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.

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

 

A Better Syria Strategy Can Help Achieve the U.S. Goal of Countering Iran

While the Trump administration has reversed much of its predecessor’s effort to realign Washington with Tehran, and has effectively used sanctions to exert economic pressure on the Islamic Republic, Omar Hassino argues that these measures might not be enough:

Iran and its militias control more territory and natural resources in Syria and Iraq than before President Trump took office. . . . The U.S. should back the low-cost insurgency approach that has already shown potential in southwest Syria to bleed the Iranian forces and increase the costs of their expansion and [of Tehran’s] support for the Assad regime. It makes no sense that Iran can fund low-cost insurgencies to bleed American allies in the region, but the United States cannot counter with the same. The administration should also consider expanding support to the proxy forces that it currently works with—such as the Revolution Commandos near the [U.S.] al-Tanf garrison in southwest Syria—for the purpose of fighting and eliminating Iranian-backed militias. This limited escalation can curb Iranian expansion and put pressure on the Assad regime in the long term.

Furthermore, in this vein, the U.S. should empower peaceful Syrian civil-society groups and local councils operating outside Assad-regime control. Last year, the Trump administration eliminated assistance for stabilization in Syria, including funding going to secular anti-Assad civil-society groups that were also combating al-Qaeda’s ideology, as well as the Syrian [medical and civil-defense group known as] the White Helmets, before quickly [restoring] some of this funding. Yet the funding has still not completely been resumed, and if this administration takes an approach similar to its predecessor’s in relying on regional powers such as Turkey, these powers will instead fund groups aligned ideologically with Muslim Brotherhood. This is already happening in Idlib.

The United States must [also] jettison the Obama-era [strategy of establishing] “de-escalation zones.” These zones were from the start largely a Russian ruse to help the Assad regime conquer opposition areas, and they succeeded. Now that the regime controls most of Syria and Iranian proxies are dominant within the regime side, support for de-escalation is tantamount to support for Iranian expansion. The United States must [instead] prevent further expansion by the Assad regime and Iran in parts of the country that they still do not control.

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More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy