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HET LAATSTE NIEUWS (Belgium), THE SCOTSMAN (UK)

Worldcrunch

After Catalonia stepped up its bid to secession, separatist parties in Belgium and the United Kingdom have made major gains amid a crisis-hit Europe.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is set to meet Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond in Edinburgh Monday to sign a historic deal that will transfer the rights to Scotland to hold a referendum on independence.

The right to referendum will be valid until the end of 2014 and will be framed as a strict "yes or no" question on Scottish independence.

Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party, is also seeking to accord 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in the referendum, even though 18 is the legal voting age across the United Kingdom.

The Scotsman reported that Prime Minister David Cameron said, “This marks the beginning of an important chapter in Scotland’s story and allows the real debate to begin.

“It paves the way so that the biggest question of all can be settled: a separate Scotland or a United Kingdom? I will be making a very positive argument for our United Kingdom.”

64% of Scots believe Scottish Govt is better at making decisions for Scotland. Only 24% think UK Govt is. #indyrefdailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/…

— Kevin Pringle (@KevinJPringle) October 14, 2012

In Belgium, the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) made sweeping gains throughout the wealthy, Dutch-speaking part of Belgium in Sunday's municipal elections.

The party's leader, Bart de Wever, who wants to split Flanders from the economically ailing, French-speaking Wallonia, has been elected as the next mayor of Antwerp with 37.7% of the vote, according to Flemish daily Het Laatste Nieuws.

Walloon press: Bart De Wever is now in charge of the Flemish express-train and the destination isn't #Belgium

— Thomas Moens (@TMoens) October 15, 2012

De Wever's victory is likely to have a major impact on national politics in Belgium, as his newfound power base could be key in seeking wider autonomy. He hopes to further the center-right party's popularity in the national elections in 2014.

In a victory speech, De Wever called on Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo to immediately give more self-governing rights to Flanders.

In the Flemish daily Het Laatste Nieuws's editorial Monday, Luc van der Kelen wrote: "For the largest city in Flanders, this Sunday was a key historic moment. De Wever has put an end to 70 years of having a socialist mayor, he has put an end to Filip Dewinter and the extreme-right that has shamed Antwerp for 24 years."

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Society

A Closer Look At "The French Roe" And The State Of Abortion Rights In France

In 1972, Marie-Claire Chevalier's trial paved the way for the legalization of abortion in France, much like Roe v. Wade did in the U.S. soon after. But as the Supreme Court overturned this landmark decision on the other side of the Atlantic, where do abortion rights now stand in France?

Lawyer Gisèle Halimi accompanies Marie-Claire Chevalier at the Bobigny trial in 1972.

Lila Paulou

PARIS — When Marie-Claire Chevalier died in January, French newspapers described her role in the struggle for abortion rights as an important part of what’s become the rather distant past. Yet since the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade in the United States, Chevalier’s story has returned to the present tense.

A high school student in 1971, Chevalier was raped by a classmate, and faced an unwanted pregnancy. With the help of her mother and three other women, the 16-year-old obtained an abortion, which was illegal in France. With all five women facing arrest, Marie-Claire’s mother Michèle decided to contact French-Tunisian lawyer Gisèle Halimi who had defended an Algerian activist raped and tortured by French soldiers in a high-profile case.

Marie-Claire bravely agreed to turn her trial into a platform for all women prosecuted for seeking an abortion. Major social figures testified on her behalf, from feminist activist Simone de Beauvoir to acclaimed poet Aimé Césaire. The prominent Catholic doctor Paul Milliez, said, “I do not see why us, Catholics, should impose our moral to all French people.”

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