The news about abortion and euthanasia in Belgium

The Belgian Medical Association Sint-Luke regrets the tendencies in our society that seem to further undermine respect for human life. She points to the social discussions about the depenalisation of abortion and the threatening violation of the right of care institutions to exclude euthanasia within their walls.

Humanity in general and every actor in society is called to receive life as a gift, a precious gift that can reasonably only be traced back to a transcendent Giver of life. If this applies to every life on earth, how much more does that apply to human life, which has the unique property of gaining access to the transcendence through the mind, to the domain of the divine, to the God who revealed himself in Christ. Every man, from the very beginning to the end of his days, has been called to enter into this reality during his life and beyond the limit of natural death, and derive the meaning of his existence from it.

Only a culture that lives as if God does not exist can afford to make himself a master of life, including that of man. However, this is at the expense of respect for life and does not take into account the ‘supernatural’ dimension of human existence. As a result, this culture makes a fatal mistake that has consequences, not only for the culture itself, but also for man in terms of his eternal destiny. There are no good reasons to justify the reduction of human existence to a purely biological being and to limit our care to the psychosomatic. Humanity is too much characterized by its longing for and the experience of the existence of a higher reality. Let us then consider man, at every stage of his existence, also as an icon of the higher, of the Supreme, and take into consideration in our ethical consideration Him who says: ‘Thou shalt not kill’.

Also the physician is not called to serve man differently than with respect for his physical and spiritual life. The doctor is there to serve the life of his patient, of the whole person, and not to end it for whatever reason. He not only has the interest of the expectant mother in mind, but also that of the unborn child. He has the care of his patient, curative and palliative, but never the right to knowingly eliminate the patient with the pain.

Health care institutions, especially the Christian ones, have the duty to guarantee the best care for their patients and residents and this necessarily excludes their elimination. One does not care for someone by killing him or her. Pain relief should never have a shortening of life as its goal, but at the very most accept this as an undesired and unprovoked consequence.

It is therefore inappropriate to require residential care centers to allow euthanasia. In a pluralistic society there must be room for care institutions where the patient or resident is certain that his or her life will never be deliberately terminated. If this free space is threatened, this means a violation of religious freedom in our country, and a dictatorial imposition – even if this is decided by democratic means – of a secular, purely materialistic vision of the world and the human being.

The Belgian Physicians Association St.-Lucas rejects this world view, but opts for health care workers who only want to serve life.

Vincent Kemme
Chief editor
Acta Medica Catholica