If the procedure is seen as merely a medical act, it also becomes a right, the prelates warn. And that could impinge on freedom of conscience.
Several left-wing and liberal parties in the Belgian parliament have proposed removing abortion from the criminal code and extending abortion’s legality to 18 or 20 weeks gestation. Currently, abortion is legal through the 12th week of gestation. The liberal parliamentarians also want to reduce a statutory time of reflection to 48 hours.
Anton de Wit, writing in Crux, explained that the current federal government of Belgium is a minority caretaker cabinet, and the influence of the Christian Democratic party is limited.
According to a November 12 statement signed by the bishops of Belgium, the proposed changes to the law mean not only a change in abortion practice, but also a change in the meaning of pregnancy interruption itself, Crux reported.
“Abortion becomes an ordinary medical intervention,” which doesn’t do justice “to what those involved experience,” according to the statement of the bishops, led by Cardinal Jozef De Kesel. “Why ask for advice or help any longer? The questions will not be taken seriously in the first place. It will only make the desperation and loneliness [of the women involved] greater.”
They also warn that the proposals will further restrict freedom of conscience.
“If abortion is seen as a medical act, it also becomes a right,” the bishops wrote. “Whoever questions or refuses an abortion will have to answer for it.
“But the rule of law guarantees protection of every person’s human dignity and physical integrity,” they continued. “Does that not also apply to a human life still growing toward birth? Why pretend it isn’t life yet—and why draw the line there? Why do these questions rarely if ever have a place in the debate?”
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