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A Dutch euthanasia clinic is being investigated for ending a woman's life because she did not want to live in a nursing home, with the euthanasia monitoring committee saying that the clinic did not observe the formal guidelines. Prosecutors in the Netherlands are currently deciding whether to proceed with a case against the Levenseindekliniek (End of Life Clinic). There have as yet been no prosecutions for violating the guidelines on euthanasia since it was legalised in 2002.
Ultra-militants from the group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) have launched “a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing” in Northern Iraq, according to a new report from Amnesty International. The report, collating evidence gathered over the last few months as IS expanded its influence in the region, says that the militants have been carrying out war crimes including mass killings and abductions against religious minorities including Christians and Yezidis.
A British surrogate mother of twins is raising one of them after the comissioning mother rejected her for being disabled. The mother, also British, took the healthy boy but refused to accept his twin sister because of her severe muscular condition Congenital Myotonic Dystrophy, the Sun reported. The surrogate mother, referred to as “Jenny” alleges that the comissioning mother referred to the baby as a “dribbling cabbage.”
A senior academic and member of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has criticised a National Union of Journalists statement on balance in coverage of current affairs. Colum Kenny, Professor of Communications at DCU, said that the NUJ's criticism of the BAI over their decision to uphold a complaint over an unbalanced discussion of same-sex marriage on RTE Radio 1's 'Mooney' show was “misleading.” “The union went wild on Mooney” he said.
All UK schools should give children sex education lessons from the age of seven, the Liberal Democrats have said. David Laws, an MP for the junior coalition party and Minister of State for schools, said that both primary and secondary schools should be required to provide sex and relationship education.
Christians and other religious minorities continue to suffer in Northern Iraq, as the United Nations reports that over 1.2 million people have become internally displaced since the start of 2014, many of them by Islamic State (IS) militants. All non-Sunnis within IS's sphere of influence have faced persecution, with Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims often being offered a choice between conversion, exile and death.
Pro-life groups are holding events this weekend in support of the mother and child at the centre of the latest abortion controversy, and in protest at the government's abortion legislation. The Pro Life Campaign has organised a vigil to take place outside Dáil Éireann this evening, Friday 22nd August from 7.30 – 8.15pm, while Youth Defence will hold a rally tomorrow (Saturday) at 4pm meeting at the Spire on O’Connell Street, Dublin.
Five hundred sperm donors in the UK have been confirmed to have fathered over 6,200 children between them – an average of 12.4 children per man. Fifteen of these men are now the fathers to 20 or more children each. The Daily Telegraph reports that records released by the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which cover donor insemination figures from clinics across Britain, have identified the “top 500” donors.
World famous atheist Richard Dawkins has said on Twitter that it would be “immoral” for a woman to carry a child with Down’s Syndrome to term, and advised a friend wondering what she would do in that situation to “abort it and try again.” Dawkins has been roundly condemned by groups who campaign for the rights of the disabled.
An edition of RTE’s Derek Mooney show breached the broadcasting regulations by airing an item in January of this year that favoured same-sex marriage, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has found.
A two-day international conference on adoption law is to be held in UCC next month. Entitled ‘Redefining adoption in a new era: Opportunities and challenges for law and practice’, the conference will hear from a number of international experts. Philomena Lee, whose story of the search for her son (who was adopted by a family in the US) inspired the recent movie ‘Philomena’, will contribute to the conference on 4-5 September 2014.
The number of children calling Childline in Scotland worrying about their parents' divorce or separation increased dramatically last year. The Christian Institute reports that NSPCC Scotland received over 600 calls about the issues to their ChildLine service in 2012-2013, a rise of 171%.
Divorcing couples could be forced to engage in mandatory counselling before seeking the intervention of the courts, under plans from Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald. According to the Irish Independent, the proposed move comes as part of a radical overhaul of Ireland's family law system, through a series of reforms orginally proposed by former Minister Alan Shatter but now being overseen by Fitzgerald.
Pope Francis is dispatching Cardinal Fernando Filoni as his personal envoy to northern Iraq today, the Vatican press office has said. Islamist militias have sent thousands of Christians and other religious minorities fleeing for their lives in the region. The Boston Globe's John L Allen Jr writes that “Filoni is the pope’s top Iraq expert, having served as the papal nuncio, or ambassador, to Baghdad from 2001 to 2006. That put Filoni in the thick of things during the 2003 US-led invasion, when he was the lone Western diplomat who didn’t abandon his post as the bombs fell.”
The UK is to set up a publicly-funded sperm bank in response to increasing demand and a shortage of donors. For around £300 – considerably cheaper than the cost of the service at a private clinic – women who make use of the sperm bank will be able to search an online database and choose an anonymous donor on the basis of his ethnicity, height, profession and even hobbies.
Christians and other religious minorities in Northern Iraq are facing “genocide” at the hands of Islamic State fighters, one of Iraq's leading Catholic Bishops has warned. “They are facing a human catastrophe and risk a real genocide. They need water, food, shelter,” Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Babylon said in an open letter.
The Australian parliament is set to hold a vote on same-sex marriage, in which all MPs will be free to vote with their consciences. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Liberal party, the senior partner in the ruling Liberal-National Coalition under Prime Minister Tony Abbot, is likely to suspend its binding position against gay marriage and allow MPs to vote freely, paving the way for parliament to take up the issue in its spring session. One Liberal MP said that it was “almost certain” that the whip will be lifted.
Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who faced the death penalty in Sudan for alleged ‘apostasy’ from Islam, has arrived safely in the United States after a prolonged struggle with Sudanese authorities. Ibrahim’s husband, Daniel Wani, is a US citizen and has relatives in New Hampshire where the family hope to settle.
Church of England Bishops have called on the British government to offer asylum to Christians fleeing Islamist extremists in northern Iraq, saying that from the UK has a "moral duty" to take them in, because of its role in the 2003 invasion which was followed by years of instability in the country leading up to the current Islamist insurgency. The bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev David Walker, told the Observer: "We would be failing to fulfil our obligations were we not to offer sanctuary. Having intervened so recently and extensively in Iraq, we have, even more than other countries, a moral duty in the UK.
A Thai surrogate mother raising a Down syndrome baby who was abandoned by his Australian genetic parents said Tuesday she would be happy to have the baby's twin returned. The Thai woman, Pattaramon Chanbua, carried the twins for the commissioning Australian couple who have denied they knew about the Down syndrome baby and are currently raising his twin sister. Ms Pattaramon was paid £6,400 to carry a child for the couple. She is especially concerned for the baby girl’s welfare because of reports that the father is a convicted sex offender.
The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, has called on Christians to pray for the Christians of Mosul and northern Iraq who are being attacked and driven from their homes by radical Islamists.
More terminally ill patients should be able to die naturally and with dignity in hospices and their own home, Lord Michael Howard, the former leader of the Conservative Party in Britain, has said. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Lord Howard, chair of the charity Help for Hospices, warned that hospitals were increasingly becoming the “default option” for elderly people rather than the “last resort.” He will today announce a new drive to reduce the number of terminally ill people who die in hospitals by a fifth.
Babies born through mitochondrial DNA transfer, a process which uses donor DNA to fix genetic flaws in an embryo and effectively gives a child three genetic parents, will not be allowed to find out the identity of their “second mother” under UK government guidelines. According to the Daily Telegraph, under the new guidelines children would never know the idenity of the DNA donor and would only able to find out “non-identifiable” information at the age of 16.
More than half of Muslims in Ireland experience some form of hostility, from being spat at in public spaces to women having their hijab forcibly removed by strangers. According to The Sunday Times, one third of the 345 Muslim men and women in 14 Irish towns and cities surveyed by the University of Limerick said they had been targeted for abuse or discrimination specifically because they appeared to be Muslim.
President Obama will today sign two executive orders to prevent federal contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. There will be no exemption from the new regulations for religious organisations, despite calls from religious organisations and prominent faith leaders for one to be granted. According to The Atlantic, the new executive order essentially imposes on contractors the provisions of the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which passed the Senate but hasn't been taken up by the House. That piece of legislation, however, did have a religious exemption.
The European Court of Human Rights has found that there is no right to same-sex marriage under the European Convention on Human Rights. In deciding on a case where a Finnish transgendered person wished to remain legally married to their wife after a change of their legal identity from male to female, the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR found that, although the case was not directly about same-sex marriage, it would effectively introduce it in Finland, and that the Finnish governement was within its rights to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
A recent graduate from nursing school is suing a medical facility in Florida, alleging that they refused to employ her specifically because of her pro-life views. According to LifeSiteNews, Sara Hellwege applied for a job as a Certified Nurse Midwife at Tampa Family Health Centers (TFHC) in April, but was refused the position after it emerged that she was a member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
A bill that would have placed substantial restrictions on business owners's religious freedom has been defeated in a party-line vote in the US Senate. The Protect Women's Health From Corporate Interferecne Act sought to overturn the Supreme Court's recent decision in Hobby Lobby VS Burwell, where the court found that employers are not obliged to pay for health insurance for their employees that covers abortifacients. The bill's defeat follows strong criticism from religious leaders, including the US Catholic Bishops.
Ireland’s abortion laws and its policies on faith schools have been among the issues raised by the U.N. Human Rights Committee in a hearing scrutinising Ireland’s human rights record. In response, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that “significant recent developments” had been made “in relation to access to lawful termination of pregnancy in Ireland”.
A Dutch academic who supported euthanasia legalisation in the Netherlands has urged the British parliament not to introduce assisted suicide, ahead of a debate on Lord Falconer's 'assisted dying' bill in the House of Lords next week. That Bill would allow terminally ill patients to obtain lethal drugs to kill themselves. According to the Christian Institute, Theo Boer, who has been part of a committee monitoring euthanasia cases since 2005, said that “Euthanasia is on the way to become a ‘default’ mode of dying for cancer patients.”
The director of a major Catholic hospital in Warsaw has been fired after he refused to help a woman obtain an abortion for her unborn child, who suffered from severe brain malformations. According to LifeSiteNews, Dr Bogden Chazan, director of the Holy Family Hospital, was fined 70,000 zlotys (about €17,000) and removed from his position by the Mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, after an inquiry commissioned by the mayor's office alleged that he not only refused to perform the abortion, but refused to refer the mother to another doctor who would. The inquiry also him accused of having deliberately prolonged a diagnostic procedure in order to prevent the abortion. In order to be legal, the abortion would have had to be carried out before the child was at 25 weeks gestation.
Catholic school governors in the UK have criticised the National Governors’ Association (NGA) for advocating the abolition of compulsory Christian assemblies in schools. But the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, who is the Church of England’s head of education, said that changing the law could be “liberating” for schools and churches, and called for assemblies to be replaced with a time of “spiritual reflection” According to The Tablet, The NGA decided to call for the abolition of laws that say daily worship is compulsory in schools at the most recent meeting of its policy committee, claiming that few schools met the requirement and that it was “meaningless” in communities where the majority were not Christian.
The annual Rally for Life, which took place in Belfast this year, saw what organisers claimed was its largest ever turnout in the city. Organisers estimated that 8,000 people attended the march. The rally heard from parents whose children had life-limiting disorders who said that better support for families, not abortion, is the answer when children are diagnosed with severe disabilities in the womb.
A Catholic priest in the diocese of Baton Rouge faces a court order to break the seal of confession, after a decision by the Louisiana State Supreme Court. According to the The Times-Picayune of Greater New Orleans, the case stems from a claim a minor's parents that their daughter confessed to the Rev. Jeff Bayhi during the sacrament of reconciliation that she engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with a grown man who also attended their church. Court documents indicate the child was 12 years old at the time of the alleged sexual abuse.
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