News Roundup

Canadian doctor warns on assisted suicide numbers as Dáil set for Thursday debate

In a surprise announcement yesterday, the Dáil is set to take up the assisted suicide bill this coming Thursday. If passed, it would proceed to the committee stage to be hashed out in detail.

The bill is proposed by socialist TD, Gino Kenny, and other members of People Before Profit. It is also supported by the Labour party while Sinn Fein have promised to vote for its progress to the next stage of the legislative process.

Yesterday, Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party said the Government have not discussed it, but added he thought there is a real possibility of a conscience vote when it comes up for debate next week.

Meanwhile, a Canadian doctor has written to the Irish Times to say that assisted suicide legislation has resulted in far more deaths than was initially expected.

Dr Martin Owen wrote that the impact of that law has been nothing short of immense. “In the first full year of the new law, 1,015 lives were ended by euthanasia. This number has since risen to 4,467 in 2018 and 5,631 in 2019.”

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UK Government retains requirement for medical diagnosis before legal gender-change

The UK government has abandoned plans to let people officially change gender without medical checks.

In its response to a consultation on the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, the government concluded that “the balance struck in this legislation is correct”.

“There are proper checks and balances in the system and also support for people who want to change their legal sex,” women and equalities minister Liz Truss said in a written statement to parliament on Tuesday.

The announcement means people wishing to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate – and thereby have the law recognise them as having all the rights and responsibilities appropriate to a person of their acquired gender – will still have to have been officially diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

In her statement, Ms Truss did admit it was “clear that we need to improve the process and experience that transgender people have when applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate – making it kinder and more straightforward”.

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‘This is genocide’: China’s Uighurs ‘being wiped out with forced abortions’

Chinese officials have admitted that birth rates have plummeted among its ethnic Uighurs, fuelling claims that Beijing is subjecting its Muslim minority to a campaign of forced abortion and sterilisation.

Official statistics show that in Xinjiang, the northwestern province where most of the country’s 10 million Uighurs live, birth rates dropped by almost a third in 2018. The statistics follow accusations that Beijing is trying to reduce the Uighur population by threatening women with fines or spells in mass-detention camps if they flout harsh so-called “family-planning” measures.

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Varadkar favours special committee on assisted suicide

Leo Varadkar and a number of other Fine Gael TDs want a special Oireachtas Committee established to discuss assisted suicide, similar to the one that was set up around the Eighth Amendment.

At the parliamentary party meeting yesterday, numerous members asked for a free vote so they could support Socialist TD Gino Kenny’s euthanasia Bill which has no times limits and defines terminal illness very broadly.

But it is understood that both Heather Humphreys and Josepha Madigan spoke out against a free vote as, they claimed, the pressure TDs would come under would be intense.

A spokesperson for Ms Madigan later said she spoke at length on the issue and said it would be best to have a Citizens’ Assembly on the issue first followed by a free vote.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee put forward a number of options, including holding a Citizens’ Assembling on the issue.

Mr Varakdar said the second stage of the Bill could be deferred for a number of months to allow a special committee to hear from experts and those with personal experiences.

A number of members, including John McGahon and Barry Ward said they would be against putting the issue to a Citizen’s Assembly as this would be simply kicking the can down the road.

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Abduction of girls from minority communities continues in Pakistan: Report

Women from religious minority communities in Pakistan continue to be abducted and underage girls continue to be victims of religious violence and persecution, according to a new report.

The latest example is the daughter of Gurdwara Panja Sahib’s head granthi in Hassan Abdal city. Protests from the Sikh community in the national capital broke out on Monday outside the Pakistan High Commission in wake of the abduction of the Sikh girl.

The daughter of the head granthi (an official reader of Sikh scripture) went missing more than two weeks ago and she is reportedly being converted to Islam against her wish.

In a recent report, US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) noted that in Hindu, Christian, and Sikh communities, young women, often underage, continue to be kidnapped for forced conversion to Islam and that 1,000 women are forcibly converted to Islam each year.

The report further stated that local police are often accused of complicity in these cases by failing to investigate them properly. In the Sikh community itself, more than 55 such instances of abductions and forced conversions are said to have taken place in the past few months.

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New Zealand’s euthanasia bill “alarming”

Legislation for euthanasia in New Zealand has been called deeply alarming.

International human rights firm, ADF International delivered a statement to the United Nations on the dangers for the elderly when euthanasia is legalized.

Giorgio Mazzoli said a fair and just society cares for its most vulnerable. “The potential impact that the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide via the End of Life Choice Act of 2019 would have on older persons in New Zealand is deeply alarming. While the eligibility requirements are supposedly strict, the experience of other countries, where the practice is permitted, shows that once the door is open to intentional killing, there is no logical stopping point”.

He added: “If human dignity becomes linked to a person’s state of health or self-determination, it loses its inherent and objective character. Legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide will further increase social pressure on the elderly, who may be led to believe that their lives are ‘completed’ and ‘no longer worth living’”.

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Survey reveals pandemic turmoil is not destroying American families

47% of Americans agreed that the pandemic deepened their commitment to their spouse or partner while only 9% disagreed.

That’s according to the 6th annual American Family Survey at Brigham Young University.

The survey of 3,000 American adults also reveals only 13% of those surveyed say the pandemic made them question the strength of their relationship.

Boyd Matheson, Deseret News Opinion Editor said American families have revealed that despite the turmoil of this year, they are resilient. “The pandemic is not destroying American families. In fact, it’s making them stronger. More than half (56%) of those surveyed have said the pandemic has made spouses appreciate their partner more. Only 1 in 10 disagreed.”

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Archbishop Eamon Martin urges new Bishop to speak up strongly on life issues

The new Bishop of Kilmore has been urged to take a strong stance on life issues like abortion and euthanasia.

The Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, gave the homily at the Episcopal Ordination Mass of Father Martin Hayes.

Addressing the new Bishop he said it would be his duty “to correct error and proclaim the truth of the Gospel – whether it is welcome or unwelcome – to proclaim fearlessly, as Saint Paul did to the Philippians”.

He encouraged him to “not be afraid to speak up strongly for the dignity of the human person and for the protection of all human life, especially against public policies that fundamentally contradict the moral law – like abortion and euthanasia”.

He also urged him to to support marriage and the family and promote respectful care for the Earth.

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Cardinal Zen: Church is losing ‘credibility’ to evangelise China

The former Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, has said that the Catholic Church’s efforts to negotiate an extension to the 2018 provisional agreement with China are harming the evangelisation of that country.

In an interview with CNA, Cardinal Zen said that the Church’s silence on Communist human rights abuses, including the detention of more than 1 million Muslim Uyghurs in a network of concentration camps in Xinjiang Province, was damaging the ability of the Church to play a role in shaping the future of the country.

“The resounding silence will damage the work of evangelisation,” the cardinal said. “Tomorrow when people will gather to plan the new China, the Catholic Church may not be welcome.”

While Cardinals Zen, Charles Muang Bo of Burma and Ignatius Suharyo of Indonesia have repeatedly denounced China’s human rights violations, the Vatican, including Pope Francis, have remained silent on what human rights groups have called a “genocide” and campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against the Uyghurs as diplomatic talks continue on the future of the Vatican-China agreement.

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Research indicates religiosity is associated with lower levels of marital cheating

The personal importance of religion was related to lower levels of cheating, according to new research out of the US.

National data collected in late 2019 by the survey research group YouGov—the iFidelity Survey— examined 1,282 ever-married individuals using both demographic, attitudinal, and relational predictors of extramarital affairs.

As with nearly all studies of extramarital affairs, the iFidelity data suggest that men are more likely to report ever having engaged in an extramarital affair. In the survey, 20% of ever-married men and 10% of ever-married women reported cheating on their spouse in the past.

The study also found that the personal importance of religion was related to lower levels of cheating, whereas religious worship service attendance was not.

Having a strict definition of infidelity, feeling that religion is very important in one’s own life, and perceiving one’s relationship as stable were all less associated with reporting an extramarital affair.

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