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    Deze analyse bespreekt uitvoerig de argumenten van voor- en tegenstanders van het wetsvoorstel ter versoepeling van de Belgische abortuswetgeving (2019-…). Het fel bediscussieerde wetsvoorstel beoogt het zelfbeschikkingsrecht van de zwangere persoon uit te breiden en abortus te destigmatiseren. Door vrijwillige zwangerschapsafbreking als gezondheidszorg te kwalificeren geven de indieners van het wetsvoorstel tevens de voorkeur aan een gezondheidsrechtelijk traject op maat van de zwangere persoon als patiënt. De inkorting van de wachtperiode-en het schrappen van abortusspecifieke informatieverplichtingen geven in die zin blijk van vertrouwen in de zwangere persoon, in het kwalitatief handelen van de zorgverlener en in de waarborgen die het gezondheidsrecht reeds biedt. De wetgever dient met andere woorden uit te maken (1) welke regels hij in de context van abortus nodig acht, (2) of deze regels reeds worden gewaarborgd door de algemene gezondheidswetten- en deontologie, en (3) of de vooropgestelde regels hun doel bereiken. Een uitbreiding van het zelfbeschikkingsrecht van de zwangere persoon wordt tevens bewerkstelligd door de termijnuitbreiding van twaalf naar achttien weken voor abortus op verzoek. Een keuze voor een termijn is steeds in zekere mate willekeurig, doch reflecteert een beleidsethische keuze waarbij wordt gezocht naar een evenwicht tussen de bescherming van ongeboren leven en het zelfbeschikkingsrecht van de zwangere persoon. Praktische bekommernissen vormen hierbij geen fundamenteel bezwaar tegen een termijnuitbreiding maar dienen, in overleg met de betrokken sector, te worden geanticipeerd en maximaal te worden opgevangen door middel van organisatorische (niet-noodzakelijk juridische) initiatieven. Ten slotte beogen de indieners van het wetsvoorstel opheffing van alle strafsancties voor vrijwillige zwangerschapsafbreking. Op rechtstheoretisch vlak blijven echter vragen bestaan omtrent de manier waarop dit voorstel een volledige depenalisering doorvoert. Hoewel het tuchtrecht enige rol kan spelen bij gebrek aan strafsancties, creëert de vooropgestelde depenalisering van ongeoorloofde zwangerschapsafbreking door een arts een rechtsonzekere situatie.
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    This analysis extensively discusses the arguments of supporters and opponents of the legislative proposal to relax the Belgian abortion legislation (2019-…). The heavily debated proposal primarily aims to expand the pregnant person’s right to self-determination and to destigmatise abortion. By qualifying consensual termination of pregnancy as health care, the supporters of the proposal also prioritise an individualised, health-oriented approach towards the pregnant person as patient. In the same vein, the diminished waiting period and the removal of abortion-specific information duties express trust in the pregnant person, in the qualitative conduct of the health care provider, and in the guarantees that the health law already provides. In other words, the legislator must determine 1) which regulations it deems necessary in the context of abortion, 2) whether these regulations are already guaranteed by general health laws and ethics, and 3) whether the proposed regulations achieve their intended purpose. An expansion of the pregnant person’s right to self-determination is also achieved by the extension from twelve to eighteen weeks as a limit for abortion on request. Although a time limit is always arbitrary to some extent, it mainly reflects a policy-ethical decision in which a balance is sought between the protection of unborn life and the pregnant person’s right to self-determination. Practical concerns do not establish a fundamental objection to the extension of such limit, but must, in consultation with the medical profession, be anticipated and dealt with as much as possible by means of organisational (not necessarily legal) initiatives. Finally, the proposal lifts all criminal sanctions currently applicable to consensual termination of pregnancy. On a legal-theoretical level, however, questions remain about the way in which the proposal implements full depenalisation. Although disciplinary law can play some role in the absence of criminal sanctions, the depenalisation of unlawful termination of pregnancy by a health care professional produces legal uncertainty.


F. De Meyer
Fien De Meyer doet doctoraatsonderzoek naar regelgeving inzake abortus aan de Universiteit van Antwerpen.

C. De Mulder
Charlotte De Mulder doet doctoraatsonderzoek naar het statuut van ongeboren leven aan de Universiteit van Antwerpen.
Article

Access_open Enhanced Contact Rights for Grandparents? A Critical View from Spanish and Catalan Laws

Keywords Contact with grandchildren, Best interest of the child, Parental responsibilities
Authors prof. dr. J. Ribot Igualada
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article examines how Spanish and Catalan laws deal with claims of grandparents who seek contact with their grandchildren against the will of one or both parents, and the scope given to their rights. It starts by explaining the content and the goals of the legal reforms enacted in Spain at the beginning of the 21st century to promote grandparents’ interests. Then, it presents the case law developed in the interpretation of the relevant legal rules. The resulting state of the law is assessed, taking into account the interests of all the parties involved (parents, grandparents, and grandchildren). The experience of more than twenty years of application of the specific provisions concerning grandparents’ contact rights sheds light on the impact of giving grandparents stronger legal rights. However, it also prompts the question of whether this legislative choice might have brought about useless and potentially harmful litigation.


prof. dr. J. Ribot Igualada
Jordi Ribot Igualada is Professor of Civil Law at the Institute of European and Comparative Law and Director of the Institute of European and Comparative Private Law (University of Girona).
Article

Access_open The Child’s Contact with Grandparents

Keywords Family life, Best interest of the child, Contact rights, Grandchildren, Grandparents
Authors prof. M. Holdgaard
AbstractAuthor's information

    Grandparents hand down their experiences, knowledge, traditions and values to their grandchildren. As a high level of grandparental involvement may play an important role in a child’s well-being, legal protection of that family relation may be in the best interest of a given child. There is a continuing interaction between family law, cultural and social norms of what constitutes a family and how family life should be, and actual family practices and structures. Due to changing family patterns combined with an increasing number of divorces and cohabiting couples with children splitting up grandparents now play an increasing role in their grandchildren’s lives. Children become members within other types of family structures, e.g. single parents (raising half-siblings), families with yours and/or mine (and joint) children etc. When a child’s family includes a step-parent with children and step-grandparents – as well as the biological parents and grandparents – a potential risk of conflict among the family members is high. Grandparents, therefore, risk losing contact or having less contact than they had previously. At first glance, there might appear to be little reason for society to regulate the practices of grandparents as providers of non-formalized childcare or to protect the rights of children in these relationships. However, due to the changing family practices and social norms, one could argue that the legal protection of contact between grandparents and grandchildren is an important legal topic in domestic law and in academic discussions in the coming years. This article articulates these issues by framing three articles that together create a thematic map in this journal on Spanish and Catalan law, and Scandinavian law as well as the grandparents’ right to maintain contact with their grandchildren under the European Convention on Human Rights seen in a context of the best interest of the child.


prof. M. Holdgaard
Marianne Holdgaard is Professor in family and inheritance law at the School of Law, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Aalborg
Article

Access_open Grandparents’ and grandchildren's right to contact under the European Convention on Human Rights

Keywords Grandparents, Grandchildren, Family life, Contact, Best interests of the child, Child's views
Authors Prof. K. Sandberg
AbstractAuthor's information

    The article explores the extent of the right to family life under Article 8 ECHR with regard to contact between grandparents and grandchildren. An analysis of decisions from the European Court of Human Rights shows that although such a right may exist, it is not strong and depends heavily on the circumstances of the specific case. The article points to what seems to be an inconsistency in the Courts approach to these cases and questions the position of the children and their views and best interests.


Prof. K. Sandberg
Kirsten Sandberg is Professor of Law at the University of Oslo Faculty of Law.