I was convicted by the Lord to speak out on life issues after the 1) horrible Gosnell case became known; 2) 40th Anniversary of Legalized Abortion in the USA; 3) President Obama was a keynote speaker for Planned Parenthood. This trifecta of darkness disheartened me so much I felt I should see what I could do personally and what my church was doing. I feel especially close to the issue as so many millions of my Generation X were killed in this unspeakable wicked act; I could no longer remain silent.
In my dismay about where abortion has brought us, I stumbled across the story of King Baudouin I of Belgium, who I’m so sorry to say died in 1993 – way too early. In 1990 when Belgium was presented with a law legalizing abortion, Baudouin (an amazing Christian along with his wife, Fabiola) refused to give royal ascent by his signature. He even had to mount a campaign asking if it was just for the King to be the only Belgian not permitted to act in accordance with his conscience. A political maneuver was devised by the Prime Minister to declare the King unable to rule, have the governing body act in his stead to give ascent and then declare him again able to rule. An albeit awkward yet effective device, no doubt.
Even Belgians who were for the law respected his resolute adherence to his deep faith. Many people have incorrectly attributed his refusal to the tragedy of five miscarriages suffered by his wife which left them childless, but that is not the reason at all, although that is heartbreaking given the beautiful nature and faith of this couple. No, the reason for this was he absolutely believed that life is to be cherished from beginning to end and that each life has value.
King Baudouin knew this implicitly. He had declared, “The child, because of his lack of physical and intellectual maturity, needs special protection, special care, especially legal protection before as well as after birth.” There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that King Baudouin would have been equally appalled by the notion of ending the gift of life through euthanasia, and the very notion of doing so to a living child would have been as unthinkable to him then as it should be to us today.
In the Evangelium vitæ n. 62 of Pope John Paul II, he writes, “No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.”
You know, the preeminent children’s hospital in Brussels is the Queen Fabiola Children’s University Hospital. What cruel twist of human failing would introduce the criminality of such an illicit act in an institution named for a devout outstanding Christian woman, one who lost five babies herself.
Sadly, the new monarch, King Philippe, so close to his uncle Baudouin and partially raised by Baudouin and Fabiola, had an outstanding opportunity to reflect the same brave dedication to faith shown by his uncle by refusing to provide royal ascent to the child euthanasia law, but did not act in kind. It would have been dramatic bookends, bracketing just how far down the path we’ve strayed from a basic respect for human life.
King Baudouin was a champion of life and still inspires us today to reach out in faith and love for the dignity and value of each life.