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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has upheld Italy’s right to ban human embryo donation for scientific research. The ruling comes at the end of a case brought by an Italian citizen, Adelina Parillo, who, having sought pregnancy via in vitro fertilisation in 2002 with her partner, Stefano Rollo, subsequently decided against trying for a child when her partner was killed in Iraq, and opted to donate the five harvested embryos for medical research.
American abortion provider Planned Parenthood has been investigated by officials in the state of Alabama after an inspection uncovered a suspected case of sexual abuse which the group failed to report to authorities. According to Lifesite News, amid ongoing exposés of Planned Parenthood’s trading in human foetal body parts, an online news outlet, Yellow Hammer News, gained access to records of a 2014 inspection of a Planned Parenthood facility by Alabama’s Department of Public Health, and found that the clinic failed to bring to the attention of the authorities – as required by state law - the case of a 14-year-old girl who made a number of visits for terminations.
Nepal’s highest court has ordered an immediate halt to commercial surrogacy services there while it considers the legality of the practice. According to the Supreme Court, which issued an injunction on foot of a petition brought before it for an outright ban, while there is no current legislation controlling surrogacy for monetary gain, the practices “raises many constitutional and legal questions” which had to be fully examined.
People with religious faith tend to cope better with cancer on average, a new study published in the US journal Cancer has found. According to the Daily Telegraph, the research, a meta-analysis of past studies that examined more than 44,000 patients, concluded that cancer sufferers who believed in a benevolent God had better physical health, greater ability to carry on doing everyday tasks and fewer physical symptoms of cancer and its treatment.
A new report on assisted suicide reveals increased use of the procedure across all areas where the practice is allowed. Complied as Britain’s Parliament prepares for a September 11 debate on legislating for assisted suicide, ‘Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: A Guide to the Evidence’, from the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Oxford, England, examined current practices in Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the US states of Oregon and Washington.
A Catholic priest has insisted that the majority of parents in Ireland want the current system of school patronage to remain unchanged. Speaking to The Irish Times newspaper, Fr Brendan Hoban, a founding member of the Association of Catholic Priests criticised an apparent “presumption” within some quarters, not least the press, that there is a great appetite for divestment of Catholic schools to other patronage forms when in fact, the opposite was the case.
A fifth attempt to pass a motion in favour of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland will be made in the new Assembly term, it has been announced. According to the website of the Sinn Féin, which quotes its MLA Caitriona Ruane, the party intends to stick to its previously voiced commitment to see same-sex marriage become a reality in the North in the wake of such moves both in Britain and the Republic of Ireland.
Fewer people than ever in Britain are opting to marry, according to a new survey, prompting concerns for the wellbeing of children. The findings by the Marriage Foundation, reveal that in 2012, just 59% of middle income couples with children opted to formalise their unions, a figure which compares to 84% of the same category in 1994. Middle income couples are identified as those earning between £21,000 and £30,000 annually.
England's former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord George Carey, has said he supports assisted suicide as people are “deciding the matter for themselves” and believes Jesus himself would support the measure. Writing in The Mail on Sunday newspaper ahead of this September's debate in Parliament on the Assisted Dying Bill, Lord Carey acknowledges that “for years, like many in the Church [of England], I was totally against any change in the law, believing that it was a slippery slope with potentially drastic consequences.”
A former biotech worker with links to a US abortion clinic operated by the Planned Parenthood group has alleged that not all foetal tissue harvested was done so with patient consent. In a newly released video, the sixth compiled by the anti-abortion body the Centre for Medical Progress, Holly O'Donnell, described as a former “blood and tissue procurement technician”, details how, during her career with biotech company StemExpress, she was expected to pressure mothers arriving at Planned Parenthood into agreeing to foetal tissue donations, and how some other technicians, who failed to gain said consent, went ahead and harvested body parts anyhow.
The modern world needs the example of faithful marriage between a man and woman more than ever, a leading Irish Bishop has stated. As thousands gathered at the Marian shrine in Knock, Co. Mayo for the annual National Novena to Our Lady, Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin chose the family as the theme of his address to pilgrims. Quoting Pope Francis' own words, Bishop Doran lauded the family unit as “the first school where we learn to appreciate our talents and those of others, and where we begin to acquire the art of living together. For most of us, the family is the principal place in which we begin to 'breathe' values and ideals, as we develop our full capacity for virtue and charity.”
An expert in Catholic education has warned against the Church in Ireland divesting its schools without first securing “cast-iron guarantees” on the issue of ethos for remaining institutions. Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper, Dr Rik Van Nieuwenhove, lecturer in theology at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, said the Church needed to fight the corner of those schools not involved in divestment. “This is about negotiating and bargaining,” he insisted, “and I don’t think the Church should give up any schools without cast iron guarantees that the ethos of the stand-alone Catholic school will be safeguarded and maintained.”
A Christian baker in the US state of Colorado has lost his appeal against a discrimination ruling in a gay wedding cake row. Following the earlier ruling against Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop by Colorado's Civil Rights Commission that he had discriminated against a gay couple in 2012 for refusing to supply a cake for their wedding day, the baker took his case to the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Marriage is good for adults and their children, a new report from Canada has found. The report, 'Sticking With It', compiled by the country's Institute for Marriage and the Family (IMFC) reports that stable, two-parent families score better across a range of topics than all other familial arrangements. Bringing together other studies conducted in Canada in recent years, the IMFC report demonstrates that marriages endure over arrangements such as co-habitation, and points out that “even living together before getting married is correlated with an elevated risk of divorce”.
Switzerland's Federal Court, the highest in the nation, has refused to recognise surrogacy. In a case centred on a same-sex couple, the court was asked to examine the circumstances under which the couple procured a child from a surrogate mother in the US state of California in 2011. Having entered into an agreement with the child's biological mother, the male couple were registered as the child's parents and then, upon returning to Switzerland, had that registration recognised by the canton of St Gallen, where the couple lived in a same-sex union as recognised by Swiss law.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling for more non-physician medical staff and pharmacists to be trained in abortion procedures and for restrictions to be enacted against allowing conscientious objection to abortion. In a newly released paper on 'Health worker roles in providing safe abortion care and post-abortion contraception', the WHO suggests that extending training in terminations, to nurses and midwives, for example, would serve to eliminate a shortfall in trained medical professionals for early-term abortions. The WHO goes on to warn that without implementation of its recommendation in this regard, the world will see a shortage of 12.9 million 'abortion-ready' doctors by 2035.
Only eight Fine Gael TDs who responded to a Sunday Times survey said they are opposed to further liberalising Ireland’s abortion laws. The Sunday Times surveyed the party’s 69 TDs of whom 48 responded. According to the newspaper, “Thirty-one of the respondents said they wanted to widen access to abortion. Eight were opposed to any further liberalisation of abortion laws, seven said they were undecided and two did not want to comment.”
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan says she envisages ‘marriage equality’ being taught to primary school children as part of a new course dealing with ethics and world religions. In an interview with The Sunday Business Post, she said: “I haven’t seen the curriculum yet but I would imagine that it will look at the factual situations of for example, of marriage but also of other religions.”
The Minister for Education has been criticised by fellow Government politicians following her complaint that some families feel compelled to baptise their children so as to secure a school place for them. In an interview with The Irish Independent newspaper, Minister Jan O'Sullivan of the Labour Party responded to earlier comments from Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who, in defending faith schools, said Catholic schools should have the right to prioritise Catholic applicants.
Northern Ireland's Alliance Party is to require all its candidates for the 2016 Assembly elections to openly back same-sex marriage. Setting out its stall for the forthcoming elections, the party said it would make legislating for gay marriage part of its manifesto for the first time, and will require party members to “adhere to it”. Despite the North's rejection of same-sex marriage no less than three times after debates in the Stormont Assembly in recent years, the Alliance Party has noted the success of the same-sex marriage referendum in the Republic in formulating its new stance.
Dublin's Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said local resistance is one of the reasons why the hand-over of some Catholic schools to other patron bodies is so slow. As the issue of Catholic Church patronage of schools comes once again under the media spotlight in the run-up to the new school term, Dr Martin stated: "Communities don't want change, teachers don't want change, and even in some cases local politicians, who belong to parties who are committed to divesting, create obstacles locally.”
Pope Francis has called on American Catholics to defend traditional marriage amid ongoing cultural attacks on the institution. In a letter to the Knights of Columbus as the Catholic body convened for its Supreme Convention in the state of Philadelphia, the Pontiff re-emphasised the importance of the Sacrament of Marriage as “a natural institution, a life-long covenant of love and fidelity between a man and a woman, directed to their perfection and sanctification, and to the future of our human family”.
A Catholic Bishop in England has called on the faithful there to become actively involved in lobbying against assisted suicide. Addressing English pilgrims to the French Marian shrine at Lourdes, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury called on Catholics to lobby their local political representatives ahead of the debate on assisted suicide legislation in Parliament this September. Quoted in The Catholic Herald, Bishop Davies warned: “We may only have a matter of weeks to make our voices heard before Parliament decides whether a culture of care or a culture of suicide and eventually of killing prevails.”
A British Conservative MP has said new anti-extremism powers should be used against Christian teachers who teach that that same-sex marriage is wrong. In an article carried by The Daily Telegraph, Mark Spencer, MP for Sherwood, Nottinghamshire, is quoted, in an email to a constituent, as suggesting that new ‘Extremism Disruption Orders’ (EDOs), formulated to curb jihadi radicalisation in Britain, should also be used against teachers who speak out against same-sex marriage. Hide original message Insisting in his message that he views EDOs as a means of guaranteeing free speech, Mr Spencer continues: “It is those who seek to stop other people expressing their beliefs who will be targeted.
Newly agreed United Nations Sustainable Development Goals will make no mention of abortion or gay rights including gay marriage, despite strong lobbying by some nations. Following protracted negotiations towards the final content of 'Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development' by which the UN will operate its development activities worldwide, UN member states agreed to drop elements that would have seen abortion included as a 'development goal' alongside a requirement on states to gay marriage, regardless of voter sentiment on such issues. Instead, consensus was reached that the issues would be dealt via already standing agreements or via national parliaments.
A court in the US state of Washington has ruled that pharmacists do not have a right of conscience on the issue of dispensing so-called 'emergency contraception' which can also act as an abortifacient. In Ireland, pharmacists are already denied this right. The ruling, by a three-judge panel of the Circuit Court of Appeals, overturned a 2012 judgement which had vindicated pharmacists' religious freedom in the area of conscience specifically in the area of 'emergency contraception', such as the morning-after pill.
Australia's Labour Party has voted to remove any conscience clause for members on the issue of same-sex marriage by 2019. A substantial number of Labour party parliamentarians, especially from New South Wales, are opposed to same-sex marriage. Amid the ongoing debate on redefining the country's marriage laws, representatives of the party, currently in opposition, met during the party's annual conference in Melbourne to discuss supporting same-sex marriage and requiring all its members to row in behind such a move, finally deciding to champion a redefinition of marriage once in government.
A law banning commercial surrogacy in Thailand has come into effect. In the wake of two controversial cases involving Thai surrogate mothers in 2014, the government acted in February to introduce new measures to curb the trade in 'renting' the wombs of surrogate mothers.
A drift towards a more liberal abortion regime in Ireland has reversed, a new study has revealed. According to a Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A) poll for The Sunday Times newspaper, figures supporting a more liberal abortion regime in this country have slipped since the same research was conducted in 2013. Where the B&A found, in January 2013, in the wake of the tragic death of expectant mother Savita Halappanavar, that 80% of respondents to its poll were in favour of a termination in the case of a fatal foetal abnormality, the latest poll reveals a full 10-point drop to 70%. A similar drop is evident among those supporting abortion in the cases of rape and incest, down 7 points, also to 70%.
The number of under-age girls in Britain receiving contraceptive implants and injections has nearly tripled over the last 10 years. According to the latest figures from the country's National Health Service (NHS), 8,400 girls aged 15 years and younger received such contraceptive treatments, a leap from 3,100 for the year 2004-2005.
The largest provider of abortion facilities in the United States is facing a federal investigation and calls for its defunding following the release of two undercover videos allegedly showing members of the group negotiating the sale of foetal body parts. Two members of Planned Parenthood were captured on film by pro-life advocates posing as representatives of a medical research company.
A man suffering locked-in syndrome in Britain has failed in a legal bid to have medical guidelines changed to allow him to avail of assisted suicide. The patient, identified only as Martin, had brought a case before the High Court in an attempt to force a change to current General Medical Council (GMC) guidelines on patient care. Counsel for Martin argued that the guidelines unfairly restricted him, on the basis that they interfered with his right to a private and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Italy has been criticised by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for its 'failure' to recognise in law the status of same-sex couples. In a ruling arising from a case taken by three same-sex couples who argued that Italy was engaging in discrimination against them for its stance, a seven-judge panel of the ECHR ruled that Italy should move towards greater rights for gay couples to bring it into line with the rest of the EU. Italy remains the only nation in Europe not to recognise civil partnerships.
The Irish Government is to allow adopted people to access their birth certificates for the first time under legislation currently being drafted. According to a report in The Irish Times, the passage of the proposed Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill could affect as many as 50,000 people who have till now been denied access to the documentation recording their birth parents' details due to legal wrangles. The Bill seeks to create an 'adoption information register' to be maintained by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
Freedom of religion is "the key human right", Britain's House of Lords has heard. During a debate on the question of Britain affording extra emphasis to the issue of religious freedom, peers heard of numerous violations of religious freedom internationally, contravening Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which bestows the right to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” both in public and private.
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