The National Evaluation Committee for abortion lists the names of four experts in the field who have said they had no idea they had been nominated to the body. The names of the members of the new composition of the commission were published in the government’s official journal this week. The list included at least four names of people who did not realise they were members.
“Of course I won’t be going to the meeting next month,” said gynaecologist Hendrik Cammu of the VUB. “I can’t remember ever presenting myself as a candidate, let alone being informed of my official nomination.”
The other three experts concerned did present as candidates, but in the years since then have received no information or notification that they had been accepted.
The first meeting of the commission is due to take place on 19 December, and the commission plans to present a report on the situation in the country to Parliament in February. One of the other experts, lawyer Myriam Van Varenbergh, said “would see if the meeting still fit in her agenda, if she even received an invitation.”
The commission has been unable to produce global figures on abortion in Belgium for five years, because of a shortage of experts willing to take on the job. The last numbers date from 2012, and show that in 2011, 19,578 abortions were carried out in Belgium.
The four unsuspecting members of the commission make up one-quarter of its legal composition of 16 experts, nine of whom must be women, with eight required to be physicians, of whom four must be affiliated with a university hospital.
When questioned on the matter of the phantom experts, the office of health minister Maggie De Block pointed journalists to the office of parliament speaker Siegfried Bracke. “Unfortunately, the official in charge of this question is on holiday at the moment,” was the response.