Physicians and other healthcare professionals in the Dutch-speaking regions of Belgium who are willing to do late abortions would also support the legalisation of infanticide, according to a survey published in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.
“Almost nine out of ten respondents (89.1%) [who do late-term terminations] agree that in the event of a serious (non‐lethal) neonatal condition, administering drugs with the explicit intention to end neonatal life is acceptable,” the authors write.
They also are relaxed about late-term abortions: “Even in situations with an unclear diagnosis and unpredictable prognosis, 85.6% of professionals would still consider late TOP.”
They go on to state that “most practitioners share the opinion that the law should be changed in order to facilitate neonatal end-of life decisions in serious conditions. This is a consideration that Belgian legislators should explore.”
Articles about bioethical issues in Belgium tend to skate over the significant cultural differences in this small but ethically influential country of 11 million people. It is divided into three regions: Flanders (Dutch-speaking), Wallonia (French-speaking), and Brussels (mixed). The population of Flanders constitutes about half of the population; Wallonia, one-third; and Brussels the rest. Flanders is wealthier.
One law governs the whole country, but attitudes towards abortion and euthanasia are markedly different. In Flanders they tend to follow the trend in neighbouring Netherlands.
An article published in 2011 observed that “Physicians from Wallonia more often agreed that they would under no circumstances perform euthanasia themselves and were more willing to perform continuous deep sedation instead of euthanasia than were those from Flanders and Brussels.”
The attitudes in the AOGS article came under fire from the bioethics correspondent at the National Review, Wesley J. Smith. “Such invidious attitudes were prevalent in the eugenics movement and are predictable social consequence of accepting euthanasia culturally,” he wrote.
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge
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