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.