A Need to Review Abortion Laws In Belgium

INTRODUCTION

The aim of writing this article is to encourage the long standing pro-life battle against abortion and protecting the rights of unborn babies to experience life on earth as nature permit it to be. Thousands of unborn babies are being aborted in Belgium by wicked mothers just by convincing the physician with any of those reason covered by the laws of which a woman can abort without facing any criminal charges. These laws have now given women the power and the licence to kill. Belgium is a small country of about ten million inhabitants, yet they make liberal laws that legalize the evil act of abortion to any woman whosoever desire to terminate her pregnancy. This is not family planning or birth control. In this article, I will like to define the term abortion in my words and understanding as a non-medical official.

ABORTION: Abortion is a cruel, immoral and unacceptable act of procedure by killing an unborn baby in the womb of a woman with the aid of conscienceless medical professionals and other individuals including the woman herself, preventing the unborn baby from coming into the world on time, alive and by birth.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ABORTION LAWS IN BELGIUM

Abortion laws in Belgium were significantly liberalized on the 3rd of April 1990, when the Belgian parliament approved a law amending the 1861 penal code. Under the abortion provisions of that code, which where based on the Napoleonic penal code of 1810, adopted by Belgium upon independence, no stated exceptions to a general prohibition of the performance of abortions where included, although the general principle of criminal legislation allowed abortion to be performed to save life of pregnant woman and the grounds of necessity. In such case, the medical code required that three physicians agree that a state of necessity existed and that the abortion be performed in an approved institution or hospital with informed consent of the pregnant woman.

Transgression of the law was severely punished. An additional law enacted in 1923 added language to the penal code prohibiting the provision of information concerning abortion. Attempts to liberalize the abortion law in Belgium began in 1971. From that time until the law of April 1990 was enacted, dozens of legislative proposals permitting abortion to be performed under various circumstances were introduced, always to be rejected or allowed to expire. Although the law remains unchanged prosecution was rare and those prosecuted were given short or suspended sentences or in some cases acquitted.

The 1990 law permit abortion to be performed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy when a woman who is "in a state of distress as a result of her situation" requests a physician to terminate her pregnancy. The woman is the sole judge of whether she is distressed or not. Aside from informing the woman as to the risk of undergoing the procedure and various possibilities for caring of the child if born, the physician only needs to be convinced by the pregnant woman's determination to terminate her pregnancy.

After 12 weeks pregnancy, an abortion may be performed if only two physicians agree that the continuance of the pregnancy would gravely endanger the woman's health or when it is certain that the child, if born, would be affected by a particular serious pathological condition, recognized as incurable at the time of diagnosis. All abortions must be performed by a physician under good medical conditions, in a health-care establishment that has an information department that provides the woman seeking abortion with detailed information regarding the rights and benefits guaranteed by the law to families, unmarried and married mothers and their children, as well as the possibilities offered by adoption of the child if born.

Abortion may be performed 6 days following the woman's counselling, at the earliest. She must certify in writing, on the date of the intervention, that she is determined to terminate her pregnancy. Anyone performing illegal abortion is subjected to imprisonment for 3 months to 1 year and pay a fine of 200 to 500 Belgian Francs which is about 12? maximum in Belgium today, under section 350 of the penal code. A woman voluntarily obtaining an illegal abortion is subjected for 1 to 12 months imprisonment and pay the fine of 50 to 200 Belgian Francs which is about 4.50 ? maximum (section 351). If the illegal abortion results to a woman's death, the person performing the abortion is subjected to solitary confinement if the woman consented and 10 to 15 years with forced labour if the woman did not. (U.N., 2002)

GROUNDS ON WHICH ABORTION IS PERMITED IN BELGIUM

1) To save the life of the pregnant woman
2) To preserve physical health
3) To preserve mental health
4) When pregnancy occurs during rape or incest
5) Foetal impairment
6) Economic or social reason
7) Available on request (U.N., 2002)

The Belgian law on abortion is too liberal, and the punishment for performing illegal abortion is not worth the crime except if the woman dies during the process. I think that there are psychologists who can determine if a pregnant woman is distressed or not. Committing a sinful act by aborting an unborn baby with reasons such as: (a)economic or social reasons (b) available on the woman's request and (c) distress, is to my view bullshit.

In the year 2001, there were 14,775 so called legal abortions, which sum to 11.3% nation wide (Johnston, 2004). Can you imagine thousands of unborn babies being destroyed just by requests from the women and with the help of professional medical doctors? Is this not pure wickedness towards mankind? Of course it is!

According to the United Nations Population Division, department of economics and social affairs report in the year 2002, Belgium government does not even have an official document in their view of the fertility level and no interventions concerning fertility. The total fertility rate in Belgium from 1995 to 2000 was only 1.6% and the government policy on contraceptive use provided is only being supported indirectly. Yet law makers will congratulate themselves at the parliament for jobs well done.

The 1993 Polish law on family planning enforced from March 16, 1993 on human embryo protection and condition of legal abortion which some people criticised Poland, saying it is an anti abortion law. I find this law a very good law that only permits abortion due to the following cases:

1) When pregnancy constitutes a threat to life or a serious threat to the health of the mother, which is confirmed by two doctors other than the doctor involved in the abortion.

2) When there is justified suspicion, confirmed by a prosecutor that the pregnancy is as a result of an illegal act.

3) When prenatal examination, confirmed by two doctors other than the doctor involved in the abortion indicate grave irreversible damage of the embryo.

4) A doctor who performs an illegal abortion is subjected to 2 years of imprisonment, and any abortion should be performed in a public hospital.

Comparing the Polish law to the Belgian law on abortion, the Polish law is far better because it fights for the rights of unborn babies who are being slain every day as well as the rights to save the woman's life from threatening and unhealthy situations before delivery, while the Belgian law on abortion is merely giving a woman the power to destroy the foetus according to her determination and judgment. I hope Belgian law makers will try to review this liberal law especially the law that gives a woman the right to decide or judge whether she is distressed or not. Specialized medical doctors and psychologists should conduct proper tests and interviews to determine the distress of a pregnant woman and not the woman herself.

Killing unborn babies because of economic or social reason and distress may be applied notwithstanding after deep consideration only to women in developing countries where there are no social benefits, poor leaving conditions, and not in developed countries. Belgium has a lot of social facilities including counselling services, motherless children homes and other financial and social benefits which comes from the CPAS (Centre Public d'Action Sociale) to help bring up children comfortably if delivered by mothers with social and economic problems. I believe more social services should be created and financed by the government to avoid the destruction of unborn babies in the future, so that there will be no grounds for abortion due to social and economic problems.

In my country Cameroon, I've witnessed a healthy baby delivered by a completely mad woman, and this child grew up helping her mad mother everyday for her clothing and feeding. If this could happen in a developing country without abortion, why not in Belgium? Let's narrow it down to mental health in the psychological sense as defined by the UN World Health Organisation as one of the reasons for abortion, and ask "are there mental reasons for abortion?" No!

THE EFFECTS OF ABORTION

I will consider the effects of abortion in two ways (1) Psychological side effects and (2) Health effect of abortion.

Psychological side effect When a woman seeks abortion because of mental health problems, she is more likely to experience post-abortion emotional and psychological problems than a more stable woman. All these support the original official statement of the World Health Organisation in 1970 stating that serious mental disorders arise more often in women with previous mental problems. Thus the very women for whom legal abortion is considered justified on psychiatric grounds are the ones who have the highest risk of post-abortion psychiatric disorders. Then is "mental illness" as a reason for abortion is just an excuse? Precisely. (Willke, 1998).

In a study that was conducted by Dr. Anne Speckhard at the University of Minnesota, she found out that after 5 to 10 years, 54 % of mothers choosing abortion had nightmares, 81% had pre-occupation with their aborted child, 35% had perceived visitations with their child and 96% felt they had taken a human life.

It is becoming common for people to sue public and private bodies for the psychological effects of their experiences. Cases where litigant (often successful) make claims on grounds that post-traumatic stress, or simply "stress", means that compensation based on harm to our minds has taken place alongside compensation based on physical harm (Lee, 2002). The question is why do these mothers often get worried after committing abortion? They are not just worried about suing an institution and claiming compensation for the after effects, but they are worried because they have taken away human life and they can't easily walk away from the divine justice of God. So, it is just they suffer.

Health effect

(a) One of the many abortion related health problems is that of sterility. The chances of not being able to bear feature children increase after abortion. In a study performed with 252 women, the investigators concluded that the occurrence of either induced or spontaneous abortions independently and significantly increase the risk of subsequent development of secondary infertility (Tzonou et al., 1993).

(b) Abortion results to cervical damage, which results in permanent weakening of the cervix, which, in turn is unable to carry the weight of a later pregnancy. The cervix opens prematurely (Ren, 1993).

(c) The fallopian tube is a fragile organ, if infection injures it, it often seals shut. A typical infection involving this organ is the pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).This disease is difficult to manage and often leads to infertility, even with prompt treatment. Approximately 10% of women will develop tubal adhesion leading to infertility after one of PID, 30% after two episodes, and more than 60% after three episodes. (M. Spence in Sexually Transmitted Disease Bulletin, John Hopkins University).

(d) 5 to 10 % of women who abort will get sterile (Hilgers, 1976).

Health researchers are noting a dramatic rise in sterility, tubal pregnancies and placenta previa. Venderbilt University medical centre noted an increase in placenta previa, a condition in pregnancy where the placenta covers the opening of the womb. This can lead to great blood loss to the mother during labour. It can cause death to the mother and the baby. Doctors on staff looked into the increase of this condition and found its cause to be the increase of legal abortions. The study concluded that aborted women were 7 to 15 times more likely to get placenta previa in later pregnancies (Barett, 1981). Abortion also affects males because boys can be easily aborted than girls. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of males are aborted every year, these are boys with whom adult males can associate. Men where once there and they will protect their past to ensure their feature (http://www.abortioninfo.net/facts/affect3.shtml).

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH'S VIEWS ON ABORTION

The Catholic Church has always condemned abortion as a grave evil. The Great spiritual head of the Catholic Church declared that the church's teachings on abortion are unchanged and unchangeable. Therefore by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his successors, I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitute a grave moral disorder, since it's a deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural laws and the written words of God. (Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae, "The Gospel of Life").

Basil The Great stated that let her that procures abortion undergo 10 years penance, whether the embryo were perfectly formed or not (First Canonical Letter, canon 2 [A.D. 374]). According to The Apostolic Constitution, thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten? If it be slain, it shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed. "The doctors who perform abortions all knew well enough that a living being had been conceived, and they pitied this most luckless infant state, which had first to be put to death, to escape being tortured alive" (Apostolic Constitutions 7:3 [A.D. 400]).

CONCLUSION AND RECOMENDATION

In my opinion, there is no good faith that will preach abortion as the right thing for a woman to do. As a Christian I do know that abortion is a sin. But if need be to save the life of the woman and nothing more, then this should happen only after all other means to save her life has failed. It should be done with deep sorrow because the foetus is a living being. Those who say abortion is safer than life birth are all liars who deceive people. They know about the risk and the after effects of abortion, but they keep down playing it just to convince others to accept their own beliefs. If a child should be born paralyzed or seriously sick as diagnosed by medical doctors, let that child be born. That sickness may be treated or cured in years to come after birth, who knows?

A lot of children have been killed because of false diagnosis from doctors who later accept they were fatal mistakes. What about a woman who has been proclaimed sterile by doctors, only to become pregnant in due time? Doctors are not God. Nowadays it is encouraged by some people including the Belgian government that abortion should be performed when a woman has economic or social problems, distress or on the woman's request. These reasons do not consider of the unborn baby's right to live. Those who ignore all natural and religious laws, encouraging the abortion campaign as the right of a woman should immediately reflect again on the value of human life as they read this article.

The ethics or moral principles of a medical doctor are to save life and not to destroy life. No doubt scientists are desperate in cloning human beings rather than saving unborn babies. If governments could spend billions of dollars in protecting endangered animals such tigers and elephants in Africa and other parts of the world, what about protecting unborn babies in the womb of a woman which cost little or no dollar? The wickedness of man and the misuse of science and technology for abortion and cloning of human beings may one day turn to harm the human race. It can be predicted that the indigenous Belgian population will dramatically reduce in the next 25-30 years. Why? According to my experience, young strong and healthy Belgian couples with good careers will prefer to live with dogs rather than to deliver a child. Furthermore, in 1995-2000, Belgium suffered a low fertility rate of just 1.6%. If this continues what do you think will happen? There will be a dramatic population fall. Add graph

Since life is precious to everyone, there are reasons for unborn babies in the womb to be protected and honoured. The Belgian liberal abortion laws should be reviewed and restricted like that of Poland because these have got something to do with human life and all doctors in Belgium should respect the conscience clauses, that permit medical providers or institutions to refuse to provide certain health services based on religious or moral objections. They shield providers from liability for refusing to offer services that their patients are otherwise legally entitled to receive. Reproductive health-care provides most commonly invoke conscience clauses in refusing to provide abortion and contraceptive sterilization service.

As a matter of conscience, the former King of Belgium, a Catholic, King Badouin's refusal to sign the bill legalizing abortion created constitutional crises. In the end the king was ousted and all members of the government signed the bill. Yet the very next day, desperate for the King's moral leadership, the government voted him back as head of state. Such examples remind us that we ought never to capitulate. Our moral leadership often times does not go unnoticed (Meaney, 2004)

The conception to new life is God's most precious gift to humankind. Even though there are many forces in our culture that refuse to acknowledge that life in the womb is a developing person, life begins in the womb. If that is denied, the repercussions destroy the very fabric of society. Where would our civilization be if people like Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Gandi, Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Edison just to mention a few, had been destroyed in the womb? Despite all our scientific , educational and technological advances, I think the future generations will look back on this era as one of the darkest, because of the whole sale murder of unborn children who should be welcomed as our hope for the feature, are now calculated as liabilities, risk and burdens (Arnold, 2005)

Anyone who has persevered in the pro-life mission for a long time knows that we do not fight against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers of darkness (Euteneur, 2004). In October 1980, an American feminist Gloria Steinem wrote that Hitler himself and the Nazis doctrine he created, where unequivocally opposed to any individual right to abortion.

To end this article, I will recommend and appeal to the Belgian law makers that giving women the ability to abort unborn babies with reasons such as economic or social reasons, on the woman's, distress and even the right to judge her distress condition according to the Belgian law, should be wiped out. It is best that only specialized medical doctors and psychologists should determine the distress of women in order to treat them medically and psychologically. Stress does not call for any abortion because it can be treated. Belgium needs more strict laws on abortion to guarantee the existence of her feature fragile nation or if not, there will be a dramatic population fall in 25-30 years to come. There is a great need for the Belgian abortion law to be reviewed.

REFERENCES

Arnold, J.C. Finding Common Grounds in Abortion War. Bruderhofs Communities 2005. http://www.christopharnold.com/articles/jca/abortionwars.htm

Barett J.M., et al., 1981. Abortion Related Complications-Sterility. American Journal of Obstertrics and Gynaecology. Page 669,722.

Euteneur T., 2004. Report by Rev. Euteneur, President Human Life International, Prayer at The Center of HLI's Mission. http://www.hli.org/sr_3_2004.html#prayer

Johnston R.W., 2005. Historic Abortion Statistics Belgium. http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/ab-belgium.html

Lee E., 14 June 2002. Abortion, mental distress and litigation. Opinion, comment and reviews of Psychological & Reproductive choice. http://www.prochoiceforum.org.uk/psy_ocr5.asp

Meaney J., 2004. Report by Joseph Meaney, director of international coordinator Human Life International. Special report. HLI Publications. http://www.hli.org/sr_3_2004.html#counseling

Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae ("The Gospel of Life")

Ren, 1993. Cervical Incompetence - Aetiology and Management. Medical Journal of Australia (December 29, 1993), Volume 60.

Thomas Hilgers, 1976. Induced Abortion, A documented Report 1976.

Tzonou A., Hsieh C., Trichopoulos D., Aravandinos D., Kalandidi A., Margaris D., Goldman M. and Toupadaki N., 1993. Induced abortions, miscarriages, and tobacco smoking as risk factors for secondary infertility. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Vol 47, 36-39.

United Nations Abortion Policies. A Global Review 2002. United Nations Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2002. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/abortion/

Willke & Willke J.C., 1998. Why Can't We Love Them Both. Chapter 9. Heritage House 76 Inc. http://www.abortionfacts.com/online_books/love_them_both/why_cant_we_love_them_both_9.asp

Name : Rickcord Nakake Ngambi
Place of birth: Bota-Limbe
South West Province
Cameroon.
Resident: Rue de l'Egalité 16
1040 Etterbeek
Bruxelles-Belgique.

E-mail: [email protected]
Tel: +32484964487

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