Dr. Andre E. Hellegers, 52, physician, author and pioneer in the field of medical ethics, died Monday of a coronary attack in Uithoorn, The Netherlands. He was abroad on business.
Dr. Hellegers was the founder and director of the Joseph and Rose Kenedy Institute of Ethics at George Town University. Serving in that post from its inception in 1971, Dr. Hellegers, combining his knowledge of pratical medicine with his skills as a writer, became internationally known as both an ethicist who spoke out on bioethical problems and as a scholar who probed the basic questions about the moral implications of public health policy.
Dr. Hellegers began his medical career in the United States in 1953 when he served in the Department of Obsterics and Gynecology at Johns Hopkins University. He was born at Venlo, The netherlands, and educated first at Stonyhurst College in England. He graduated in 1951 from Edinburgh University Medical School. At Johns Hopkins, he became an authority in fetal physiology research and the promotion of improved maternal-child care.
Dr. Hellegers came to Georgetown University in 1967 as a professor of obstetrics and gynecology. His writings in such diverse publications as the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Physiology and The Jurist led to his being appointed to the presidential commission on Population and Birth Control from 1968 to 1973.
In addition, he was a member of such groups as the National Advisory Council on Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health and the Population Reference Bureau.
He received a number of awards, including an honorary degree in 1975 from Wheeling College, Wheeling W.Va. Among his colleagues, the prize that Dr. Hellegers most cherished was the gratitude of those who were stimulated by his insights to pursue new thoughts of their own. Known as an innovative thinker himself, he did not believe that creative thought should be limited to the so-called experts.
In the eight years of his work at the Kennedy, Institute, Dr. Hellegers moved medical ethics from a subject that even few doctors bothered with to a concern that was publicly debated before congressional committees.
As a man of scholarship, he had a measure of impatience with those who pushed the easy answers. In 1969, discussing a statement signed by a group of scientists critical of Pope Paul's views on birth control as found in the encyclical "Humanae Vitae," Dr. Helleger spoke candidly:
"One can have sympathy for the frustration of the scientists, but surely the solution to problems of population is too important and too complicated to warrant signing simplistic statements. It would be more constructive for the scientists to advocate couses in population dynamics at every university, so we may in the future he spared the kind of purerile analysis which this protest statement bespeaks."
A major project of Dr. Hellegers in recent years was the Kennedy Institue's completion last December of Encyclopedia of Bioethics, the first work of its kind ever published. In four volumes, the encyclopedia was a drawing together of every significant piece of research or opinion in the field.
Sargent Shriver, who relied on Dr. Helleger's thought in his 1972 vice-presidential campaign, spoke of this work yesterday and said that "Andre Hellegers was an educational innovator of depth and foresight."
"Survivors include his wife, Charlotte Frazier Lindsay Sanders, of the home in Potomac, and four children, Paul, a student at Oxford University, England, and Caroline, Desiree and Renee, all of the home.
The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Andre Hellegers Memorial Fund at Georgetown Universtiy. CAPTION: Picture, DR. ANDRE E. HELLEGERS, AP