In early April King Baudouin of Belgium was forced to abdicate for 48 hours. The government used this time to go through a constitutional signing procedure invented for the occasion to circumvent the need for obtaining a royal signature on the bill legalizing abortion; the King had refused to sign. Thus the world was given another example of how legalizing the killing of the unborn affects every aspect of society.
On Friday, March 30, 1990, King Baudouin told Belgium’s Prime Minister Wilfried Martens that he couldn’t sign the new abortion bill passed by parliament in the previous week.
Unlike most of his countrymen, the King and his (Spanish) wife Fabiola, are practicing Catholics, part of the 10 to15 percent of Belgians who are committed Catholics, with another large percentage thoroughly secularized and agnostic, as they have been since the French revolution.
According to La Libre Belgique (April 5, 1990) the Cabinet met in several secret emergency sessions to consider alternatives to the King’s refusal. One of them was to force the King to abdicate, but apparently that was thought to be too dangerous.
The Kong told the Belgian Prime Minister that he could not and would not act against his conscience. Abortion, he declared is morally unacceptable.
The Bill permits abortion on demand though, technically speaking, abortions are restricted to the first 12 weeks only.
On April 3 the Cabinet announced its “solution.” It would temporarily suspend the King as head of state under article 82 of the constitution. This clause provides for alternative signing powers when “the King is unable to rule,” as in cases when he is incapacitated by illness or insanity.”
A press release was worded to say that the Cabinet acted on the request of the King. But this must be understood with the necessary reservations. There is no doubt whatever that the King continued to refuse, when pressed to sign, and that the “solution” of suspending him was forced upon him by the centre-left Cabinet.
After signing the Bill himself, Mr. Martens recalled both houses of parliament from an Easter recess to restore the King to the throne.
The Belgian bishops had denounced the bill earlier. In Canada, Campaign Life Coalition sent the King a telegram on March 30 encouraging him to stand fast.
As noted, the moral of the story is evident: abortion corrupts absolutely. In a country of political instability (Marten’s government is number 34 since 1945), the role of the constitutional monarchy has been undermined; respect for politicians has sunk even further; and a new form of bitter ideological warfare has been opened up. Needless to say, the right-to-kill supporters are jubilant. Now only two countries in Western Europe still ban abortion: Ireland and Malta.