conner Rousseau will draw the Flemish list himself, Freya Van den Bossche – today a Flemish Member of Parliament – will move to the federal level. She makes this switch in order to work on ethical dossiers such as euthanasia, abortion or surrogacy. The Flemish socialists say they are tired of the stagnation surrounding these themes and want to change that.
‘Everyone wants to grow old and die with dignity. Women should be able to decide when and if they want a child. These themes are under pressure worldwide,” said Rousseau, referring to Italy and the United States. ‘There are still steps to be taken in Belgium, a lot is at stake. In 2024 it will be with the extreme right or with Vooruit. With the extreme right we are going back to the Middle Ages. CD&V has negotiated a standstill.’
‘Voorvoor doesn’t want this any longer. Society has made further progress, but politics is lagging behind. We should be ahead of the curve,” Van den Bossche adds.
The party also wants to make progress on the euthanasia law. ‘It was progressive twenty years ago, but there was already a gap for people with a brain abnormality, dementia or after an accident. Today there are 200,000 people with dementia. If they live like a plant and they want to leave softly, they must either end the life early or refuse tube feeding and allow themselves to be starved. That has to change. People should be able to choose for themselves at what stage they no longer want to be there,” emphasizes Van den Bossche, who believes that the legislation must be amended.
Van den Bossche also points out that since 2014 there has been a parliamentary majority to change the abortion law – today the deadline is twelve weeks – but that has not been successful because the conservative parties blocked it. ‘After a report that CD&V requested, the party itself is still not in agreement. Women therefore have to go abroad and receive no support.’ She wants to extend the period to eighteen weeks, ‘not less’.
She also wants to abolish the statutory reflection period. ‘Why wait another six days. Anyone who knows what she wants should be able to make that decision,” says Van den Bossche. Finally, the right to abortion should also be constitutionally anchored. ‘There are now four countries where proposals are being submitted to restrict the right, two where it is already being taken away.’
And then there is surrogacy. ‘Since the late 1990s, people have been able to become parents through a surrogate mother, but the law has failed everyone. Protection for surrogate mother and parents must be provided. Everything must be recorded on paper: the child must automatically descend from prospective parents, even if they are two men. Women can already do that, gay men cannot yet.’
Van den Bossche wants to unite as many people as possible around these themes, for which she believes there is great support.
(more in a moment)