News Roundup

Transgender theorists attack transracial theorist

Transgender academics have reacted angrily to a claim that the rationale for accepting transgenderism should also apply to those who make transracial claims. The article “In Defense of Transracialism” by Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy, was published in the peer-reviewed, feminist philosophy journal Hypatia. However, a furious reaction by academics on social media ensued with one professor accusing Tuvel of “discursive transmisogynistic violence.” In response the Associate editors of the journal denounced the article and questioned how it slipped through their peer-review process saying that it did great harm to “trans people and people of color”, and also exposed the author “to heated critique that was both predictable and justifiable.” The response from the wider philosophy community, however, has been one of outrage at the mistreatment of Professor Tuvel. Professor Brian Leiter of the popular blog “The Leiter Reports” likened it to the committing of a “thought crime” while the New York magazine has compared it to a modern day witch hunt.


Babies from skin cells unsettles even the Experts

Researchers have developed a method of harvesting skin cells and transforming them into egg and sperm cells that could them form embryos, but, the New York Times reports, many scientists are unsettled by the prospect. The process, known as in vitro gametogenesis, or I.V.G. for short, could, for instance, enable two men provide all the genetic material for a new embryo. The procedure has already been successfully used on mice, but not yet on humans. However, not all are enamoured of the prospect. “Basic research is paramount, but it’s not clear that we need new methods for creating viable embryos,” said David Lemberg, a bioethicist at National University in California. “Attempting to apply what we’ve learned to create a human zygote is dangerous, because we have no idea what we’re doing, we have no idea what the outcomes are going to be.”


No research justifies the use of human embryos, Pope Francis says

Pope Francis said that there is no justification for the use or destruction of embryos for scientific purposes – not even to help those suffering from incurable diseases. “Some branches of research, in fact, utilize human embryos, inevitably causing their destruction. But we know that no ends, even noble in themselves, such as a predicted utility for science, for other human beings or for society, can justify the destruction of human embryos,” he said May 18. Pope Francis spoke during a meeting at the Vatican with people affected by a rare and incurable genetic brain disorder called Huntington’s disease, along with their families and caretakers which was extensively covered in the Irish Times as numerous people from Ireland attended.

New UK Poll shows surprising degree of respect for unborn life

New polling in the UK shows a number of surprisingly pro-life stances by a majority of people there. The results are highlighted on a new website that helps people know where candidates in their own constituency stand on important life issues such as abortion, assisted suicide and embryo research. Spokesperson Madeline Page said: “This polling suggests that many candidates standing for election are out of touch with where the general public, particularly women, stand on abortion. We have launched our website to ensure that anyone can find out exactly where their local candidates stand on the issues of abortion, assisted suicide and embryo research.”

Cohabitees far more likely to split than married couples says Norwegian study

A new study in the European Sociological Review shows that even in wealthy, egalitarian Norway, cohabitees were three times as likely to split as those who married without first cohabiting. The study examines the period 1970 to 2007. It looks at the likelihood of couples with children and without children splitting up, and at the likelihood of married and cohabiting couples splitting up. It finds that couples with children are less likely to split up than couples without children.

UK Bishops emphasise importance of life issues with voters

In the run up to the UK’s General Election, a number of bishops have urged voters to consider abortion, euthanasia and other life issues as they head to the polls. Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth listed ten questions that Catholic voters should ask of a candidate. “First, and foremost, how far will this or that candidate protect the sacred dignity of each human life from conception to natural death, opposing moves to liberalise the abortion laws, to extend embryo experimentation and to legalise assisted suicide and euthanasia?” In Scotland, the Bishops conference released a letter that said “Any laws which permit the wilful ending of life must always be rejected as reprehensible and unjust,” and they urged Catholic voters, to “remind our politicians that abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia are always morally unacceptable.”


Prince Charles hosts leader of persecuted Iraqi Christians

The Prince of Wales met with a visiting Iraqi Archbishop in the Royal residence, Clarence House, in London this week. The Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, northern Iraq is working with other Bishops to enable a rebuilding and repopulation of Christian towns and villages in the Nineveh plains. The inhabitants of those towns had fled the advancing hordes of ISIS terrorists in August 2014 but are now beginning to return. The Archbishop is being helped by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need who facilitated the meeting with Prince Charles.


Study claiming Abortion pills are safe debunked as unscientific

A study that claimed women can “safely” abort their pre-born children using abortion pills is being debunked by critics as unscientific, problematic, and lacking any real credibility. The study tracked the outcomes of 1600 women in Ireland who had obtained the pills from the Netherlands-based pro-abortion organisation Women on Web. “The main problem with this study is that of the 1600 women who self-induced medical abortions without medical supervision, —  600 (over 30 percent) did not respond to a follow-up survey,” said Michael J. New, Visiting Associate Professor of Economics at Ave Maria University and an Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. “There is a good chance that women who did not follow up were more likely to experience medical complications than those women who were happy to participate,” he added. Professor New called the study “not particularly rigorous.” The study used a non-random sample and was based on self-reporting by participants.


Christian printer sued for turning down gay pride request wins US case

A printer who declined to make shirts for a US gay pride event because it would have violated his conscience has won his court case. Blaine Adamson was sued after turning down the order because it promoted a message that conflicted with “sincerely held religious beliefs”. On Friday, an appeals court in Kentucky found in favour of the Christian designer with one judge saying there was no evidence Adamson had turned down any work because of a customer’s sexual orientation.


Coppinger Bill would ‘destroy denominational education’

A Bill tabled by left-wing TD, Ruth Coppinger, would “destroy denominational education” by stripping faith schools of their right to teach religion in their own way, to have a religious ethos and to admit children of their own faith communities first, the Iona Institute has said in a statement yesterdayMeanwhile, Education Minister, Richard Bruton has rejected the Bill saying that it would be discriminatory against children from minority religions. As written, he said, the legislation would “put a red line through schools” such as Educate Together or Gaelscoileanna. The Bill would amend the Education Act to delete the reference to the “characteristic spirit” of a school and replace it with “constitutional and human rights of all persons concerned”. Addressing the author of the bill, Deputy Ruth Coppinger, the Minister said, “You say your Bill will protect minority religions. I say the opposite. If you want your child raised in the ethos of your religion you can’t do that under this Bill.”

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