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In Belgium, Legalized Euthanasia Has Begun to Encroach on Religious Freedom

Aug. 23 2017

Since Belgium legalized doctor-assisted suicide in 2002, over 13,000 people have died at their physicians’ hands; euthanasia is also being used as a “cure” for mental-health problems and other non-terminal illnesses. Now the government has bullied a Catholic organization into adopting the practice. Sohrab Ahmari writes:

Typical of today’s aggressive liberalism, it wasn’t enough to have legalized euthanasia and expanded it to once-unimaginable situations, such as a patient who is dissatisfied with the results of a sex change. No, even euthanasia’s most ardent opponents must love euthanasia.

Proponents set their sights on the Brothers of Charity, [a] Catholic medical order [that] runs psychiatric hospitals worldwide, fifteen of them in Belgium, where it was founded in the early 19th century. . . . [The campaign against it] began with a civil ruling last year against a Catholic nursing home that had refused to permit doctors to euthanize a seventy-four-year-old resident. The woman’s adult children sued, and a court in Louvain ordered the home to pay €6,000 in fines and damages.

Then, [fearing more lawsuits], the board of the Belgian Brothers issued a statement authorizing physicians to euthanize non-terminal, mentally ill patients on the order’s premises. The statement asserted that euthanasia is a routine medical procedure, and that patient autonomy and the protection of life are of equally important value—in direct violation of the Catholic view, which is that the protection of life at all stages is absolute. . . .

Last week, Pope Francis intervened, ordering the Belgian chapter to stop offering euthanasia. The Belgian Brothers have until the end of August to comply.

The response from the political class so far has been to blow a Belgian raspberry at the supreme pontiff. . . . [But if they have their way], it would call into question the ability of any global religious organization to set policy for its various national chapters—a grave setback for international religious freedom. It would also be a tragedy for the 5,000 mentally ill patients the Brothers serve in Belgium.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Belgium, Catholic Church, Euthanasia, Freedom of Religion, Politics & Current Affairs

 

Why Cutting U.S. Funding for Palestinian “Refugees” Is the Right Move

Jan. 22 2018

Last week the Trump administration announced that it is withholding some of America’s annual contribution to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the organization tasked with providing humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees and their descendants. To explain why this decision was correct, Elliott Abrams compares UNRWA with the agency run by the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), which provides humanitarian aid to refugees who are not Palestinian:

One of [UNHCR’s] core missions is “ending statelessness.” [By contrast, UNRWA’s] mission appears to be “never ending statelessness.” A phrase such as “ending statelessness” would be anathema and is found nowhere on its website. Since 1950, UNHCR has tried to place refugees in permanent new situations, while since 1950 UNRWA has with its staff of 30,000 “helped” over 5 million Palestinian “refugees” to remain “refugees.” . . . UNRWA has three times as large a staff as UNHCR—but helps far fewer people than the 17 million refugees UNHCR tries to assist. . . .

The argument for cutting funding to UNRWA is not primarily financial. The United States is an enormously generous donor to UNHCR, providing just under 40 percent of its budget. I hope we maintain that level of funding. . . . The argument for cutting funding to UNRWA instead rests on two pillars. The first is that UNRWA’s activities repeatedly give rise to concern that it has too many connections to Hamas and to rejectionist ideology. . . .

But even if those flaws were corrected, this would not solve the second and more fundamental problem with UNRWA—which is that it will perpetuate the Palestinian “refugee” problem forever rather than helping to solve it. . . . [T]hat the sole group of refugees whom the UN keeps enlarging is Palestinian, and that the only way to remedy this under UN definitions would be to eliminate the state of Israel or have 5 million Palestinian “refugees” move there should simply be unacceptable. . . .

Perpetuating and enlarging the Palestinian “refugee” crisis has harmed Israel and it has certainly harmed Palestinians. Keeping their grievances alive may have served anti-Israel political ends, but it has brought peace no closer and it has helped prevent generations of Palestinians from leading normal lives. That archipelago of displaced-persons and refugee camps that once dotted Europe [in the aftermath of World War II] is long gone now, and the descendants of those who tragically lived in those camps now lead productive and fruitful lives in many countries. One can only wish such a fate for Palestinian refugee camps and for Palestinians. More money for UNRWA won’t solve anything.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinians, Refugees, U.S. Foreign policy, UNRWA